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March 5, 2012
A Case Study in USFS planning: carrying out NFMA.
What is NFMA? It is legislation that requires all National
Forest's to develop a land use plan, which prescribes the
multiple uses which may occur on each acre, and which
defines how timber management shall occur. It includes
prescriptions of logging techniques allowable in different
types of forest-use zones.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie N.F.
Years after initial goals for having these plans completed,
the USFS finally issued them, frequently with court
challenges to their adequacy, only to have the Spotted Owl
debate hit their doorstep.
NFMA required resource capability analyses, and then
development of plans for management based on these
capabilities. PowerPoint file shows the variety of topics
considered, but these are only a condensation of the
underlying variables considered. Alternatives were
conceptualized using the NEPA process.
The NEPA process for federal agencies (mirror at the state
and local level).
Process & Plan elements:
•Formation of ID team (interdisciplianry team)
USFS inventory of land qualities
examples: OH of timber suitability
OH - old growth by elevation
oh WILDLIFE CRITICAL HABITAT.
Draft EIS: (Published in Dec. 1987)
CH I. Purpose and Need
•Identifies major issues, concerns, opportunities
CH II: Alternatives, including the proposed action
•Analyzes management strategies, allocation zones, defines
benchmarks, and methods for opportunity cost and
sensitivity analysis. Constraints on the
formulation of alternatives are defined.
•The alternatives are defined.
•The alternatives are compared, in terms of resource
outputs, inputs, and environmental effects. Economic
tradeoffs among the alternatives are defined.
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•Tradeoffs among the alternatives are discussed.
CH III - Describes the Affected Environment: ca 230 pp.
•Physical characteristics, botany, wildlife, fishery.
•Human community, native american values,
•Scenery, recreation, trails, wilderness, wild & scenic
rivers, research natural areas.
•Air quality, prescribed burning, fire.
•Land ownership, land use, built environment
CH IV - Environmental Consequences. ca. 197 pp.
•Management activities, general effects.
•Effects common to all alternatives
•Effects which vary among alternatives - detailed discussion
of elements of the affected environment - ca. 197 pp.
•Relationships between short-term uses of the environment
and maintenance and enhancement of long-term
•irreversable commitments of resources
•probable adverse environmental effects which cannot be
•environmental conditions unchanged by alternatives.
This is followed by lists of preparers, and agencies,
organizations and individuals sent the DEIS. A
A Process for identifying issues, concerns, opportunities
B Description of analytical process (ca. 260 pp.)
data inventory, forest planning model, economic
efficiency analysis, socioeconomic impact analysis,
analyses prior to formulation of alternatives,
formulation of alternatives, estimated effects of
benchmarks, constraints, and alternatives.
C. Analysis of Roadless Areas
D. Standards & Guidelines that differ from Forest Plan
E. Wild & Scenic Rivers
F. Selection of Harvest Cutting Method
G. Plans & Policies of other federal agencies, state & local
governments, and indian tribes.
H. Mangement Requirements
I. Best Management Practices for Soil and Water Protection.
Subsequent to publication of the DEIS, public comment is
invited. After a public comment period, the USFS then
prepares a Final Environmental Impact Statement.
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The Final EIS may have different alternatives than in the
DEIS; issues may arise that were not covered in the DEIS.
The Final EIS describes differences from the DEIS, and
includes another appendix: J. The Forest Service Response
HO: Description of Alternatives.
Order of alternatives in FEIS is from highest to lowest % of
the land suited for timber production allocated to that use.
(70% in A, 41% in G-Mod)
Overheads showing alternative treatment of the Mt. Baker
Alt. A - No action.
Brown, timber management emphasis
Orange, SOHA's. No scheduled timber harvest
Alt I. Market Oriented, emphasizes market place resource
values for timber, anadromous fish, developed
recreation & minerals.
19: Mountain hemlock zone, to be tested for timber
23: municipal watershed
red: old growth for species such as marten, pileated
yellow -foreground areas from highways.
light green with slashes: nonwilderness managed as
natural areas, dispersed recreation/wildlife.
purple: deer & elk winter range; timber manage to
B. RPA - high levels of timber, fish, big game, and
more purple compared to I
dark green: roaded recreation & timber management
blue: unique scenic, biological, botanic, geologic
H. Emphasis on unroaded recreation, protect foreground
scenic values in heavily travelled corridors, more
game, timber harvest in areas suitable and not assigned
to other objectives (This was the DEIS preferred
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Lots of light green, yellow, less purple (winter
J. Preferred alternative
More trail miles, more wild & scenic river designation,
increased emphasis on scenery & unroaded recreation;
timber production on acres assigned to timber harvest
C. Emphasis on primitive & semi primitive nonmotorized
lots of light green, yellow
also wild & scenic rivers.
G-Mod Maintain natural ecosystems, diversity of plants &
animals, timber production consistent with these goals.
