This is the December Update designed to keep you abreast of developments and activities concerning the implementation of the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, or HFQLG.

FY 2001 HFQLG PROGRAM OF WORK
For DFPZ and Group Selection

The three Forests implementing the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Pilot Project accomplished 36 projects in fiscal year (FY) 2001.

Between Oct. 1, 2000 and Sept. 30, 2001, approximately 38,000 acres of Defensible Fuel Profile Zones (DFPZs), also known as fuelbreaks, and 1900 acres of small group selection were accomplished. The Pilot Project defines accomplished as advertised timber sales, awarded service contracts, or on-the-ground work completed by Forest Service employees. See Table 1 for a summary.

Twelve of the twenty-two service contracts and eleven timber sale contracts awarded in FY01 will produce approximately 46 million board feet of sawlogs plus another 73 million board feet-equivalent of biomass or wood chips.

Approximately $29 million dollars were spent by the Pilot Project in FY01, with nearly $9 million spent on service contracts.

Table 1. FY2001 Accomplishments by Project Type
Project Type Number of Projects DFPZ Acres Group Selection Acres
Service Contracts Awarded to date

22

26,000

0

Timber Sale Advertisements 11
11,000
1,900
Forest Service Crew Accomplishment 3
1,000
0

Estimated Total Fiscal Year 2001 Accomplishment

33
38,000

1,900

Many of the 36 FY01 projects originated from the sixteen EAs with corresponding Decision Notices released in FY01. Some of the outyear projects (FY02-04) will also be initiated from these decisions. One of the sixteen Decision Notices was withdrawn because of a July 2001 wildfire in the project area.

Twenty-five appeals were received by the Regional Forester. Nineteen of those appealed decisions have been affirmed. Four are not due yet, one appeal had a combination of reverse/affirm, one appeal was withdrawn, and one appeal was dismissed as untimely.

The Regional Forester's appeals decisions can be found at the following website: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/appeals/.

FY 2001 HFQLG PROGRAM OF WORK
For Riparian Restoration

The ranger districts completed 19 riparian restoration projects. The work includes meadow restoration, stream rehabilitation, wetland development, headcut stabilization, and a variety of road improvements, relocations, and decommissioning. Approximately 930 acres of riparian work is either completed or under contract. For future projects the districts are designating areas for environmental analysis under NEPA, and studying areas within watersheds to assess current and desired conditions. The FY02 Riparian Restoration program will be coming out soon.


FY 2002 HFQLG PROGRAM OF WORK
For DFPZ and Group Selection

Projects planned for FY02 are expected to total 47,000 acres of DFPZs and 6,000 acres of small group selection. These projects will be implemented from previous environmental documents as well as new documents.

The districts are planning on releasing eleven new environmental documents and subsequent decisions. Table 2. lists the estimated timeframes proposed for these documents:

Table 2. Estimated timeframe of FY02 NEPA documents
Name Estimated Date of Scoping Estimated Date of Decision Posted Estimated Date of End of Appeal Period Estimate date of Final Appeal Decision
Lassen National Forest
Mineral 11/00 1/11/02 2/25/02

4/11/02

Treatment Unit 1 - Administrative Study 1/02 6/02 7/02 8/02
Champs/Gooch North

4/23/01

9/24/02 11/08/02

12/23/02

Champs/Gooch South

4/23/01

9/24/02 11/08/02

12/23/02

Big Jacks 1/02 7/10/02 8/26/02
10/10/02
Plumas National Forest

Humbug DFPZ

11/01/01 5/02 6/02
7/02
Bald Onion DFPZ 11/02/01 5/30/02 7/16/02

9/01/02

South Fork DFPZ 11/13/01 5/18/02 6/02/02
8/16/02
Jura DFPZ 11/01 4/02 6/02
7/02
Treatment Unit 4 - Administrative Study 1/02 9/02 10/02

12/02

Tahoe National Forest
Borda 2/14/02 5/30/02 7/15/02
8/29/02

Coordinating HFQLG activities with Framework direction

On December 5, 2001, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey requested that the Forest Service deliver the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (Framework) appeal record in order for him to decide whether the Chief's decision warrants discretionary review. If Mr. Rey chooses to conduct a discretionary review, he will have 30 calendar days to complete it.


