Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project      December 2000

Forest & Rangeland Health

The Proposed Decision is expected to achieve forest conditions and trends that are more in balance with historic disturbance (i.e., fire, insects, and disease) regimes on BLM and Forest Service administered lands within the project area. This will result in declines in uncharacteristic wildfire effects, uncharacteristic insect and disease, and a better mix of forest habitats and improved forest health.

The Proposed Decision is expected to increase the extent of shade-intolerant trees such as ponderosa pine, western larch, and western white pine. The Proposed Decision would also increase the extent of large trees and old forests, especially in the single story structures.

Vegetation and soil conditions would trend toward historic conditions over extensive portions of the project area over the long-term. This trend toward historic conditions is particularly evident in High Restoration Priority Subbasins where there is a greater concentration of restoration activities (such as prescribed fire treatments). The wheatgrass bunchgrass, fescue-bunchgrass, and mountain sagebrush vegetation types, which have declined substantially in geographic extent from historic conditions, would increase in extent where the reintroduction of fire achieves reduction in woody species encroachment (such as western juniper).

The rate of spread of noxious weeds and other exotic undesirable plants on BLM and Forest Service administered lands would be slowed under the Proposed Decision.

Fish & Wildlife

A primary objective of the Proposed Decision is to improve and maintain habitat conditions for fish and wildlife species. Following are some key aspects of the direction that are designed to achieve these objectives:

Watershed Condition Indicators are also included in the management direction to assess the effectiveness of management actions in achieving aquatic/riparian/hydrologic objectives.

Analysis processes of Subbasin Review and Ecosystem Analysis at the Watershed Scale(EAWS) would also be implemented to promote the most appropriate placement and timing of management activities and to identify and avoid risks to endangered fish and wildlife species. Subbasin Reviews would be conducted for all subbasins within the first seven years of implementation and within 3 years for subbasins designated as restoration priorities. EAWS would occur prior to actions that might negatively impact endangered fish species, or certain important terrestrial species habitat.


40 Subbasins have been identified as High Priority to Restore Subbasins. While restoration would continue to occur throughout the Basin, from a broad-scale perspective, restoration activities conducted in these areas would provide the most beneficial results. This broad-scale information would help target funds and resources to those areas where we can most effectively address the landscape and socioeconomic issues facing the basin.

Implementation of the Proposed Decision should result in a 40% increase in treated forest/woodland acres, a 9% increase in treated rangeland acres, and a 7 fold (700%) increase in the amount of acres treated with prescribed fire/fuels management.

Uncharacteristic Wildfire

Under the Proposed Decision, there would be a reduction in the size, severity, and other unwanted effects of uncharacteristic wildfires as a result of restoration efforts. There would be a reduction in uncharacteristic wildfire of approximately 15% from current levels.


The management direction and associated analysis requirements are expected to decrease the amount of disturbance resulting from roads. There would be decreases in adverse road effects with both short and long-term benefits to hydrologic function and watershed processes.


The Proposed Decision would provide more consistent and effective consultation direction which should lead to improvements in government-to-government consultation and provide more opportunities for tribal involvement in both planning and decision-making processes than currently exist. The higher rate and intensity of restoration combined with increases in the amount of fine scale restoration is predicted to be more responsive to the social and ecological needs of tribes.


There would be an estimated 22% increase in timber harvest volume over current levels. While total timber harvest volumes would increase under the Proposed Decision, the size and quality of the logs produced would decline somewhat due to the types of restoration activities needed in the forests and woodlands. Timber outputs would come primarily from commercial thinning and other harvest activities designed to promote forest ecosystem restoration.

In the first decade of implementation, we estimate a decline of 10% in animal unit months (AUMs) for livestock grazing on agency lands. There are no specific levels of, or limits on, AUMs that are required by the proposed decision. Rather, expected reductions would come about indirectly as a result of implementing objectives and standards for watershed and rangeland protection and restoration.

Output / Activity Proposed Decision

Animal Unit Months (AUMs) 2,798,000

Timber Harvest Volume (million board feet) 990

Forest/Woodland Restoration (acres) 199,000

Rangeland Restoration (acres) 3,339,000

Prescribed Fire/Fuels Management 1,456,000


It is estimated that there are approximately 95,000 jobs associated with livestock grazing, timber harvest, and recreation (1% in livestock grazing, 9% in timber harvest, 81% in recreation, and the remaining 8% in forestry related services.) Direct employment generated from Forest Service and BLM administered lands would increase under the Proposed Decision by approximately 4,000 and 3,000 jobs respectively. The increases represent a 4% gain with respect to the total 95,000 jobs.