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BLM Grazing Permits and Leases


QUESTION from an Investigative Reporter: (posted 3/20/02)

I'd appreciate any advice you could offer in how I'd go about gathering as much information from BLM as possible about the allotments in Nevada, the permit holders, condition of range, last time assessed, that kind of thing. I think there's about 1,000 in Nevada. 


RESPONSE from Larry Walker:

Here are some leads on accumulating BLM information. 

First, their web site is one of the few things BLM does right. You can find it at http://www.blm.gov/ . Of particular interest is the annual publication Public Land Statistics that you can find links to at http://www.blm.gov/publications/ for 1996 through 2000. You might want to start with the 1999 edition as the 2000 edition does not have a very good table of contents (it only lists table numbers, not table titles). 

Next, you should contact Ned Habich, Inventory and Monitoring Specialist (phone 303-236-0166, email <Ned_Habich@blm.gov>). Ned is at: 

Ned Habich (ST-132)
National Science & Technology Center
P.O. Box 25047
Bldg. 50, Denver Federal Center
Denver, Colorado 80225-0047

I would recommend that you call Ned first and talk with him about what you want. Some things have probably changed since I retired, and Ned will know what reports are available on inventory and monitoring that might be of interest of you. There is one report that you want in particular. That is the most recent Rangeland Inventory and Monitoring Report compiled in accordance with BLM Manual H-4400-1, Chapter V. Tell Ned that you want the compiled report that shows all information for all reporting elements by state, and that he sends copies of to BLM State Offices each year. While the elements reported may have changed somewhat since I retired, they included: Acres Inventoried, Acres by Range/Ecological condition, Acres by Trend, Allotments/Acres by management Category, Monitoring & Evaluations by Allotments/Acres, Allotment Management Plans/Coordinated Activity Plans by Allotments/Acres, and riparian monitoring. 

This report will provide a lot of the information that you want compiled as totals for Nevada. If you want a finer breakdown, you will have to contact BLM's Nevada State Office, or even the individual BLM Field Offices and request what they submitted for the report (cite the BLM Manual to them). 

Another person that you should contact is Leon Pack, Grazing & Range Systems Manager (phone 303-236-0156, email <Leon_Pack@blm.gov>). Leon is at: 

Leon Pack (ST-134)
National Science & Technology Center
P.O. Box 25047
Bldg. 50, Denver Federal Center
Denver, Colorado 80225-0047

Leon knows all there is to know about generating reports from BLM's grazing billing database (was called GABS when I retired, may be something else now). This is where you can get things broken down by things like allotment, operator, AUMs authorized, AUMs nonuse, and so forth. Again, I would call Leon and find out what might be available as standard reports and what it would take/cost for custom reports if what you want is not available in a standard report. 

Another item you want would have to be obtained from the individual BLM Field Offices. That is the breakdown by allotment of what monitoring and evaluations they have done recently. Again, I would call and ask to talk with whoever is in charge of rangeland monitoring. Tell them what you want, and if they balk - then refer them to the "Monitoring and Evaluation Plan" (MEP) that they are supposed to have and follow in accordance with BLM Manual H-4400-1 Chapter I(A). You might also want to request a copy of all monitoring evaluations that they completed in 2000 (or other years). Some of these can be pretty long (60 pages or so), but can be real eye openers. Failure to do these evaluations as scheduled in MEPs, by the way, is one of the reasons that we have won so many lawsuits for BLM failing to consider new information under NEPA. 

They have known for over a decade that BLM Manual H-4400-1 Chapter IV requires them to conduct an evaluation at least "coordinated with the renewal schedule of long-term (10-year) grazing permits and leases" for all categories of allotments, and more often on category "I" allotments as provided in H-4400-1 (IV)(A)(2)(a). Therefore, there was no excuse for the appropriations bill riders in 1999 and 2000 allowing renewal of permits and leases in the absence of NEPA compliance. When the evaluations have been properly done, technical compliance with NEPA is a cinch. Sustainability of the interpretations in the evaluation is another matter. 

You might also want to get a copy of the BLM Manual I've cited above from BLM's NSTC, and a copy of any BLM Nevada state supplements to that manual from BLM's Nevada State Office. Having these would go a long way toward your evaluation of just how well BLM in Nevada is following BLM's own policies. 

Larry Walker
Range Conservationist (retired)


Questions from Idaho Watersheds Project:

This is primarily addressed to Johanna Wald since she has the longest involvement with the BLM of anyone, but I would appreciate comments from all.

IWP, as an interested public on approximately17 separate BLM Resource Areas in 4 states, is beginning to receive term grazing permit renewals for permits which have expired or will expire in 1999 as "proposed decisions" from everywhere. These permits are for 10 years, and in the case of Oregon's Vale District are not "proposed decisions" at all. Some from Idaho were preceded 3 months ago by scoping letters. Note that these are not just "interim" permits for 1999 as permitted under the rider to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of last fall but are full ten year permits.

The BLM, when it does any show of NEPA compliance at all, is offering these permits under "Administrative Determinations" (ADs) of NEPA compliance. These ADs are merely checklists saying that there is no new information and that all environmental consequences have been adequately analysed in a prior NEPA compliant document to which they tier the AD. I am sure you have all seen similar documents. The prior "NEPA compliant" documents are usually MFP EISs from the late 70's, early eighties, or mid eighties. Some of the latter ones are attached to actual RMPs (for what they're worth !).

To give you an example of the degree of thoroughness the BLM is exercising: I have one permit renewal for an allotment in the Bruneau Resource Area in Idaho near the Nevada border which states that: "the allotment has two miles of Sheep Creek on it which was identified in the Bruneau MFP (1981) for improvement. Recent aerial reconnaissance of this section of the creek shows it to be in "fair" condition" . When I spoke to the range con, Steve Jirik, about this he told me that the BLM did not know why the two miles of Sheep Creek was listed for improvement since "the permittee said that his cows had trouble getting into the bottom because of the canyon". I asked him if he had been there and he said no he had not, and no one else had either. He said that the staff did not have time to ground-truth all allotments. When I proposed that a permit renewal was a good time (because permittees are under pressure to sign permits offered by the agency) to add terms and conditions to ensure compliance with 43 CFR 4180 (as required by regulation) such as annual stubble height, stream bank trampling, woody browse, and cobble-embeddedness standards, he said they had not considered that "at this time"!

My questions are:

1. Can the BLM nationally be legally forced to have standardized grazing permit renewal procedure which pursuant to the IBLA's Comb Wash decision would require at a minimum an EA ? And, therefore, is it time to have a national case ?

2. Or is the agency exempted by the Wyoming case Tom Lustig has been working on, where the BLM claims an  interpretation that grazing is an "ongoing activity" (like a radio station license under FCC permit) under the federal APA and therefore a permit must be issued even if the agency must do NEPA compliant analysis in some ill-defined interim period ? And if the federal APA does apply, are the ADs NEPA compliant when the original EIS is so old ?

3. Does it matter ?

********************************************

Response from RangeBiome to Idaho Watersheds Project:

Having been "involved with the BLM" about as long as Johanna, except from the other side as a BLM employee responding to Johanna, I'll take an initial cut at your questions. I'll try to not be too long-winded here, but I'll flesh out what I am saying and give some additional information and links on-line at a new RangeNet Project (http://www.rangenet.org/projects) that I'll start for "BLM Grazing Permits and Leases".

Question 1: "1. Can the BLM nationally be legally forced to have standardized grazing permit renewal procedure which
pursuant to the IBLA's Comb Wash decision would require at a minimum an EA ? And, therefore, is it time to have a national
case ?"

Response: I think this is more a case of getting BLM to nationally comply with standardized NEPA compliance procedures that they already have in place. These are contained in BLM Manual Handbook H-1790-1 "National Environmental Policy Act Handbook" which is available on the web at <http://www.blm.gov/nhp/efoia/wo/handbook/h1790-1.html>. You would be particularly interested in Chapter 1 "Screening for NEPA Compliance" and Chapter 3 "Using Existing Environmental Analysis". At the end of Chapter 3, there is a section titled "Optional Plan Conformance/NEPA Compliance Record" that lays out what the BLM should be considering and reviewing. If they have not done at least this much in their Administrative Determination (AD), then NAIL THEM! I'll post some additional "clarifying material" that BLM issued by instruction memoranda in 1990 and 1991 when this was previously a "hot issue" in the RangeNet Project. I'll also discuss some implications of monitoring and evaluation policy that apply to this at the end of this message.

Question 2: "2. Or is the agency exempted by the Wyoming case Tom Lustig has been working on, where the BLM claims an interpretation that grazing is an "ongoing activity" (like a radio station license under FCC permit) under the federal APA and therefore a permit must be issued even if the agency must do NEPA compliant analysis in some ill-defined interim period ? And if the federal APA does apply, are the ADs NEPA compliant when the original EIS is so old ?