In his statement, Mr. Rey explained that an examination of the Framework record, prior to a discretionary review decision, is the next prudent step in this appeal process because of the complex nature of this public land use policy and the great deal of hard work already committed to this effort by so many diverse interests. He went on to say that this request to review the record should not be taken as an indication that he has reached a decision one way or the other on the merits.


The Chief's November 16, 2001 decision on the Framework is located at the following website: http://www.fs.fed.us/forum/nepa/sierranevada.

The Chief affirmed the Regional Forester's decision by saying that the minimum requirements of Federal law and regulation were met. However, he believes opportunities exist for refining the decision while further advancing consistency with current agency policy. The Chief instructed that certain aspects of the decision be subject to additional review and analysis.

The relationship between the Framework and the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group (HFQLG) Forest Recovery Act is one of the areas of concern that the Chief has asked the Regional Forester to review. He stated that further review is necessary to ensure that the five problem areas identified in the Framework were adequately balanced with goals of the HFQLG.
The management direction within the Framework is in effect during the review.
The Framework developed a conservation strategy for the California spotted owl that replaces both the CASPO (California spotted owl) Interim Direction and the mitigation measure of the HFQLG Record of Decision.

HFQLG projects comply with the standards and guidelines of this new owl strategy. The strategy includes canopy closure and large tree retention requirements. Ranger districts will implement as much of the pilot project as possible, although the new owl strategy will change the extent of treatments. Group selections planned for FY 01 in non-suitable owl habitat are continuing without modification.

As directed by the Regional Forester, an Administrative Study is being designed that investigates how owls and features of their habitat respond to certain silvicultural treatments. This study includes portions of the HFQLG Pilot Project area, and small group selections within suitable owl habitat are one of the silvicultural treatments proposed. In September 2001 a team of scientists, led by Dr. Peter Stine from the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, released a second draft which is available upon request. The final Administrative Study document is expected to be released in mid-January 2002.



Litigation

On June 12, 2001 Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled on the Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATs) lawsuit. In resolving the case the court dismissed several of the CATs claims, but did uphold the claim that the Forest Service failed to consider the environmental effects of maintaining DFPZs in the future. The court held that, in relation to DFPZ construction, maintenance was both a connected action and a cumulative action, and therefore had to be analyzed within the HFQLG FEIS.

The court ordered the Forest Service to release a Draft Supplemental EIS on the issue of DFPZ maintenance for public comment within 120 days. In response to the Judge's order, a Forest Service inter-disciplinary team released the Draft Supplemental EIS on October 5, 2001. Ongoing Pilot Project activities were allowed to continue during this time.

This Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), which in on the HFQLG website: www.fs.fed.us/r5/hfqlg/, evaluates options for maintaining DFPZs and provides an analysis of the likely environmental impacts associated with DFPZ maintenance.
The Forest Service preferred alternative presents a management scenario that relies on a mixture of methods to maintain DFPZs (including prescribed fire, herbicide, hand, and mechanical treatments). In designing this alternative, the interdisciplinary team used local vegetation conditions, growth models, and management direction for land allocations to predict likely DFPZ maintenance treatments in the Pilot Project area. The preferred alternative analyzes herbicide use only in the vegetation type where herbicides are the most effective maintenance method. This includes stands with tanoak, black oak and live oak.

All proposed DFPZ maintenance will undergo a site-specific analysis to determine actual maintenance treatments. Under the preferred alternative, herbicides will not be used in most DFPZ locations. Portions of DFPZs, even those in tanoak, black oak, and live oak stands, could be identified as herbicide-avoidance areas based on consultation with American Indian Tribes during the site-specific analysis. Herbicide use would be also be avoided in traditional gathering areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, areas along perennial streams, and in amphibian buffer areas.

People interested in receiving the document may contact the HFQLG Supplemental EIS Team, USDA Forest Service, P.O. Box 11500, Quincy, CA 95971, or by contacting Merri Carol Martens at the following e-mail: mmurray@fs.fed.us, or by calling (530) 283-7769. Informational meetings, designed to assist people in understanding the contents of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the HFQLG Pilot Project, will be provided upon request. Electronic comments may also be sent to: mmurray@fs.fed.us.

While comments are welcome at any time during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, comments on the SDEIS should be received by December 19, 2001.


HFQLG Pilot Project Monitoring Plan

Details of this plan are available from Monitoring Team Leader Wayne Johannson (530-283-7881).

 

Where to get more information: