Forest Plan Evaluation & Monitoring
In 2003, the Payette NF completed revision of its 1988 Land and Resource Management Plan (hereafter, called the 1988 Forest Plan). The Regional Forester signed the Record of Decision for the revised Forest Plan on July 25, 2003. The revised Plan (hereafter also called the Forest Plan) went into effect September 7, 2003. The Forest Plan defines a strategy for the next 10-15 years and describes desired conditions for Forest ecosystems. It sets goals, objectives, standards, and guidelines that emphasize maintaining and restoring watershed conditions, species viability, terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and healthy, functioning ecosystems. (Link to 2003 LRMP)
The goal of Forest Plan monitoring is to determine what is working well and what is not, and to help identify what changes are needed in management direction or monitoring methods. Monitoring and evaluation are key parts of adaptive management. They track how projects are meeting the Forest Plan’s desired condition. They provide the information to keep the Forest Plan viable. Monitoring and evaluation tell how Forest Plan decisions have been implemented, how effective the implementation has proven to be in accomplishing desired outcomes, and evaluates the validity of the underlying management strategy expressed in the Forest Plan.
Chapter IV of the Forest Plan, “Implementation”, describes the Payette’s monitoring and evaluation strategy. It lists the activities, practices, and effects to monitor and the indicators, or measures, to track in Tables IV-1 and IV-2. Most of the elements require annual data gathering and they are designed to evaluate the effects of management over several years. Therefore, results of monitoring for most elements will be reported after evaluation of data gathered over multiple years.
Consultation is a mandated process under which the Forest Service consults with the Agencies responsible for the management of species protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (hereafter called “listed species”) when actions proposed by the Forest Service have the potential to affect listed species or their habitat. In the case of listed wildlife and non-anadramous fish species the Forest consults with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), for listed anadramous fish, with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
A Biological Assessment (BA) is the written report of the Forest Service’s analysis of the impacts of a selected management alternative on listed species, and is prepared by a Forest Service Wildlife or Fisheries Biologist. If the Biologist concludes that a project may negatively impact a listed species then the regulatory agency (USFWS or NMFS) responsible for management of the listed species will issue a Biological Opinion (BO) which may include “Terms and Conditions” which the Forest must follow when implementing the project. Terms and Conditions are management standards which must be followed during project implementation.
2008 Five Year LRMP Evaluation Report
This five-year review provides an evaluation of the information gathered over the first five years of plan implementation. Evaluation is more than reporting facts and figures. Forest plan evaluation summarizes how forest plan decisions have been implemented, how effective the implementation has proved to be in accomplishing desired outcomes, what we learned along the way, and how valid our assumptions are that led us to decide what we did in the plan. In short, the five-year evaluation report is critical to evaluating whether there is a “need to change” our Forest Plan. The five-year monitoring report included a discussion of the results of the data gathered over the first five years of plan implementation and how that data relates to accomplishment of a sampling of Forest Plan objectives (USDA Forest Service 2009). The five-year evaluation report summarizes whether that information indicates a need for change in Forest Plan direction.