REVISED MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
FOR NORTHWEST FOREST MANAGEMENT
This is an understanding among six parties:
The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
The Secretary of the Interior
The Secretary of Agriculture
The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
The Secretary of the Army
In 1993, the President initiated a comprehensive Northwest Forest Plan to end the impasse over management of federal forest lands in the Pacific Northwest within the range of the northern spotted owl. With the signing of the Northwest Forest Plan Record of Decision in 1994, a framework and a system of Standards and Guidelines were established, using a new ecosystem approach to address resource management. By taking an innovative approach based on ecosystem and watershed management, while also addressing economic and social impacts, the Northwest Forest Plan transcends traditional administrative boundaries.
Successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan has required and continues to require unprecedented cooperation, coordination, and collaboration, among the participating federal agencies and with states, tribes, and local governments. This collaboration must continue.
The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to establish and maintain an interagency framework to achieve two distinct goals. The first goal is cooperative planning, improved decision making, and coordinated implementation of the forest ecosystem management component of the Northwest Forest Plan on federal lands within the range of the northern spotted owl. The second goal is improved coordination and collaboration with state, tribal, and local governments as they seek to implement management approaches that support or complement the goals of the Northwest Forest Plan. Fulfillment of both of these goals is integral to the Administration's commitment to provide an ecosystem management approach that is scientifically sound, ecologically credible, and legally responsible.
Signatories to this Memorandum of Understanding agree to:
• continue to refine and implement a cohesive vision and shared sense of mission for the management of federal forest lands that balances multiple objectives, including the restoration and conservation of forest ecosystems and the production of sustainable economic and social benefits from the forests;
• improve their ability to monitor and evaluate their progress toward established goals, and to adapt to change, as appropriate, in a cohesive manner;
• cultivate greater trust, coordination, and collaboration among federal agencies, within individual agencies, and with state, tribal, and local governments;
• integrate the best scientific information available from research and monitoring into adaptive management decisions;
• build a seamless, current, and accessible information network to support ecosystem management on federal lands;
• share information, technology, and expertise, and pool resources, in order to make and implement better informed decisions related to ecosystem and adaptive management across jurisdictional boundaries;
• improve integrated application of agency budgets to maximize efficient use of funds toward the Northwest Forest Plan effort;
• coordinate Northwest Forest Plan activities with related or complementary efforts of state, tribal, and local governments;
• coordinate the ecosystem management aspects of Northwest Forest Plan implementation with the economic, labor, and community assistance aspects of the Northwest Forest Plan.
The following interagency groups will continue to develop, monitor, and oversee the implementation of the comprehensive forest management strategy for federal forests within the range of the northern spotted owl. They will support the development, implementation, and periodic adjustment of land and resource management plans of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. This agreement does not substitute for or alter the line authority of individual agencies.
It is the intent of this revised Memorandum of Understanding to describe the functions of only the primary coordination structures, with the understanding that the federal agencies may establish additional coordination mechanisms, and modify existing ones, as needed.
This Memorandum of Understanding is intended to enable and encourage the signatory agencies to be creative and to consider a full range of approaches to achieve intergovernmental cooperation and collaboration in support of the Northwest Forest Plan. The signatory agencies will use the interagency structures as forums to discuss the full range of significant federal, state, and local initiatives that relate to successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan.
The signatory agencies agree that continuity of membership in implementing groups is to be encouraged.
A. Interagency Steering Committee: The Interagency Steering Committee will serve as the Washington, D.C. interagency forum for policy guidance and coordination of the continued implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan by all relevant federal agencies, and will address and resolve issues referred to it by the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, described below. The Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality will serve as chair of the Interagency Steering Committee.
The Interagency Steering Committee shall be comprised of the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, relevant policy officials at the level of Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary, or Assistant Administrator, and the chief official of each of the agencies represented on the Regional Interagency Executive Committee. In addition, an offer of participation may be extended to representatives of the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice, and others as determined by the Chair. In appropriate situations, the Interagency Steering Committee may wish to hear from non-federal participants involved in regional or provincial advisory committees.
The Interagency Steering Committee will meet periodically, preferably twice each year, to receive from the Regional Interagency Executive Committee an interagency briefing on current issues, status of work, and anticipated problems, and to provide advice on issues referred by the regional executives. The Interagency Steering Committee may also address other national or regional ecosystem management initiatives of common concern to member agencies.
B. Regional Interagency Executive Committee: The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will serve as the senior regional entity to assure the prompt, coordinated, and successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan at the regional level, including ecosystem-scale monitoring and adaptive management. It will serve as the principal conduit for communications between the region and the national Interagency Steering Committee. It will be responsible for implementing the directives of the Interagency Steering Committee, reporting regularly on implementation progress, and referring issues relating to the policies or procedures for implementing the Northwest Forest Plan to the Interagency Steering Committee.
The Regional Interagency Executive Committee shall be comprised of the chief regional official or director (as appropriate) of the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pacific Northwest Research Station of the Forest Service, Office of Research and Development of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey. (The last three are referred to hereafter as the "Research Executives.")
The Regional Interagency Executive Committee may alter this membership if it so chooses, and in appropriate situations, it will consult with other federal agencies, and state, tribal, and local governments.
The chair of the Committee will alternate between the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management representatives.
The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will seek advice from the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, constituted under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, regarding implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan on federal land, and will coordinate with the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee for better integration of forest ecosystem management activities among federal and non-federal governmental entities across jurisdictional boundaries.
The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will coordinate with the Regional Community Economic Revitalization Team of the Northwest Economic Adjustment Initiative on ecosystem activities that are in concert with federal, state, and local programs for economic, labor, and community assistance. A primary goal of this coordination is to implement ecosystem restoration and other ecosystem investments that are consistent with priorities for community assistance.
The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will be accountable to the Interagency Steering Committee for establishment, oversight, and guidance of the Regional Ecosystem Office, Provincial Interagency Executive Committees, Provincial Advisory Committees, and other coordination and advisory groups that are intended to successfully implement the Northwest Forest Plan. The Regional Interagency Executive Committee may conduct periodic reviews of these groups and present recommendations for change to the Interagency Steering Committee.
C. Intergovernmental Advisory Committee: The Intergovernmental Advisory Committee will continue to be chartered under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act to advise the Regional Interagency Executive Committee regarding implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan on federal lands and to provide a forum for better integration of forest ecosystem management activities among federal and non-federal governmental entities across jurisdictional boundaries. The Committee provides policy advice concerning Northwest Forest Plan issues including but not limited to: concerns of federal, state and local programs for economic, labor, and community assistance; interagency research and monitoring goals; complementary programs of federal, state, tribal, and local efforts to restore and maintain ecosystem health; and priorities for data management and applications.
The Intergovernmental Advisory Committee is comprised of: members of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee; representatives from state governments in California, Oregon, and Washington; representatives from governments of affected counties in California, Oregon, and Washington; representatives of tribal governments; and representation from regional and/or state Community Economic Revitalization Teams.
The Chair of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee will alternate annually between the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management representatives. The Committee may establish such working groups or subcommittees as it may find necessary. These working groups or subcommittees may include, consistent with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, representatives of non-governmental organizations that have an interest in the implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan.
D. Regional Ecosystem Office: The Regional Ecosystem Office serves as a staff office for, and acts under the direction of, the regional executives acting as a collective body through the Regional Interagency Executive Committee. The Office will be responsible for developing, evaluating, and recommending resolution of consistency and implementation issues including but not limited to: geographic information systems, adaptive management guidelines, monitoring, research, late-successional reserves, "survey and manage" species, and interpretation of the Record of Decision by Provincial Interagency Executive Committees.
In support of implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan, and pursuant to an annual work plan developed in conjunction with the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, the Regional Ecosystem Office will:
• assist agencies in the development and implementation of both short and long-term plans for Northwest Forest Plan implementation and periodically provide a summary report on the status of Northwest Forest Plan implementation;
• facilitate coordination among, and/or provide support to, various work groups, including but not limited to work groups on: geographic information systems, adaptive management areas, monitoring, research, late-successional reserves, and "survey and manage" species.