Response: I don't think so, but we will not know with certainty until (and unless) adequate precedent is established in the federal courts. However, the BLM is already on record in the instruction memoranda I will transcribe and post in the RangeNet Project as admitting that a NEPA compliance review IS required. BLM might be "forced" to continue authorizing grazing through "annual authorizations" until they have performed that neglected NEPA compliance review, but I believe any attempt to issue a 10-year permit would be highly contestable under the provisions of Section 402 (b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) which states: "Permits or leases may be issued by the Secretary concerned for a period shorter than ten years where the Secretary concerned determines that - (1) the land is pending disposal; or (2) the land will be devoted to a public purpose prior to the end of ten years; or (3) it will be in the best interest of sound land management to specify a shorter term: Provided, That the absence from an allotment management plan of details the Secretary concerned would like to include but which are undeveloped shall not be the basis for establishing a term shorter than ten years." Either (2) or (3) could be applicable. The discussion on monitoring and evaluation policy also applies to this question.

Question 3: "3. Does it matter ?"

Response: HELL YES! What the BLM can do is ANYTHING THEY ARE ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH. And, they have been getting away with a lot when it comes to permit "renewals" for a long time. It has evolved to a point where, other than an entry in a computer database, the BLM essentially recognizes no difference between annual authorizations issued recognizing payment of fees - and issuance of a 10 year permit. In a 1989 evaluation (terminated without completion by management's displeasure with the findings) of a random 10% of Oregon's largest allotments, for example, we found that there were permits signed by the operator on file for only 59% of the operators involved! That means that 41% of the "permits" being recognized were technically only "annual authorizations". Also, BLM makes no distinction on whether a formal "decision" is required when making changes in authorized grazing whether the change occurs during the term of a permit, or at "renewal" time. Note that I place "renewal" in quotes. That is because BLM does not actually "renew" permits, it issues new permits! The grazing regulations ( Title 43 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 4100) have provided for literally decades that "...Permitees or lessees holding expiring grazing permits or leases shall be given first priority for new permits or leases if: (1) The lands for which the permit or lease is issued remain available for domestic livestock grazing: (2) The permittee or lessee is in compliance with the rules and regulations and the terms and conditions in the permit or lease: (3) The permittee or lessee accepts the terms and conditions to be included by the authorized officer in the new permit or lease..." (emphasis supplied). It is clear that permits are intended to expire at the end of their term, that new permits are then offered subject to the discretion of BLM, and that the permittee holding an expiring permit has FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL for the NEW permit. While the authorized officer must not be "arbitrary or capricious" in exercising discretion regarding the new permit and its terms and conditions, the burden of proof must clearly be different with the offer of a new permit as compared with attempting to make changes during the term of an existing permit. The BLM never takes advantage of this!

Regarding "Proposed Decisions": The legal eagles can sort this out for you better than I can, but let me give you a little
background. BLM modified its procedures sometime in the late 1970's, perhaps for better compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act. Prior to that, the procedure was: (1) issue a show cause notice allowing a period for anybody adversely affected by a proposed action to show cause and why that action should not be taken (2) issue a final decision after reviewing any causes submitted, and allow the statutory period for appeal. The current procedure replaces the "show cause notice" with a "proposed decision" which automatically becomes the final decision in the absence of a protest. Regardless of the procedure, there is something that may not be clear. It is not necessary for there to be a formal "proposed decision" for an adversely affected party to file a protest. If BLM makes it clear in some manner that it plans to undertake some action that will adversely affect you, you can file a protest. In the absence of a supportable technicality for dismissing the protest, this can force a formal "decision" which is then appealable. Other actions that constitute a defacto decision may also be appealable even though no formal "proposed decision" was ever issued. Again, I suggest consulting our legal eagles. This can become particularly involved when dealing with BLM as opposed to the Forest Service because the Forest Service does not have the Interior Board of Land Appeals and Hearings before Administrative Law Judges. These produce additional steps you have to go through to exhaust your administrative remedies before going to a real court.

Monitoring and Evaluation: Hold BLM to their own policies, they do have some good ones if they follow them.

(1) For this, start with the local BLM's Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (MEP). BLM Manual Handbook H-4400-1 "Rangeland Monitoring and Evaluation" requires one (see Chapter I.A.). This plan is one place that monitoring and evaluations are to be tied to activity plan and land use plan objectives, and it provides for statewide minimum standards. If they don't have a MEP, then more than shame on them! The MEP has been BLM policy since way back during the Watt administration!

(2) Next, check their Rangeland Program Summary (RPS) updates. BLM Manual Handbook H-4160-1.11C defines the
Rangeland Program Summary update as follows: "RPS updates may be issued as needed, to document progress toward
meeting land-use plan objectives. While the initial RPS is a summary of land-use planning decisions, the RPS Update is primarily a progress report and notice of future actions to be taken. Information in the RPS Update must be sufficiently specific to permit interested parties to determine whether they may be adversely affected by one or more future actions. Those individuals or groups who notify the authorized officer in writing that anticipated decisions for a specific...."

This has been policy since the late 1980's, so all BLM offices should be producing them. This is a good example of where the environmental community let the BLM get away with something. About 1990 and 1991, the Burns Oregon District was producing great RPS updates. The were "sufficiently specific to permit interested parties to determine whether they may be adversely affected by one or more future actions" to the point that it was very clear where in several allotments they (1) had an objective to improve rangeland condition (2) had determined that trend was downward and (3) therefore proposed to increase stocking. There were also examples (fewer) where they (1) had an objective to maintain rangeland condition (2) had determined that trend was upward and (3) therefore proposed to reduce stocking. (No, those are not typos. They were going to reward poor management and punish good management). Unfortunately, nobody in the environmental community (or even the livestock community for that matter) picked up on this. At the same time, an adjoining BLM district was putting only the most general information in their RPS updates - things like they were going to evaluate certain allotments, or had performed an evaluation and were going to issue certain permits. They got away with the generalized eyewash, so now everybody does it! However, it should not be too late to challenge them where they fail to do an RPS update or do not provide enough specifics to judge whether or not you might be adversely affected.

(3) Allotment Monitoring Evaluations. This is where the beef is. BLM Manual Handbook H-4400-1(IV)(D) requires formal Analysis, Interpretation and Evaluation (AIE) to: (1) Assemble and Review Pertinent Documents, (2) Establish Specific Coordination Requirements, (3) Display Monitoring and Other Data, (4) Analyze the Data, (5) Review Management Actions and Other Factors, (6) Interpret the Data, (7) Evaluate the Data, (8) Review Objectives, and (9) Evaluate Progress in Objectives. Section (F) requires "Complete and thorough documentation of the findings from formal AIE...." and provides guidance on actions to take based on progress toward meeting objectives.

(4) Statewide Monitoring Handbooks. Here you get double beef. During the late 1980's, EVERY BLM STATE OFFICE
developed a statewide Monitoring Handbook to supplement H-4400-1. Some are coded to the 4400 series (range) while some are coded to the 1734 series (interdisciplinary), but most have a high degree of similarity. We were all borrowing the best portions of what others had developed. Most of these handbooks include standards for what is to be monitored and establish timeframes for monitoring and evaluation. Oregon's Rangeland Monitoring Handbook (H-1734-2) for example sets a minimum standard for formal interdisciplinary allotment evaluations of every 5 years for allotments in the "Improve" (I) selective management category, every 10 years for category M (maintain) allotments, and "as needed" for category C (custodial) allotments. Several other states adopted the same timeframes which had the rationale that category M allotments should be evaluated at least once during the term of a 10 year lease (preferably near time for renewal), and that category I allotments should also be evaluated for a possible mid-term correction.

These standards have been in effect as policy for nearly two decades, and BLM's budget guidance during that period has
placed emphasis on conducting the monitoring and performing the evaluations - particularly on category I allotments which make up more than two-thirds of BLM rangelands. Except where substantial and recent changes have been made to grazing management, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR ANY BLM OFFICE NOT HAVING AT LEAST ONE FORMAL WRITTEN EVALUATION AVAILABLE FOR EACH AND EVERY CATEGORY "I" ALLOTMENT!!! - and very little reason why there should not also be an evaluation for each category M allotment.

Summary: Where BLM is proposing to "renew" grazing permits or leases for a 10-year period, get your hands on the most recent allotment monitoring evaluation. Compare the findings with the terms of the proposed renewal. If they do not have a monitoring evaluation for a category I or M allotment, HOLD BLM'S FEET TO THE FIRE TO ISSUE NO MORE THAN ANNUAL AUTHORIZATIONS UNTIL AN EVALUATION IS COMPLETED. If things don't jibe, HOLD BLM'S FEET TO THE FIRE TO MAKE THE NEEDED CHANGES BEFORE GRANTING ANY RENEWAL - REGARDLESS OF THE TERM. Do not accept findings that monitoring is inconclusive and more data is needed. If, after two decades, the data is inconclusive - then there is no discernible trend. If the objective is to "maintain", then this is fine. If the objective is to "improve", then trend toward achieving objectives IS NOT ADEQUATE AND DEMAND MEANINGFUL CHANGES IN GRAZING MANAGEMENT. With regard to question 1, NEPA conformance, these evaluations and the monitoring data they reflect constitute "significant new information" and/or reflect "significant change in circumstances". As such, they could trigger a finding of non-conformance based on the other listed criteria for plan conformance if the grazing permit renewal would continue present management. Conversely, an appropriate change in management might bring the proposed action back into conformance.

These are the kinds of monitoring, evaluation, and management adjustments based on Land Use Plan objectives that are
REQUIRED for BLM to comply with its Land Use Plans developed in accordance with Section 202 of FLPMA. BLM IS BOUND BY THOSE LAND USE PLANS (see the Ramirez Decision in RangeBiome's Genesis of Policy <http://www.rangebiome.org/genesis.phtml>. In addition, they are the ESSENTIAL foundation for "adaptive management" which BLM is touting as something new in the draft Southeast Oregon Resource Management Plan/EIS. "Adaptive Management isn't new -  BLM has been directed to do it by policy for two decades!

I'll be posting this message along with additional information as a RangeNet Project as previously mentioned. Anybody else who has additional information that would be appropriate to post there is encouraged to send it to me at <lwalker@rangebiome.org>.


Notes from:
BLM Rangeland Resources Conference
Sunriver, Oregon, 1989

Oregon/Washington held an internal Rangeland Resources Conference in Sunriver Oregon in 1989. That conference included a set of concurrent program meetings with a BLM District Manager, or Associate District Manager, attending each of the concurrent sessions and taking notes. They presented these notes during a wrap-up session on the last day of the conference, and the notes were subsequently distributed to Oregon/Washington BLM field offices as an "internal draft".

The notes include summaries of several presentations and discussions that remain timely and illustrate "what BLM knew, and when they knew it". Those notes are reproduced below:

DRAFT
Copies of notes on the program meetings at the Rangeland Resources Conference held in Sunriver are attached. These are notes taken by individuals to summarize their understanding of internal BLM working sessions and discussion of matters including sensitive issues, speculation, and individual viewpoints. As such, these are not official files or records and are not suitable for release to the public.

NOTES ON CONCURRENT PROGRAM MEETINGS

NOTES ON GRAZING MANAGEMENT SESSION

Interagency Noxious Weed Workshop - Larry Walker

Large upcoming push on noxious weeds. Part of the initiative is from APHIS - interviewed people on potential grasshopper problem as a result of the drought and found that people were more concerned with noxious weeds than grasshoppers.

USDA has issued a draft policy (not sure what USDI's position will be or if there will be a joint initiative).

Funding may be a problem. Weed program in range competes with other high priorities. Out of range it wouldn't have to compete. What is management priority for funding the weed program? Public land weeds impact private lands - are weeds a public funding priority? New legislation may require control of weeds, not just management, and it may redirect existing BLM funding to that effort. (see handout)

Five Year Clock - Larry Walker

The five year clock is a court order. The Bureau position is that we can't meet the five year clock but we will show good faith.

Besides not meeting the schedule, State Office concerned over the management decisions that they have reviewed. (Evaluation is not based on a representative sample)

  • Problem of credibility with NRDC and other interest groups
    • Data shows that range condition (based on indicators) was more down than up.
    • Decisions reviewed - 22 increases, 3 decreases, and 34 no changes.
    • We need to make decisions based on data - decisions are not locked in concrete, we review every five to ten years.
  • Problem that decisions that will stand up if challenged are not easy (as proved in the session on decisions and appeals later in the day)
    • Too much emphasis on livestock numbers, we can correct in change by season of use, better distribution, etc.
    • Some decisions may be made for other objectives, i.e., riparian improvement, mule deer habitat, etc. We are not getting credit for these decisions.
  • Larry - has seen too many decisions to increase grazing when the objective was to improve range condition and the trend was static. Bottom line is that the Judge will look at condition and trend. Stop looking at the exceptions and concentrate on the norm.
  • Also expressed concern over inadequate quality control. We need to be very careful in evaluation and decision process. We may end up in court.
  • Shouldn't adjust for precipitation data. Years of monitoring data provides all of the adjustment we need. Adjusting fro precipitation data can over compensate and give erroneous figures. Concern was expressed over statewide standardization and Bureau guidance.
  • Larry - we are doing something akin to the vegetation management objective in land use planning in Oregon. Our objectives are reasonable and they are not to achieve PNC. Pulled out examples in plans where goal was to have 50% plus in low to mid seral condition.

Do we need a standard Bureau/Oregon policy on how we are going to respond to the five year clock? WHAT IS GOOD FAITH? Is our good faith strategy sound? What will happen if the Bureau is found in contempt of court? Will Judges be making management decisions? Should we be concentrating more resources on meeting the Court order - especially non-range resources?

Decisions and Agreements

"After consultation, coordination, and cooperation, changes in (up or down) preference shall be implemented through documented agreements or by decision."

Agreements that change preference must be separate from the AMP.

Key factors, agreements have to be documented and they must be made through consultation, coordination, and cooperation with all affected parties.

  • Problem - how do you get involvement by affected parties in agreements?
  • In Winemuccca, both the Nevada Cattlemen's Association and NRDC have questioned BLM's legal authority to enter into agreements.
  • Possibility of sending an agreement signed by rancher out for review to other interested parties. What happens if the interested parties appeal?
  • If NRDC challenges an agreement and they have not been involved they will win. Interdisciplinary teams cannot represent other affected parties. NRDC has indicated that they are interested in all allotments.
  • Utah - only consider parties that have expressed a specific interest in that allotment.

Bureau policy and clearly the position of the courts that we should be using agreements. Authorized officer can make a determination on "affected interests" but how do we practically make the cut? Do we need a standard policy? (Gerry will investigate, talk to the solicitor and get back to the Districts).

Judges look at a lot of things - example, preamble to the regulations. If we do not show good intent, especially in consultation, coordination, and cooperation, we will lose!

MAJOR FRUSTRATION OF THE GROUP - HOW DO WE RECONCILE THE NEED TO BE AGGRESSIVE IN THE FIVE YEAR CLOCK WITH THE NEED FOR CONSULTATION, COORDINATION, AND COOPERATION? This is especially key given the NRDC challenge to the grazing agreements in Nevada. The group asked that the Eastern Oregon District Managers get together and develop a priority for utilizing the existing resources to meet these challenges. The group felt that a statewide strategy was needed rather than each District developing different procedures. (post-conference note: see IM-OR-89-434)

Other Issues

  1. Who is an affected interest. We need an uniform State policy on how we deal with this issue. The group would like management input on this issue.
  2. There was considerable frustration on lack of commitment from the other disciplines to develop monitoring standards and participate in allotment evaluations. The group would like to see this addressed in the preliminary annual workplan directives.
  3. There is a new instruction memo that may make grazing files confidential. The group asked the State Office to follow up on this issue and provide additional guidance to the Districts.

See handout for additional issues.

ISSUES/CONCERNS - RIPARIAN/SWA
Bill CAlkins (Monitor)

How can we understand LIS when we don't even know how to use what we have? We don't even have full mapping of our land, e.g., 7 1/2 min. quads. (This is in reference to Vetterick's presentation on LIS). Modernization is a top-down effort and very expensive. Field people are not involved, not informed and not consulted. We are skeptical that it won't work or be irrelevant and take resources and people away from traditional jobs.

If we keep changing our methodology (ecological site methodology vs desired plant communities [1999 note: you can add "Rangeland Health" to this list]), no one will understand us and we won't understand ourselves either.

Let's not forget monitoring and the importance it has to education, public involvement and support. It's the backbone of everything we do including riparian enhancement.

Has BLM abandoned the Taylor Grazing Act? Are we blaming all the wrongs on the rancher when we are responsible as land managers for what has occurred?

Does BLM want to sell out the consumptive uses? Let's not blame the rancher for poor riparian when BLM and even OSU taught them that these were sacrifice areas. Don't sell out the livestock industry. The problem isn't cow management, it's people management and commitment to change.

Management emphasis should shift from planning to on-the-ground action. We have to be willing to take the risk of making a mistake and learning from it. It's time to go out and get the job done with the people to do the job. When will managers provide this support? All positions have decreased over the past 8 - 10 years.

Range conservationists don't have time to work on riparian issues because they are spread so thin and have so much to do that they don't have time for other things. We need more range cons. and range techs to meet our rangeland management objectives including riparian.

Public education is important but not receiving enough emphasis in BLM - bureauwide.

Issue: LUP's and RPS's without riparian objectives are kissed off because managers don't want to amend the RMP just to take action for one or two riparian pastures, or we do a band-aid approach. Managers will not make changes in these cases for riparian improvement other than throw money at it. What can be done about this?

Small offstream water catchments/reservoirs requires a $300 filing fee to the State of Oregon plus we must provide the engineering and construction, clearances, and meet State of Oregon procedures. This is expensive, time consuming and creates hindrances to riparian management. We have to have a licensed water rights examiner to approve/submit every application unless they are stockwater ponds for catchment of ground water only. The State of Oregon should be advised by the State Director that their procedures delay and hinder riparian enhancement. We should request exemption/relief from State of Oregon.

Issue: Water rights applications in W&SR basins will not be processed until the State can resolve conflict with Federal law relating to designation (e.g. Klamath River). So far, this is an adjudication issue relating only to the Klamath River Basin.

Water Quality Act of 1987

Each district has one copy of the Clean Water Act (they were handed out at January 5, 1989 budget meeting). Section 319 is new to the 1987 Act. Non-point source action program, mandate, to require States to develop management plans to control non-point pollution sources. Everybody was funded except Federal agencies to implement Section 319.

A biennial review of our accomplishments in Clean Water Act will be required. Read page 129, Sec. 313. Most important part of the Act for BLM. This is the section that binds BLM to the Clean Water Act.

Section 319, pg. 136-138 - Oregon's plan has not been approved yet. Oregon DEQ recognizes BLM's riparian enhancement plan as key to our commitment to non-point sources control. This will help us to be in compliance when the State of Oregon's plan is issued. Only 18 States to date have taken charge of their clean water quality responsibility. Many have deferred or defaulted to EPA to do it for them.

The State of Oregon (DEQ) has prepared maps on all drainages and basins for non-point sources of pollution on streams, but they are not available yet until the Governor approves the assessment document/management plan. Much of this data came from BLM.

Clean Water Act. Highlights of Draft State of Oregon Assessment Plan:

Best Management Practices (BMPs) - BLM must identify BMP's for all streams/drainages specifically targeted to water quality. We already have BMP's for grazing and forestry but not for recreation, mining, etc. BMP's are a vehicle to meet State Water Quality standards.

  • Implement BMP's to protect beneficial uses of water. We will be required to review and revise our BMP's.
  • BLM & DEQ will develop an action plan to implement the Clean Water Act.
  • An MOU will be prepared that spells out BLM's responsibility with DEQ. It will include periodic reviews.
  • W&SR's are regarded as high quality rivers and we cannot do anything that will contribute to degradation or pollute these streams.
  • Temporary disturbance clauses will be included in new State Water Quality standards for each designated Basin in the State.
  • Stream monitoring will be a major issue that we do not have the capability to meet the requirements. We requested $200,000 additional and 8 more people for eastern Oregon just to monitor water quality.

Will AMP's qualify as plans under the State's requirements? It must include BMP's to qualify at a minimum.

Rangeland Monitoring Handbook

The requirement is for each R.A. to monitor 2 streams and 12-15 samples per year for water quality. Is this adequate? Are we monitoring BMP's or just collecting data (temperature, turbidity, etc)? The monitoring Bill Brookes wants to see relates to the BMPs - did we accomplish what we said we would do in the BMP's? This is compliance monitoring (e.g., 1st compliance) followed by effectiveness monitoring. Was the BMP effective in meeting the goal?

Water Quality has been given short change in the Rangeland Monitoring Handbook in complete disregard of the Clean Water Act. For water quality we need to have more than 2 samples per year which was proposed by Staker. The technicians want a statistical reliability which will require many stations and many samples to be able to defend decisions in court. The managers want to be certain that we have met our monitoring standards and have considered best available data in the decision. Perennial question: How much is enough?

It's important to use "representative" sites or the "most sensitive" sites to monitor so that there is a correlation to other streams in the Resource Area. If we limit ourselves to a few streams and a few samples then let's make them streams that can be accessed year-round and are representative of BLM streams in the R.A. We are trying to get the best information we can for the least cost. The main problem is that no 2 streams are alike and we will be making correlations that might not hold up to scrutiny or legal challenge. On the other hand, we can't do everything and we agreed in the MOU with the State to sample representative streams and the Rangeland Monitoring Handbook commits to monitor 2 streams in each R.A. The unsatisfactory conclusion which management has reached is to give us monitoring standards that we can do, afford, and that will get us by. Because we can't afford ($'s or people) to do more, the standards have been built upon our capability and not to meet the Clean Water Act, etc.

An option to pursue would be to get the State of Oregon to accept macro-invertebrate studies in lieu of the traditional water quality monitoring data. If they will accept this then we could amend our monitoring standards and these data would tell us more than samples from 2 streams per R.A. as presently required. To do both would be better still.

A Guide to the Water Quality Act
Section Page(s) Subject
101(a)(7) 1 Goals and Policy
102(a) 3 Comprehensive programs
104(a)(1) 5-6 Coordination of Information, etc.
205(j)(5) 49 Funding State 319 efforts
303 80-85 Water Quality Standards
305(b) 93-94 Biennial Reporting
313 129-130 Federal agency requirement
314 130-131 Clean Lakes
319 136-148 Non-point Source Mgt. Programs
402 151-159 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
404 160-168 Dredge and Fill Permits

Wildlife, Fish and Botanical Program Coordination Meeting

District Needs and Concerns

Geographic Emphasis Areas (GEA):

  • Loss of Flexibility
  • Side stepping issues
  • Throwing $ at problems
  • Creating major crunches with staff, I.E., clearances, S/P.
  • Opportunities missed
    • Coop./Grant projects
  • Staffs committed to effort - no time for other "Good Deals"
  • OSO to get GEA criteria & process to DO staff before next PAWP
  • Need more flexibility
  • Clean up process
  • Here to stay
  • Earlier planning
  • Review criteria and look at increased flexibility

Monitoring Shortfalls

  • Hydrology
  • Riparian
  • Uplands
  • T/E plants

Praise for SD and others for interest in wetlands.

FTEO ceiling is stifling field opportunities and on-the-ground accomp.

ADC - No statewide guidance/management.

  • Need some consistency on eastside. Assignment: OSO

Gold Fever; need serious look see at 1872 mining laws.

What about LIS - at district level?

  • Unless management commitment, it won't work.
  • Need to know what we got that should go in.
  • What do wildlife users "really" need in LIS?
  • LIS - the question of "how do you do your job?" should be asked by ADP technicrats of our resource people to get at the basic needs.
  • Look for the variety of ADP software packages to make job easier.

Cost sharing programs. (i.e., Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation, Bighorn Sheep Foundation)

  • Need more lead time.
  • Need better understanding of process and requirements.
  • Look at options to cover our cost share agreements, if additional $ don't come.

Kudos on "Watchable Wildlife" pamphlet.

Fins, Feathers, Fur and Flowers

Mike Crouse:

Washington Highlights

  1. ESA Amendment
    • Emphasis on plants.State violation in essence violates Fed. Act.

      Question: What is application of State Act as it pertains to private lands?
      Amendment sets priority for funding.
      More emphasis on the actual threat to the species.
  2. Biological Diversity
    • National legislation proposed which would require consideration of bio-diversity by Fed. Management agencies.
    • BLM is embarking upon developing a biodiversity initiative.
    • Paper by Allen Cooperrider on "Conservation of Biological Diversity on Public Lands" - copies made available during meeting.
  3. Wildlife Monitoring
    • Bureauwide - 50% of objectives in plans are being monitored - only 50% of those are adequately being monitored. Reporting system doesn't allow for adequate tracking.
  4. Wildlife 2000: Document been distributed.
    • Each state is to develop statewide plan, including budget coordination.

Cheryl:

Botanical Update

  • Bureauwide assessment being made by WO.

Cost Sharing - Botanical

  • One purchase order with "ODA" being prepared, and SO will coordinate procurement for all FY 1989 projects within the state.
  • High priority with this administration.

Question: What's status of district nominated sensitive species?

  • (Stan resp.) There is no approved sensitive species list in Oregon. There is confusion on how challenge cost sharing program works. May need clarification of program process. (OSO shall further clarify the program and process).

Art Oakley:

GEA/Riparian

  • Priority process was developed by OR/WA Management Team.
  • Stifles flexibility.
  • A lot of good projects going by the wayside.

Revised Manuals

  • Bureau Special Status Species Manual (6840)
  • Fish and Wildlife Management Manual (6500)
    • Wildlife 2000 - Objectives have been incorporated in this BLM Manual.
  • Coop. Relations with states and other Federal agencies Manuals
  • Animal Damage Control Manual (draft)
  • Draft Introductions/Transplant Manual is controversial. Work is continuing.

Fish & Wildlife 2000

  • Work on state plan resuming, and districts will be expected to provide input to parts of plan in a month or so!

Coop. Relations

District Messengers
DO Rep.
Burns Josh Warburton
Vale Jean Findley
Lakeview Ginger King
Prineville Bud Keller
Spokane Lou Jurs

Dick Vander Schaaf - The Nature Conservancy, Public Lands Coordinator

  • New MOU statewide with TNC/BLM
    FY 1989 cooperative project is "Priority Acquisition List for Oregon BLM" - handout provided.
    TNC is spearheading project to organize efforts to identify and prioritize lands for acquisition or exchange. They will be working closely with districts and emphasis will be placed on natural diversity and ecological values.
    • Each site on priority 1 list will have a brief report which TNC will use for their purposes (to promote the tract).
  • National Trust Fund may be established this year by Congress ($10 billion) of which approx. $1 billion each year would be available.

Eric Schultz - Trout Unlimited Corp. (TU)

Handouts: Two draft MOU's between BLM and Trout Unlimited.

  1. Master MOU providing cooperative framework;
  2. Project specific MOU, covering specific coop. projects.
    TU anticipates getting more involved with BLM activities including inventory and monitoring efforts (data collection as well as on-the-ground improvement projects.

Memo transmitting MOU and instructions should be out soon from SO.

Bob Meinke - Ore. Dept. of Agriculture, Plant Coordinator

(Presented slide show)

Oregon State ESA split management responsibilities between two state agencies. ODFW: responsible for animals; Dept. Ag. responsible for plants.

Two Major Initiatives

  • Baseline - Inventories, and
  • Reproductive Biology

Art Oakley - Public Land Restoration Task Force, 1989 Riparian Voluntary projects will be coordinated by PLRTF as done in 1988.

  • New MOU's: Rocky Mtn. Elk Foundation
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Quail Unlimited, Inc.
  • Foundation for North American Sheep
  • Fish America Foundation

Carole Jorgensen - Eugene District, Wildlife Biologist

  • Objectives for WLUG
    • WFIS: Wildlife, Fish Information System will provide consistent data definitions
    • Bureauwide effort to get biologists computer literate. Each bio. will have continuous access to computer compatible with LIS system.
    • Biodiversity initiative and legislation will change the way we do business significantly.

Issue: There is no consistency between individual resource program data bases.
What' the Deal?
Objective is to have all biologists computer literate by 1990.

Art Oakley - OSO biologist

  • Bio-diversity: Concept has been around for several years (10+). Habitat diversity has been a wildlife program objective in BLM for last 10 years.
    • Bob Kendschy: Recaps some personal observations about seedings and how they have developed biodiversity over time. Old seedings offer more diversity than non-recovered native areas.
    • Carole Jorgensen will send out proposed legislation on bio-diversity to all offices. It appears to be the new wave.
  • Monitoring:
    • Question on adequacy of field guides on monitoring standards.
      Responses: Majority are pretty good.
      • Hydrology unrealistic
      • Causing staff to look at existing studies and how they relate
      • Increasing the interdisciplinary coordination
    • Question: What about data being collected?
      • data does not always come when and where you want it
      • round table discussions on allotment evaluations has helped interdisciplinary efforts and problem solving
      • riparian monitoring may be lacking
      • uplands sampling effort inadequate
      • westside monitoring problems
        • water quality
        • snags, wildlife trees
        • riparian
        • big game
      • sensitive plant monitoring efforts aren't even close, in many cases are nonexistent
      • interdisciplinary field efforts are paying off. Communications are improving

Summary of T/E Plant Monitoring Session
by cheryl McCaffrey, OSO Botanist

Background on the need for monitoring meeting for TE plants

  • Topic is poorly defined for field application
  • Districts operate independently with little opportunity to share information; T&E monitoring is different from monitoring of other resources
  • Monitoring meeting desired for this year to have westside participation and interagency input.

Why need monitoring meeting?

  • coordinate efforts among DOs
  • consensus on monitoring objectives and how to measure progress or attainment of objectives
  • share and refine techniques
  • share ideas to provide answers to managers on TE management and relationship to particular T&E species to other resource activities

In the monitoring session we:

  • determined general objectives of TE monitoring
  • prioritized species categories for monitoring consideration
  • determined criteria by which to select populations to monitor
  • outlined factors to consider in designing a monitoring strategy
  • listed most important variables (essentially minimal useful variables) needed to measure trend for high priority species
  • reviewed monitoring techniques in use in 4 easter Oregon DOs, Spokane and Salem DOs

Material will be typed, consolidated, reviewed by key participants and distributed to all DOs. This is a start in getting our thoughts and needs together.

Appreciation to Bob Meinke of Oregon Dept. of Agriculture for substantial contributions and to managers present for providing realism, clarification of our thoughts, support, and encouragement.

Notes on GEA Session

A. Background

BLM's management team for Oregon and Washington approved the concept of putting the work and dollars in one area to show accomplishments on a watershed base. This overcomes the problem of scattering dollars and effort all over and not seeing improvement in the resources. Good concept for showcase and funding but need to work out the problems.

B. Problems at this point in time

  • PAWP was very awkward and confusing coupled with a short time frame
  • A one-year concentrated effort for one area is not good
  • have had adverse impacts to outside money such as challenge grants and other contributed money
  • Clearances will have to be contracted out this year due to time frame problem and restrictions on FTE-O. Some districts want SO help to line up persons to accomplish the work.
  • Creates a serious problem within the district between the "haves" and "have-nots".
  • Adversely affected work on some projects necessary to meet the 5-year clock in "have-not" areas
  • GEA's got all the money and pre-dirt work such as clearances and EA's were not in sequence
  • Up to this year, the strategy was to base the work on the allotment plan. This allowed an orderly and planned flow of work for clearances, etc.
  • Gap in communications between management team and staff. Staff had no background nor concept of what the management team desired
  • Too much emphasis on dollar allocation. Fits "throw money at it" syndrome

C. Suggestions for making the concept work smoothly in the future.

  • Manager needs flexibility to direct funds to other areas with high priority problems
  • Planning (clearances, EA's, etc.) needs to be ahead of project implementation (3 years?)
  • Need to merge planning with GEA concept
  • Do not allocate the money to areas that have not had the time for adequate planning
  • Let the manager manage the base funding as he/she wishes and dedicate new or contributed money to GEA's. This includes challenge grant dollars
  • Have districts send GEA requests to SO prior to PAWP so the directives to the districts reflect the preliminary working budget more accurately
  • Need to have the appropriate program leads included in the management teams discussions, such as GEA's, so they can avoid the communications gap that now exists between concept and action
  • Management team needs to have enough discussion on new direction, such as GEA's, to include projections on how it will impact the overall program if implemented
  • Incorporate a reporting system for progress on GEA's for end of year report. May need a separate heading or item. Do not require a separate reporting system
  • DM's need to discuss how they want to achieve flexibility for GEA's at next management team meeting. Provide SO staff with direction on implementation.

    Some suggestions:
    • Need a lead time and budget to support pre-dirt work planning
    • Redirect dollars outside of GEA if work on GEA is accomplished early in the budget year.
    • Concept - DM directed to put 75% of money into designated GEA and have 25% flexible that may or may not be expended in that GEA
    • Give DM "X" dollars for a GEA and let DM spend as needed. Warning - this could reinstate the shotgun approach
    • Use program packages to identify needed out-year funding and WM's so pre-dirt work planning proceeds in an orderly, timely manner in harmony with the budget system
  • Do we need a GEA coordinator in the SO and each district?
  • Looks as if the process can be smoothed out and have longevity


Bureau of Land Management
Oregon State Office
File code: 4100 (932)
May 18, 1989

Instruction Memorandum No. OR-89-434
Expires 9/30/90

To: All Eastside District Managers and Medford
From: State Director

Subject: Providing Interested Parties With The Opportunity To Participate In The Implementation Of Grazing Management Action

On Friday, April 21, 1989, four eastern Oregon District Managers, the Deputy State Director for Resources and appropriate staff met at the Burns District Office to develop guidance for public involvement in the grazing management program. The following is the result of that effort.

The Rangeland Program Summary (RPS) update will be the tool used in Oregon and Washington to provide notice to the public of the opportunity for participation by affected interests in all future livestock grazing management decisions and agreements. BLM Handbook H-4160-1.11C defines the Rangeland Program Summary update as follows:

"RPS updates may be issued as needed, to document progress toward meeting land-use plan objectives. While the initial RPS is a summary of land-use planning decisions, the RPS Update is primarily a progress report and notice of future actions to be taken. Information in the RPS Update must be sufficiently specific to permit interested parties to determine whether they may be adversely affected by one or more future actions. Those individuals or groups who notify the authorized officer in writing that anticipated decisions for a specific allotment may adversely affect their interests must be sent the proposed and final decisions by certified mail at the same time the decisions are sent to the grazing permittees or lessees."

The following is the definition of affected interests as set forth in the Grazing Regulation (43 CFR 4100.0-5).

"Affected interest means an individual or organization that has expressed in writing to the authorized officer concern for the management of livestock grazing on specific grazing allotments and who has been determined by the authorized officer to be an affected interest."

To implement this process, each district should evaluate their situation relative to meeting the requirements of the 5-year clock, management actions completed since the last RPS update, and allotment monitoring evaluation completion schedules in order to time the publication of the next RPS update to best meet BLM commitments and need. This update will list the result of all monitoring evaluations and management actions that have been completed since the last RPS update and any future actions which are being considered. It will provide an opportunity for affected interests to review and comment upon these future actions. The following wording should be used in the RPS update.

"If you believe that any of the future actions indicated in the RPS update may affect your interests, please contact the district manager in writing by [Date - 30-60 days after mailing]. Please advise as to the specific future actions which are of concern to you, the allotment or allotments involved and your reason for believing that you have an interest which could be affected by the proposed future actions. The district manager will provide those determined to be an affected interest with an opportunity to participate in the development of livestock grazing management plans in the identified allotments."

/s/ Paul M. Vetterick
Associate State Director


Bureau of Land Management
Washington, D.C.
File code: 1790 (220/760)
EMS Transmission 7/26/90
July 19, 1990

Instruction Memorandum No. 90-552

To: All State Directors
From: Director

Subject: Plan Conformance and Environmental Review Requirements in the Range Management Program

The Bureau of Land Management has ongoing statutory responsibility to ensure that use authorizations are in conformance with approved land use plans and that existing environmental documentation is supplemented as conditions change. Section 302(a) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) states "The Secretary shall manage the public lands under the principles of multiple use and sustained yield, in accordance with the land use plans developed." The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in Section 102(c) requires that Federal agencies consider the potential environmental impacts of their actions.

The Grazing Administration regulations (43 CFR Parts 4100) clearly state that livestock grazing management actions and activities are subject to NEPA and must conform to the approved land use plans.

In order to assist you in fulfilling your FLPMA and NEPA responsibilities we have answered a number of frequently asked questions regarding plan conformance and NEPA review requirements.

If you have questions concerning this memorandum or if there are other planning and NEPA issues pertaining to the range management program that you would like to see addressed please contact Willie Peterson, Division of Rangeland Resources at FTS 653-9193 or Gordon Knight, Division of Planning and Environmental Coordination at FTS 653-8824.

Signed
Billy R. Templeton
Acting Assistant Director of Land and Renewable Resources

1 Attachment
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS CONCERNING PLAN CONFORMANCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW REQUIREMENTS IN THE RANGE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. (6 pages)

PLAN CONFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS

  1. What decisions in the range management program must be in conformance with an approved resource management plan (RMP) or management framework plan, if not yet replaced by an RMP?

    All range management actions approved by an authorizing officer must conform with the decisions, terms and conditions of the approved plan (See 43 CFR 4100.0-8.) Such actions include but are not limited to:
    a. Continuing, modifying or revoking use authorizations;
    b. Approving allotment management plans; and
    c. Constructing range improvements.
  2. When should range management actions be reviewed for plan conformance?

    Existing range conditions and management activities are reviewed as part of the process of preparing an RMP. Upon approval of an RMP existing use authorizations are reviewed and if necessary modified to be brought into conformance with the plan. (See H-4130-1.26.) All subsequent proposed range management actions must be reviewed prior to their approval. (See 43 CFR 1610.5-3.)
  3. Where can an authorizing officer find the information required to determine if proposed range management actions are in conformance?

    Assuming the grazing case file was updated when the plan was approved the required information should be in the file. (See H-4010-1, IIB(1)a.) If the information is not in there, it can be found in the RMP.
  4. How is plan conformance determined?

    Responsibility for making and documenting conformance determinations rests with the authorizing officer. The authorizing officer should review the plan and determine whether proposed range management actions are consistent with the resource objectives and management prescriptions set forth in the plan (See BLM MS 1617.3.) A management action does NOT conform if it:
    a. Results in a change in management constraints or practices, including terms and conditions of authorized use in the plan.
    b. Changes resource conditions, goals, or objectives, as approved in the plan.
    c. Changes resource uses, or levels and areas of production, protection, or use approved in the plan.
  5. Can a proposed range management action be in conformance with the provisions of a plan if other related actions (e.g., preparation of an AMP or implementation of a vegetation treatment project) called for in the plan have not been fully implemented?

    It depends on the planned activities that have not been implemented, on the proposed range management action in question and on their interrelationship. At a minimum, actions that were planned but have not been implemented should be noted in the comment section of the appropriate plan conformance form from Chapter 3 or Chapter 4 of the BLM NEPA Handbook. (See H-1790-1.)
  6. What options does an authorizing officer have if a proposed range management action is not in conformance?

    The authorizing officer has three choices if an action is not in conformance:
    a. Reject the proposed action.
    b. Modify the proposed action so it conforms with the approved plan; or
    c. Further consider it through a plan amendment.
  7. What range management actions typically trigger a plan amendment?

    Generally speaking the following proposals should be considered through a plan amendment:
    a. Proposing major modifications to existing use authorizations;
    b. Proposing to continue existing levels of use when significant changes in forage availability or range condition have occurred; and
    Authorizing permits and leases for areas not previously grazed by livestock.
  8. Is it necessary to document plan conformance reviews?

    Yes. At a minimum, the appropriate plan conformance form from the BLM NEPA Handbook should be completed and placed in the grazing case file and allotment/management unit file. (See the illustrations to Chapter 3 and 4 in H-1790-1.) Without such records it is difficult to effectively demonstrate the planning that were associated with the approval of range management actions.

NEPA REVIEW REQUIREMENTS

  1. Are any range management actions exempt from NEPA?

    No. All range management actions including approval of non-use and of temporary non-renewable use are subject to NEPA, the Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing NEPA, the Departmental NEPA Manual, the BLM NEPA Manual and the BLM NEPA Handbook. See respectively, 42 U.S.C. 4321, 43 CFR Part 1500, 516 DM 1-7, BLM MS 1790 and H-1790-1.)
  2. Are there different ways of complying with NEPA?

    Yes, the manner in which compliance is achieved varies depending on the specifics of the range management action in question and on the extent and adequacy of existing NEPA documentation. Proposed range management actions fall into one of four categories:

    a. Actions which are categorically excluded from NEPA documentation;
    b. Actions which are covered by an existing NEPA environmental document;
    c. Actions which require an environmental assessment (EA) to determine if an environmental impact statement (EIS) is needed; or
    d. Actions which require preparation of an environmental impact statement.

    A flow chart is available in the BLM NEPA Handbook to help determine into which of these four categories a proposed range management action belongs. (See H-1790-1, Chapter 1 Illustration 1.)
  3. What range management actions are designated categorical exclusions?

    Appendix 5 to Chapter 6, Part 516 of the Departmental Manual lists the BLM actions that are designated categorical exclusions unless action qualifies as an exception under 516 DM 2.3A(3). This list of categorical exclusions is currently under revision. (See 54 FR 47832) The proposed list includes the following actions:
    a. Approval of transfers of livestock grazing preference.
    b. Placement and use of temporary (not to exceed one month) portable corrals and water troughs where no new access is needed.
    c. Temporary emergency feeding of livestock or wild horses and burros from private lands at the request of the landowner.
    d. Installation of routine signs, markers, culverts, ditches, waterbars, gates, or cattleguards on/or adjacent to existing roads.
    e. Acquisition of existing water developments (e.g. wells and springs) on public land.
    f. Construction of small protective enclosures including those to protect reservoirs and springs and those to protect small study areas.
  4. Can an authorizing officer use existing livestock grazing EIS's, RMP/EIS's and Allotment Management Plan EA's to satisfy NEPA compliance?

    Yes. As discussed in Chapter 3 of the BLM NEPA Handbook the authorizing officer should review existing NEPA documents to determine if existing document satisfies NEPA analysis requirements. (See H-1790.-1.) If site specific impacts have already been addressed additional documentation may be minimal. Tiering and incorporating by reference is recommended where appropriate.
  5. What are the basic steps in reviewing existing EA's and EIS's?
    a. Define the proposed range management action, e.g. to renew a grazing permit
    b. Identify existing EA's and EIS's that relate to the proposed range management action.
    c. Determine if the existing environmental document or documents satisfy NEPA analysis requirements for the proposed range management action.
    d. Document the review if the authorizing officer determines the existing document fully covers the proposed range management action and that no additional analysis is necessary.
  6. What questions should be answered to determine if an existing document satisfies NEPA analysis requirements for a proposed grazing action?

    As discussed in Chapter 3 of the BLM NEPA Handbook the following questions should be addressed:

    a. Is the proposed range management action a feature of, or essentially the same as an alternative in the existing NEPA document?
    b. Is the methodology or analytical approach used in the document being reviewed appropriate for the new proposed action?
    c. Are the direct and indirect impacts of the action essentially the same as those identified in the EA or EIS?
    d. Is the proposed range management action within the range of reasonably foreseeable developments contemplated in the EA or EIS?
    e. Did public involvement in the EA or EIS provide appropriate coverage for the new proposed action?
    f. Have all conflicts been resolved that involve alternative resource uses for the proposed grazing action?
    g. Are the circumstances or information upon which the document being reviewed is based still valid and germane to the new proposed action?

    If answers to the above questions are clearly affirmative the proposed range management action should be judged to be adequately covered by the NEPA document.
  7. If proposed actions are not adequately covered by an existing documents is additional NEPA analysis and documentation required?

    Yes, depending on the identified inadequacies such analysis and documentation may take the form of an EA/FONSI or EIS/ROD. Tiering to or supplementing existing documents is recommended where appropriate. Generally speaking a NEPA document is required when considering site specific or project specific alternatives such as preparing an AMP or designing a range improvement.
  8. Is it necessary to document a review of existing environmental analyses?

    The NEPA compliance form in the BLM NEPA Handbook should be completed and placed in the grazing case file and allotment/management unit file. (See Illustration 1 Chapter 3 in H-1790-1.) Without such records it is difficult to effectively demonstrate the NEPA reviews that were associated with the approval of range management actions.
  9. Does issuance of a Rangeland Program Summary (RPS) require preparation of an EA or EIS?

    No. An RPS is not a decision document. It is a report to the public on BLM's progress in implementing planned actions to improve range conditions. It is therefore categorically excluded under the Departmental list of categorical exclusions. (See 516 DM 2 Appendix 1.)


Bureau of Land Management
Washington, D.C.
File code: 4100 (221), 1700 (760)
EMS Transmission 7/1/91
June 27, 1991

Instruction Memorandum No. 91-332
Expires 9/30/92

To: AFO's
From: Director

Subject: Relationship Between Rangeland Monitoring and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance and Land Use Plan Conformance

Recent events suggest that there is some misunderstanding concerning the relationship between the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) rangeland monitoring activities and Nepa compliance and Federal Land Policy and Management Act conformance requirements. Public interest in this matter is high, and it is important that resource management actions be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable authority. This memorandum clarifies existing policy and references existing BLM guidance.

