REPLACING INTERIM DIRECTION
Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project
Requirements or Authority for New Long-term Management Direction -
Requirements or authority for permanent ecosystem-based management direction have come from:
directives; commitments made through interim direction; and court orders including Pacific Rivers Council vs.
Commitments Made Through Interim Direction -
Three separate interim management strategies apply to much of the project area. Decisions made as a result
of the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project will replace that direction. Those strategies
and their commitments for the project are:
- PACFISH - Implementation of Interim Strategies for Managing Anadromous Fish-Producing Watersheds
in Eastern Oregon and Washington, Idaho, and portions of California (February 24, 1995): Calls for a
long-term strategy to be developed and evaluated for slowing the degradation and beginning the
restoration of aquatic and riparian ecosystems for anadromous fish.
- Eastside Screens - Interim Management Direction Establishing Riparian, Ecosystem, and Wildlife
Standards for Timber Sales (May 20, 1994; amended June 5, 1995; riparian standards replaced July 28,
1995): Screens were designed to maintain habitat options for species that were considered to be
associated with eastside old growth forests. The intent of the screens was to retain key habitat features
and management options until a larger-scale analysis and Environmental Impact Statement could be
completed and provide new direction.
- INFISH -
Inland Native Fish Strategy (July 28, 1995): Calls for long-term management direction to protect
habitat and populations of resident native fishes outside anadromous fish habitat.
Related Litigation -
There have been an increasing number of appeals and lawsuits over federal land management decisions,
plans, and activities. Several legal cases have influenced the decision to plan at the broad-scale to address
the issues such as species viability, biodiversity, and related cumulative effects..
In the case Prairie Woods Products et. al. vs. Glickman et. al. Judge Hogan's order clearly contemplates the
completion of long-term strategies to replace the Eastside Screens and PACFISH. In his ruling, Hogan
stated, "There is no evidence in the record that the Forest Service abused its discretion or acted in an
arbitrary or capricious manner by taking into account the fact that the interim screens and PACFISH were
slated for replacement by the long-term Interior Columbia River Basin strategies or by failing to consider the
impacts of such long-term strategies."
In the case Friends of the Wild Swan et. al. vs. U.S. Forest Service et. al. Judge Jones upheld less thorough
viability analyses in ruling that the Forest Service intended PACFISH and INFISH to be short-term, interim
strategies and while working on a more a permanent long-term strategy, the Interior Columbia Basin
Ecosystem Management Project.
Biological Opinions -
Biological Opinions on the Land and Resource Management Plans as amended by PACFISH and INFISH
provide reasonable and prudent measures, implementing terms and conditions and conservation
recommendations. These Endangered Species Act requirements and recommendations, which are applicable
to significant portions of the project area, are included in Alternative S1, Chapter 3, as part of the no-action
- January 1995 - National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issues a Biological Opinion on the interim
PACFISH strategy. NMFS determined that the proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued
existence of listed Snake River salmon or result in the destruction of adverse modification of designated
- March 1995 - NMFS issues a Biological Opinion on eight Forest Plans, as amended by PACFISH, within
the Snake River Basin. NMFS finds that forest activities may result in both immediate, localized project
effects and longer-term broader effects to listed Snake River salmon. NMFS concludes that the
importance of a Forest Plan to listed salmon depends on the degree to which its development potential
is realized through site-specific activities. If implementation of the plans were maximized, NMFS would
conclude that the actions realized under a Forest Plan are likely to jeopardize listed salmon and adversely
modify critical habitat. NMFS concluded that the USFS would be better able to ensure that the standards
of ESA are satisfied at the project level. This opinion also included suggestions for addressing the
long-term needs of Snake River salmon in the geographically-specific EIS being prepared by the Project.
- June 1998 - NMFS issues a Biological Opinion on 18 USFS and BLM land management plans in
response to the listing of Snake River and Upper Columbia River steelhead. This opinion also contained
the results of reinitiation of consultation (March 1995 Biological Opinion) on the effects of Snake River
Basin land management plans on listed Snake River chinook and sockeye. NMFS determined that
continued implementation of the 18 land management plans is not likely to jeopardize the continued
existence of listed anadromous fish or result in destruction or adverse modification of designated critical
habitat. This opinion also addressed past commitments and implementation deficiencies associated with
the PACFISH and March 1995 BiOps. It also identified mechanisms to address PACFISH deficiencies
as a longer-term strategy, monitoring and watershed restoration.
- August 1998 - USFWS issues a Biological Opinion on 40 USFS and BLM land management plans as
amended by INFISH or instruction memorandum in response to the listing of bull trout. USFWS
concluded that continued implementation of the land management plans is not likely to jeopardize the
continued existence of bull trout. No critical habitat has been designated for the species, therefore, none
will be affected. This opinion contained similar reasonable and prudent measures and terms and
conditions as the June 1998 NMFS Biological Opinions.