• provide, as appropriate, a focal point for scientific, technical, administrative, and program support;
• facilitate the evaluation of major modifications to the Northwest Forest Plan conservation strategies or proposed changes to the Standards and Guidelines;
• facilitate periodic evaluation by the Regional Interagency Executive Committee of the interagency structure described in this section, and recommend modifications to the Regional Interagency Executive Committee as needed to improve interagency coordination and collaboration, adapt interagency structures to changing needs, and reflect progress in Northwest Forest Plan implementation;
• support the formulation and implementation of interagency geographic information systems and data standards;
• provide staff support to the operations of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee;
• provide, at the direction of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, coordination and support for activities at the province level.
E. Research and Monitoring Group: The Research and Monitoring Group represents the Research Executives in presenting an independent science perspective in intergovernmental forums. The Group facilitates intergovernmental activities to accomplish the following goals:
• Scientific research on fundamental questions underlying basic assumptions of the Northwest Forest Plan;
• Development of research and monitoring plans;
• Communication of scientific findings, technical transfer, and opportunities to facilitate adaptive management;
• Independent scientific review, evaluation, and analysis.
The Research and Monitoring Group is comprised of scientists representing the research agencies, with members appointed by the Research Executives. The Group is responsible to the Research Executives for science findings, interpretations, and positions. The Group also works with members of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee to facilitate the interface between science and management. In those situations, the Group continues to be responsible to the Research Executives but coordinates with the Regional Interagency Executive Committee through the Regional Ecosystem Office. The Research and Monitoring Group will utilize standing and ad hoc committees as needed to accomplish the above goals. These committees will be established by the Research and Monitoring Group in cooperation with the Research Executives in situations involving science issues, or with the Regional Interagency Executive Committee on issues involving the integration of science and management.
F. Interorganizational Resource Information Coordinating Council: The Interorganizational Resource Information Coordinating Council, a subcommittee of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, will, with the support of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee and the Regional Ecosystem Office, bring participating organizations together and assist those organizations in building a seamless, current, and accessible information network to support ecosystem management through: identification of key data sets; formulation of standards; establishment of data management priorities; applications, and data maintenance protocols; and recommendations for stewardship of regional data.
G. Province-Level Organizations: Provincial Interagency Executive Committees will be established for each of 12 provinces to support the successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan at the province level, under the general direction of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee. Each Provincial Interagency Executive Committee may, under guidance from the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, undertake specific activities within its province, to include but not limited to:
• Coordinating landscape analyses to assess the health and condition of watersheds and to consider socio-economic conditions in local communities;
• Sharing information to support better decisions regarding the health of the ecosystem, including watersheds and local communities;
• Identifying mutual goals, objectives, and priorities to support coordinated watershed restoration and conservation strategies;
• Sharing technology and expertise within the province;
• Coordinating and conducting monitoring within the province;
• Encouraging complementary ecosystem management among federal and non-federal landowners within the province while respecting the rights of non-federal landowners;
• Coordinating ecosystem management activities in concert with federal, state, tribal, and local programs for economic, labor, and community assistance.
Landscape-level data analysis (such as river basin assessments) and monitoring undertaken by the Provincial Interagency Executive Committees should be based on appropriate joint data standards that tier to regional or watershed scales.
Provincial Advisory Committees will continue to be chartered under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Membership shall include representatives of federal, state, local and tribal governments, and a variety of other interests. Provincial Advisory Committees shall make recommendations to federal agencies through the Provincial Interagency Executive Committees regarding coordination and implementation of ecosystem strategies pursuant to the Northwest Forest Plan. They shall also participate, where appropriate, in collaborative planning at the province level across federal and non-federal boundaries. In appropriate cases, Provincial Interagency Executive Committees may find it desirable to use mechanisms other than, or in addition to, Provincial Advisory Committees in order to obtain advice from non-federal entities.
The term of this agreement is five years from the date of execution. Each agency's participation in this agreement shall be subject to the availability of funds. The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will consider annually whether modifications to this agreement are appropriate.
/s/ Kathleen a. McGinty
Chair, Council on Environmental Quality
/s/ Bruce Babbitt
Secretary of the Interior
/s/ Dan Glickman
Secretary of Agriculture
/s/ Carol W. Browner
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
/s/ D. James Baker
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
/s/ Joseph W. Westphal
Secretary of the Army
Date of Execution -- October 19, 1998