Table S-2, summarizing quantitative resource outputs,
In addition to the FEIS, there is also:
The Forest Plan - detailed description of how alt J
would be implemented.
Record of Decision - legal declaration by the Regional
Forester that the plan satisfies NFMA, and ordering it's
Challenge opportunities.....to record of decision, to
Revision of process due to so many challenges...(ongoing)
Such as: the Old Growth issue.....which has led to the
invocation of the Endangered Species Act provisions:
requirement for a plan to recover the species...
Fish & Wildlife Service studies question of whether a
species is endangered: here read Northern Spotted Owl, and
indicator species found in old-growth forest environments.
Appointment of an interdisciplinary committee to
investigate issue....Jack Ward Thomas committee
ca. 2200 acres per breeding pair of owls -- ca. 4 sq. mi.,
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report to interagency committee
debates among environmental groups/industry groups and the
administration on how to implement a recovery program
impact on ongoing NFMA/other programs, esp. timber harvest:
Judge Dwyer's order barring timber sales in old-growth
until a recovery plan is adopted....USFS/
Role of President Clinton's Forest Conference, various
senators, congressmen, governors, etc., in the juggle
to bring some closure... Has led to strong reductions
in timber output beyond that programmed in the Forest
drop of sales, backlog from NF's in PNW....mill closures
resulting, exacerbated by recession in the early '90's.
The continuing fight over roadless areas - Clinton's
Rule-making regarding roading them.
So, currently (3/2012) we have a tug of war--leaving the
adopted Forest Plan in limbo--communities in limbo--forest
products industry w/o a supply of public timber....even at
levels programmed under the Clinton forest program level
Coming back to the 8 questions regarding management of
National Forest lands:
1. whose interests should be considered, and how? Local
residents vs. distant interested parties?
2. How should present values/interests be considered
or weighed against those of future generations?
3. How should interests organize or be "polled.?" At
present there is no systematic way of determining citizen
values on management of these lands....everything is totally
4. Should planning be like RPA, tops down, or more
like the Alpine Lakes, bottoms up?
5. Should Congress take an even stronger hand in
defining management of these lands, or has it gone too far,
and should agencies like the USFS or BLM have more
6. Should these land management programs be
economically cost effective, or should other values be the
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guiding framework for programs? If so, how should these
values be measured? Who defines them?
7. How should irreversabilities be considered?
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Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest Plan Alternatives
A: No change: based on 1963 timber management plans and subsequent changes,
but not with NFMA requirements.
A: No Action To comply with current plans, including NFMA
I. Market Place Alternative.
Developed to be responsive to the goals and objectives of the Public Land User's
Society, emphasizes those resources with an established price in the market
place: timber production, anadromous fish, developed recreation, and minerals.
Emphasis is also placed on enhancement of big game wildife and fish habitat,
and developing/maintaining an extensive trail system to accomodate a wide
vareity of users on a year-round basis. Other resources are managed at levels
that do not reduce the outputs from the market resources.
B: RPA program satisfaction.
Goals are to simultaneously produce high levels of timber, anadromous fish,
commonly hunted species of big game, and dispersed unroaded recreation.
H. DEIS Preferred Alternative
Emphasizes unroaded recreation, protection of scenic values in the foreground
and middleground of heavily travelled highway corridors; increasing big game
populations, plus emphasis on timber production on tentatively suitable acres
not assigned to other objectives.
J. FEIS Preferred Alternative
The preferred alternative was developed in response to public comments on the
draft EIS. Similar to H., but the preferrred alternative provides a considerable
increase in trail mileage, an increase in the number of rivers recommended for
addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system, three Special Areas,
increased emphasis on unroaded recreation, greater protection of scenic values
on travel corridors, and timber production on suitable acres assigned to a harvest
prescription. Other resources are managed at levels commensurate with the
objectives of the alternative.
C. Semi-primitive/primitive dispersed recreation, fish, and wildlife emphasis.
Emphasizes primitive and semi-primitive nonmotorized recreation
(accomplished through retention of existing roadless areas and, over time,
reversion of some roaded areas to unroaded condition); protects scenery, fish,
and wildlife habitat; protects sites and areas important to American Indians for
religious and cultural use.
Developed to be responsive to the goals and objectives of the conseravtion
liasion group, emphasizes natural ecosystems, diversity of native plants and
animals, providing uses not found on private land, an extensive trails system,
and timber production consistent with other goals.
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Selected Measures of output across alternatives.
Alternative: A I B H J C G-Mod
Timber % of
land suited 70% 65% 64% 60% 58% 43% 41%
Harvest - MMBF
Decade 1 149/204 129 127 116 108 66 87
& collector 26 34 28 11 15 15 13
Local roads 330 290 280 250 240 180 145
Roads closed x x x 20 x 300 65
% in 50 years 60/82% 86% 87% 60% 91% 97% 96%
Wild/Scenic 5 30/ all all
River Designation none none none rivers 47 elig. elig.
(thousand acres) none 93 79 61 54 36 113