Existing laws and regulations require that resource management plans (RMP's) establish, among other things, allowable resource uses and related levels of production or uses to be maintained and resource condition goals and objectives to be attained. The RMP's also generally establish intervals and standards for monitoring and evaluation. The results of monitoring and evaluation help managers determine whether management changes, including a plan amendment or revision, are necessary. Trend, actual use, and weather information (especially precipitation data) are often measured as part of the monitoring done in association with RMP implementation.

The monitoring standards and schedules established in RMP's provide the basic framework for rangeland monitoring and evaluation plans. The RMP objectives guide the identification and selection of features to be measured or studied in subsequent rangeland monitoring work. If any activity plans have been prepared (e.g., allotment management plans), the more detailed objectives within those plans are also used to identify the data to be collected, study locations, monitoring priorities, etc. The rangeland monitoring program and schedule developed also describe how data will be analyzed, interpreted, and evaluated. Public involvement and consultation, cooperation, and coordination with rangeland users, adjacent landowners, academic institutions, and State and other Federal agencies are required.

The analysis, interpretation, and evaluation process consists of reviewing and analyzing the data collected and documenting conclusions regarding achievement of specific resource objectives. These conclusions may provide the basis for formulating changes in management and use authorizations to achieve existing objectives or for developing new or revised objectives, as appropriate. Any changes in management, including use authorizations, are subsequently addressed in a NEPA review as "proposed actions." Adjustments in management may be initiated in the form of a proposed decision or documented agreement, installation of a range improvement, etc.

Compliance with NEPA requirements for management actions that are determined to be adequately addressed in an existing environmental document consists of documenting the case file. The BLM Handbook (H)-1790-1 contains an Optional Plan Conformance/NEPA Compliance Record which may be used for this purpose. That form may also be used when the proposed action is covered by a categorical exclusion.

When monitoring shows progress is not adequate or, for other reasons, a change in management is needed and the proposed action is not already covered by an existing NEPA document, NEPA compliance and documentation involve preparing an environmental assessment (EA) or, if necessary, an environmental impact statement. A proposed management change that is not in conformance with RMP provisions would require further consideration through a plan amendment or plan revision. Several optional EA formats are shown in BLM H-1790-1, Chapter 3.

Public involvement through hearings or meetings, if required or necessary, and notices of availability of NEPA compliance and RMP conformance apply to all rangeland program activities. Please assure that the appropriate range management program personnel review Instruction Memorandum No. 90-552 and H-1790-1. We will evaluate compliance with this guidance as part of the rangeland management program evaluations. If you have questions, please contact Buddy Arvizo (WO-221) at FTS 653-9195.

Signed
M.D. Berg
Acting Assistant Director, Land and Renewable Resources


Appealing Wyoming BLM Grazing Permit Renewals
from: Phil Riddle 3/4/99

Being a relative newcomer to the private sector, I need to have a little help in finding the proper information to effect an appeal of a grazing permit EA. I'm told it's called the "33 cent injunction" by attorneys. I have "How Not to be Cowed" but need to have updated information on appeal procedures. If it can be accomodated, I'm sending a copy of a typical EA being put out by Wyoming's BLM.
           ************************************************
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

EA NUMBER: WY - 046 - EA99 -

BLM OFFICE: Pinedale Field Office

CASE NUMBER: Grazing Record 494336

PROPOSED ACTION TITLE/TYPE: Alsade, Ltd. Grazing Permit Renewal.

LOCATION OF PROPOSED ACTION: Lower Bench Corral Common Allotment No. 02084

APPLICANT: Alsade. Ltd.

CONFORMANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAND USE PLAN: This proposed action is subject to the following land use plan:

NAME OF PLAN: Pinedale Resource Management Plan.

DATE APPROVED: 12/12/88. This plan has been reviewed to determine if the proposed action conforms with the land use plan terms and conditions as required by 43 CFR 1610.5.

NEED FOR PROPOSED ACTION: Allow Alsade, Ltd. to continue to graze 1,578 cattle (2,491 AUMs) from May 25 to July 10 on 23,172 public land acres in the Lower Bench Corral Common Allotment No. 02084.

REMARKS: The Lower Bench Corral Common allotment was placed in the Improve (I) category during the 1988 RMP
process due to poor livestock distribution. It has since been placed in the High Priority I category.

DESSCRIPTION OF PROPOSED ACTION: Renew Alsade, LTD's grazing permit for Lower Bench Corral Common
allotment at the present numbers and dates of 1,578 cattle (2, 91 AUMs) from May 25 to July 10.

ALTERNATIVES: [NO ACTION] -- Under this alternative the grazing permit for Alsade, Ltd. would not be renewed and they would no longer be allowed to graze livestock in this allotment. Since there is another permittee in this allotment, selection of this alternative would not entirely remove grazing from the allotment. Since this alternative would arbitrarily cancel the Alsade, Ltd. permit and allow the other permittee to continue to use their permit in the allotment, it is not likely to survive a legal challenge. Therefore, a strict "no action" alternative will not be analyzed further.

[ISSUE A MODIFIED PERMIT] -- Based on billing records, Alsade, Ltd. ran an average of 625 cattle in the allotment during the 1987 - 1996 grazing seasons; in 1997 they ran 695 cattle, and in 1998 ran 800 cattle. The other livestock operator ran full numbers during this same period. Monitoring data indicates the allotment could run more cattle if additional water sources were made available. Alsade, Ltd. would most likely appeal any decision to select this alternative based on the fact that they have voluntarily not run higher numbers due to the lack of water. For several years, Alsade, Ltd. has asked BLM to drill a well in the northwest part of the allotment to hold cattle off Muddy Creek and improve livestock distribution into this area. BLM has not aggressively pursued this request due to the potential conflict with elk winter range. Based on the monitoring data, the request for an additional water source and the fact that this decision would only reduce the Alsade, Ltd. grazing permit, this alternative will not be analyzed further.  [CANCELLATION OF ALL GRAZING PERMITS]: -- Under this alternative, this permit, as well as the other grazing permit for this allotment, would be cancelled. No livestock would be authorized to graze this allotment. This alternative is not in conformance with the Pinedale RMP and would require an RMP amendment. It is likely that a decision selecting this alternative would be appealed. Implementation of this alternative may not be entirely within the BLM's control.

(Of the ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS that might be affected, only WETLANDS/RIPARIAN ZONES was checked.)

DESCRIPTION OF IMPACTS:
[PROPOSED ACTION] -- Soil Condition - Livestock concentrating around water sources can compact the soil and/or cause an absence of vegetation cover to reduce runoff. However, erosion was not identified as a problem in the allotment during the 1998 Standards and Guidelines review. Observations indicate that the majority of the gullies are stabilizing as evidenced by the presence of perennial vegetation in the channel. Soils are stable for the allotment's potential and allow for water infiltration to provide for minimal surface runoff.

Riparian Ecology - The riparian habitat on this allotment consists of a few seeps, springs, about 50 acres along Muddy Creek and 30 acres along Meadow Canyon Creek. The natural waters serve as water sources for livestock and wildlife. Both creeks are also irrigated out of. Additional (man-made) water sources provide some grazing pressure relief around the natural systems. Muddy Creek was determined to be in Proper Functioning Condition; however, the riparian areas along Meadow Canyon Creek were determined to be functional at risk due to Hummocking. Hummocking is lowering the water table and allowing more xeric species to encroach into the riparian area.

Upland Ecology - Livestock grazing favors shrub (sagebrush) production over grass and forb production. Certain highly
preferred grasses would be at a competitive disadvantage within the allotment and their percentage in the overall vegetation composition may decrease. Individual plants would be less productive where they subject to repeated grazing. During the Standards and Guidelines review it was noted that in some areas (particularly those near water sources) the preferred grasses were only found under shrubs where livestock could not graze; however, this was not the case over a majority of the allotment. The current vegetation consists of community types that are resilient, diverse and able to recover from disturbance.

Habitats -The rangelands on this allotment are capable of sustaining viable populations and diversity of native plants and animals appropriate to the habitat. The allotment contains yearlong and winter range and parturition areas for pronghorn antelope, elk crucial winter and winter range, and moose yearlong and winter range. Since cattle are primarily grazers and pronghorn antelope and moose are primarily browsers, there would be little dietary overlap other than for the early green-up grasses (e.g. Sandberg bluegrass) and willows. There could possibly be some competition between elk and cattle as both are primarily grazers;however, the elk in this area are fed at the Bench Corral Feedground and areas denoted as elk winter range are currently lightly grazed by cattle.

There are 5 sage grouse leks in the allotment. Sage grouse also use the allotment for nesting and brood rearing. Under the
proposed action, herbaceous forage removed by livestock would reduce nesting and brood rearing habitat for sage grouse

Water Quality - Waters from this allotment drain into the Green River via Muddy and Meadow Canyon creeks. To date there is no data to suggest that water quality in either of these streams is impaired, or that any impairment can be associated with livestock grazing.

Air Quality - No data exists to suggest that grazing has impaired the regional air quality, or that renewal Of the grazing permit will result in impaired air quality.

Selection of the proposed action would benefit Alsade, Ltd.

