Wildlife Conservation Strategy

image of blue bird

Lazuli bunting:  The colorful lazuli bunting, a species that will be evaluated in Phase 1 of the WCS, thrives in shrublands within the forest.

 

What is the WCS ?

The Payette National Forest is developing a Wildlife Conservation Strategy (WCS) in accordance with its Forest Plan. The analysis supporting the WCS is very complex because it must address many species and their habitats. To reduce the complexity, the Forest is completing its WCS through a four-phase approach based on biological communities.

The WCS will prioritize for the next 10-15 years the types of activities that should be undertaken to help maintain or restore habitat for wildlife species in greatest need of conservation. The WCS will also identify where these actions are most needed.

What Happens Next?

On January 13, 2011, Payette National Forest Supervisor Suzanne C. Rainville released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that proposes to amend the 2003 Forest Plan to include a Wildlife Conservation Strategy (WCS) for the Forested Biological Community.                                                                                                                       

The goal of the WCS is to maintain or restore forested habitats that provide for a diversity of terrestrial wildlife species, consistent with overall multiple-use objectives. The short-term emphasis is on restoring habitats associated with species of greatest concern, such as low- to mid-elevation ponderosa pine forests, which provide white-headed woodpecker habitat. The amendment moves all forested acres to a restoration emphasis. The volume of timber and other outputs will likely change very little, but the treatment types and locations will adjust to meet the new objectives. Commodity outputs will be an outcome of restoration.

The DEIS documents the analysis of proposed amendments to the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Payette NF to incorporate a comprehensive WCS. Two action alternatives evaluate proposed changes, additions, or deletions of management direction designed to achieve eight specific needs. The first action alternative is the proposed action; the second action alternative was developed to address issues raised during the scoping period.

The preferred alternative is Alternative B, the Proposed Action. A key feature of Alternative B is reallocating about 247,000 acres from a management prescription category that emphasizes commodity production within forested landscapes to one that emphasizes restoration and maintenance.

Background

In 2007, the Boise, Payette, and Sawtooth NFs sent a letter notifying people of proposed amendments to each of their respective 2003 Forest Plans and requesting comments, as part of the project scoping period. Later that year (after the 2007 fire season), the three Forest Supervisors (the persons in charge of the Boise, Payette, and Sawtooth NFs, respectively) recognized that, since the Forest Plan revisions were completed in 2003, all three Forests had experienced extensive wildfires that might have substantially changed vegetative conditions in many areas from those that existed in 2003. Although the Forest Plan amendment process was underway, the three Forests decided to delay completion of the DEISs so that an update to the vegetative “baseline” conditions (“snapshot in time” of existing vegetative conditions) could be completed and incorporated into the amendment process. This update was completed in the winter of 2008-2009.

How the Recent Wildfires Affected the Forested Vegetation – and the WCS?
 
In late 2007, the three Forest Supervisors (the persons in charge of the Boise, Payette and Sawtooth National Forests) recognized that, since the Forest Plan revisions were completed in 2003, all three Forests have experienced extensive wildfires that may have substantially changed vegetative conditions in many areas from those that existed in 2003. Although the WCS was already underway, the three Forests decided to delay the WCS so that an update of the vegetation “baseline” conditions (“snapshot in time” of existing conditions) could be completed and incorporated into the amendment process. This update was completed in the winter of 2008-2009.

What Happens After the Draft?

After comments on each draft environmental document are received and addressed, each Forest will prepare a final environmental document. Based on the comments received and the environmental analysis described in the final environmental document, each Forest Supervisor will make a decision for his or her Forest.

How You Can Comment

 Send written comments to Robert Giles, WCS Project Manager, Payette National Forest; 800 West Lakeside Avenue, McCall, Idaho 83638; or by fax at 208-634-0744; or you may also hand-deliver your comments to this office, at the same address, during normal business hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays. Electronic comments must be submitted in a format such as an e-mail message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Word (.doc) to: comments-intermtn-payette@fs.fed.us. Written comments on the DEIS must be submitted within 90 days of publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the DEIS in the Federal Register, anticipated on January 21, 2011.

 How You Can Stay Involved
 Contact Sue Dixon at (208) 634-0796 to be added to the mailing list.

For More Information

For further information about the DEIS and amendment process, go to the  Project web page or Robert Giles, Project Manager, Payette National Forest, at the address above or telephone 208-634-0700.

Thank you for your interest in National Forest management!