[CANCELLATION OF ALL GRAZING PERMITS] -- Soils - Under this alternative, the existing erosion would continue until such time as it becomes in balance with the landscape; however, due to the expected increase in plant cover and grass litter accumulation (and subsequent decrease in bare ground), the erosion process would be slowed. Riparian Ecology - Under this alternative, native riparian species would increase in vigor and reproductive capabilities. This would eventually allow them to outcompete xeric species to improve riparian and wetland conditions. This would result in stabilized streambanks as the native species have root masses capable of better withstanding erosive forces. Eventually the streambanks would begin to rebuild as sediment was trapped and deposited. As the water table rose, the xeric species would further be removed from the system. Hummocks would begin to heal and spring and seep flows could be sustained for longer periods of time. Riparian plants would be expected to appear and/or increase around water sources such as reservoirs and springs which could provide additional habitat for waterfowl or other riparian dependent species. It is also probable that without some type of vegetation manipulation (prescribed fire), the vegetation could grow thick enough to "choke itself out." If this were to happen it is likely the stream(s) would blow out and begin the revegetating process over.

Upland Ecology - Without a disturbance (e.g. prescribed fire, herbicide), the sagebrush component would remain largely
unchanged as it is an aggressive, long-lived species. Existing grass plants could become more vigorous, producing more
herbaceous material, litter accumulation, and increasing seed production. This may result in an increase in seedling establishment and an increase in the frequency of forbs and grass species. Eventually the plant communities would stabilize and, according to some literature, could even Begin a downward condition within a few more years. The decrease in soil trampling could also mean a decrease in seed germination sites, thus, decreasing potential for new plant establishment. Under this alternative, prescribed fire or herbicides could be used to treat sagebrush/grasslands without the need to negotiate livestock grazing rest.

Habitats - Under this alternative, more forage would be available to wildlife species. Sufficient nesting habitat should also be available for sage grouse. Under this alternative, pronghorn antelope would benefit from reduced competition for the early greenup grasses and shrubs. However, so me literature indicates that proper levels of cattle grazing can be beneficial to pronghorn antelope in that it stimulates browse and forb production. Therefore, it is possible that under this alternative,
pronghorn would both benefit as well as be negatively impacted.

Water Quality - Any water quality impairments associated with livestock grazing would be expected to decrease.

Air Quality - No data exists to suggest that grazing has impaired the region's air quality.

Socio-Economic - Selection of this alternative would result in adverse financial impacts to the livestock operators who would be forced to either find alternative pasture in an area where such pasture is severely limited, reduce their herd size or leave the ranching industry altogether. This could also have adverse impact on local businesses that depend on the ranching industry for part, if not all, of their income. One scenario is that one or more of the livestock operators could subdivide their base property into "ranchettes." While more residences could benefit local businesses, it would most likely have an adverse impact to the wildllife that use the lands for at least part of the year.

CUMULATIVE IMPACTS:
[PROPOSED ACTION] - Practically all of the public land within the Pinedale Field Office is subject to grazing by livestock. The impacts of grazing authorized by this grazing permit add to the similar impacts that occur on the majority of the adjoining public land. Many wildlife species including big game, rabbits and prairie dogs, graze or remove vegetation. The grazing by livestock adds to the grazing use made by native wildlife. Although currently there has been no oil and gas development in this allotment, there could be in the future as it is occurring nearby. The changes in the plant community caused by grazing would add to the plant community changes that result from construction and reclamation activities associated with the oil and gas development. Although both activities cause changes in vegetation, the changes may be different. Grazing generally results in greater shrub production, while oil and gas reclamation efforts generally result in less shrub production. The combination of grazing and oil and gas drilling could have a cumulative effect on wildlife habitat condition and use. Any erosion that may exist within the allotment could also be affected by cumulative impacts caused by livestock grazing, future construction activities associated with oil and gas development and/or off road vehicle use associated with general recreation use.

[CANCELLATION OF ALL GRAZING PERMITS] - If numerous permits were cancelled it would become increasingly difficult to find alternate pasture in the area. This would cause more ranches to reduce herd size or leave the livestock industry altogether. This would result in a cumulative impact to the local livestock industry and any businesses in the area which depend in the ranches for support.

IRRRETRIEVABLE AND IRREVERSIBLE COMMITMENTS OF RESOURCES: Neither the proposed action nor the alternative to cancel grazing would result in an irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources. The short term use of the land could affect the long term productivity of the land under both alternatives. Although no-grazing and over-grazing can reduce rangeland productivity, permanent significant changes in productivity would not be expected.

DESCRIPTION OF MITIGATION MEASURES AND RESIDUAL IMPACTS: The allotment has been assessed in
accordance with the 6 Standards in the Standards for Healthy Rangelands and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management (43 CFR 4180). It was determined the allotment is in compliance, except for Standard #2 because of Meadow Canyon Creek's rating of functional at risk. The riparian areas will be temporarily fenced until such time as the areas are in compliance with the Standard and livestock management can maintain them at that level.

PERSONS/AGENCIES CONSULTED:

PREPARER: Ty Bryson, Rangeland Management Specialist
           ************************************************

Please bear with me while I bring your attention to a few of the several items that will illustrate the dilemma of our public lands and wildlife.

1) Note that although the permittee has been using only about half of his adjudicated AUMs, the land was placed in an
I(Improve) category and labeled "High Priority" for management considerations by the BLM. After those classifications, the permittee increased livestock use. The allotment is over- adjudicated.

2)Notice that the "No Action", "Issue A Modified Permit" and "Cancellation of all Grazing Permits" alternatives have been
removed from consideration because they are "not likely to survive a legal challenge", "would only reduce the Alsade, Ltd.
grazing permit" and "this alternative would be appealed" even though any would produce improved conditions on the allotment.

3)The proposed action continues the current use primarily to keep the Bureau from litigation and because to select any other alternative would "result in adverse financial impacts to the livestock operators" and "could also have adverse impact on local businesses that depend on the ranching industry for part, if not all, of their income." And since the other permittee in the allotment is allowed to graze livestock, Alsade, Ltd. can't be restricted. Under this philosophy, the Bureau cannot change the grazing in any common allotment unless all permits come up for review at the same time

4)Note all of the positive effects that would be seen by selecting the CANCELLATION OF ALL GRAZING PERMIT
alternative. The statements made in commenting on Riparian Ecology, Upland Ecology, Habitats and Water Quality certainly suggest that existing conditions are not as good as they could or should be and that at a minimum, the level of use should be modified to bring all environmental conditions to a higher standard.

5)The Cumulative Impacts section under the proposed action is a testimony to the fact that the Bureau of Land Management is well aware of the negative impacts of overgrazing on this allotment but nonchalantly brushes it off by saying they simply "add to the similar impacts that occur on the majority of the adjoining public land." The Bureau is not the least embarrassed by this statement which says a lot about their public lands management.

6)Note how many times the author contradicts other statements. For example: Page 2, bottom of page, "erosion was not
identified as a problem in the allotment during the 1998 Standards and Guidelines review." Page 3 CANCELLATION OF ALL GRAZING PERMITS "Under this alternative, the existing erosion would continue until such time as it becomes in balance with the landscape; however, due to the expected increase in plant cover and grass littler accumulation(and subsequent decrease in bare ground), the erosion process would be slowed." Beside the latter statement contradicting itself, it contradicts the former. Either erosion exists or it doesn't.

7)Note statements that are nonsensical. Example: Page 5 Under "Irretrievable and Irreversible Commitments of Resources" : "Although no grazing and over grazing can reduce rangeland productivity, permanent significant changes in productivity would not be expected." Complete opposites produce the same result? Evidence proves that overgrazing, not undergrazing, causes significant permanent changes in and reduces rangeland productivity.

The EA can be picked apart at every turn. The bottom line and sad truth of the whole thing is that this EA is typical of the logic and reasoning being used by our land management agencies to avoid taking meaningful steps to restore the vigor and health of public lands in Wyoming and the west. The evidence exists in massive amounts to tell the story of decades of mismanagement that continues today because of the fear of political backlash. The evidence exists in massive amounts to tell the story that public lands are not in the condition that they should be to promote sustained healthy natural ecosystems.
 

This type of nonsense need to be taken to task through the appeal process. Your help would be appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time to read it all.

Phil Riddle
priddle@rmisp.com


A Response. 3/5/99:

While you are finding out the real appeal process, which I don't know either, get out a letter saying /called "notice of appeal",  include all your reasons like you described in your email, add a few more and send it to the local BLM
or FS office.  If it turns out that you are missing some deadline you may be able to save your standing/position to appeal while you figure out the more formal approach. These time periods are crucial and any attempt to appeal further will be cut
off  or severely hampered if you end up fiing a perfect appeal a couple days late.  You can always amend your appeal notice to clear up loose ends later, if you are on time in the first place. Please post  any better answers to your question to the rangelist, I would like to know the answer to your question . If the agency thinks that "might lead to appeals" is a reason not to restrict AUMs, then I suppose that "might lead to appeals" could become a good reason for the opposite.

Call first, then go to your state's central agency office and look through the appeals files for any EAs that have been appealed.  You will find references to the procedural rules in those files.  The references are to CFR.  The agency may have a copy of the CFR or a local law library will have them.  They are also availabe on the net, though with some difficulty.
 
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