management practices will be designed
to improve ecological status to a satisfactory condition
. Unfortunately, these sites have crossed a
threshold, and will not return to a satisfactory condition without intensive restoration. Therefore,
the Forest
Service must manage the area to maintain the existing condition.

These State D plant
communities consist primarily of annual brome grasses, and early to mid
-
seral bunchgrasses that
are undesirable to livestock (Johnson and Simons 1987). To maintain the St
ate of these
communities
,
grazing, especially in the spring before the bunchgrasses
are growing

i
s advisable.
Annual bromes in this climate will start growth earlier than bunchgrasses, and are therefore
sought out by ungulates (
Clements (2004), Cox and An
derson (2004), and Pellant (1996)
. This
in
-
turn decreases the competitive edge of these annual species over the native bunchgrasses. For
this reason, although these lands are considered unsatisfactory, grazing is a large part of the
ability of keeping th
e perennials in the system, and therefore the acreage

in State D

will be
considered in the capability and suitability analysis.


Table 7 is a comparison of the livestock capacity of SRAA to actual grazing numbers using the
Capability Suitability model and

applying average pounds of forage produced, and average
amount consumed within the capable lands,.
The forage production column in Table 7 represents
the average forage production for the capable lands within SRAA. This amount was estimated by
figuring o
ut the dominant plant associations, and the percentage of these
sites

within the capable
lands, then us
ing Johnson and Simons (1987)
to assume the average forage production (pounds
per acre) for each of these sites.
The forage production was then figured by multiplying the
pounds per acre times the acres of that plant association within the capable lands. For the purpose
of this analysis, we assumed that the cattle will eat approximately 55 percent of the available
ve
getation,
as defined in the LRMP 1990. This value
for forage production available for
livestock grazing in
explained further in
Table 7.


The livestock capacity column in Table XX was then calculated for each allotment based on
average consu
mption rates
of cattle
. On average, a cow consumes 30 pounds of forage a day or
900 pounds of forage a month. The forage consumption rate is based on a lactating animal, and
the Forest Service handbook does not consider adolescent livestock to graze significant amoun
ts
Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

25

until the calves are approximately six months old. The calves are at these age limits when they

are removed from the allotment

in fall.


Table
7
.
Livestock Capa
city to Current Grazing Levels w
ithin the SRAA.


The effects of this carrying capacity on other resources within the SRAA and as defined
within
Gra
-
S4 in the HC CMP (2003
)

are defined within the Aquatics and Hydrology, Threatened,
Endangered, and Sensitive Species and wildlife sections of Chapter 3.
The effects are also
identified and disclosed with the
SRAA proposed actions
, Alternative 2
, and are discussed in
detail within this Rangeland Resources section.


Rangeland Condition

Range condition assessment was completed throughout the entire allotment.
The

range condition
of the Schleur Allotment was d
erived using a combination of assessme
nt
s and analysis

techniq
ues. These included: C&T plots, Ecoplots, PFC assessments,
photo trend

analysis,
Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health, botany and weed inventories, and wildlife surveys.
P
rofessional judgment
was also used to assess rangelan
d condition
by reviewing all available
data, historic accounts, utilization records, past pasture moves and
past
grazing man
agement
.


Conditions and management for rangeland areas are described in the
LRMP

(1990) as satisfactory
or unsatisfactory. Satisf
actory range conditions exist when the forage condition is at least ‘fair’
with a static or improving trend, and plant communities are a mid or higher seral state.
Unsatisfactory range conditions exist when the forage condition is ‘fair’ and in a downward
trend
or if the forage condition is ‘poor’, regardless of the trend. The
LRMP

(1990) also states the
attributes of riparian areas which may lead to an unsatisfactory rating
.
In addition, the
LRMP

(1990) provides direction, (Page 4
-
54), for management of a
reas in unsatisfactory range
condition, and requires allotment management plans that define desired future conditions for
these areas. In ecological terms, satisfactory range conditions are those in a mid to late
-
seral
stage and unsatisfactory range condi
tions are those in a mid (with downward trend), early, or very
early seral stage.


Upland Condition

-

During general reconnaissance of this allotment, two distinct patterns of
rangeland condition were noted. First, higher elevation areas tend to be steeper and contain
multiple layers of rims. Although water developments, drift fences, salting and herding

techniques have traditionally been used to keep the cattle in these higher elevation areas,
livestock grazing has not caused significant impacts. Most of
this area

dominated by late seral
native vegetation plant associations such as Idaho fescue
-
bluebunc
h wheatgrass
communities
(
Johnson and Simon 1987). The soils have stab
le aggregation and show little e
ffects from
historic or past land management practices.








Capable
Lands*
(acres)

Forage

production
(lbs)

Forage Production
available for Livestock
Grazing (lbs)

Livestock
Capacity

(Head Months)

Current Grazing
Level

(Head Months)

687

339,378

343,088

381

240
-
360

Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

26


Figure

5
. The capability and suitability of the Schleur Allotment

for cattle grazing using the Sheep
grazing protocol
.



Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

27

I
n the footslope/lower bench areas of this allotment, historical and past management has included
concentrating

livestock (cattle, sheep, and horses), into these areas and leaving them there until
t
he grazing season was over.
D
ecades of this type of land management

had lead to increased
grazing intensity on the

lower benches of the allotment, altering

dominate

plant communities of
Idaho fescue
-
bluebunch to one
s

dominated by native forbs, earlier se
ral bunchgrass species such
as sand dropseed, and sandberg bluegrass, and annual grasses.
A state and transition threshold
has been crossed in the lower benches and footslopes to a State and Transition Level C2:

Annuals
or bare soil plus weak bunchgrasses

(Johnson and Swanson 2007). The top soil horizon has been
altered or lost due to wind and water erosion, animal impacts, and changes
in

the vegetation
composition.

This has occurred on approximately 150 acres of the allotment. To move this site
back to
ward State A, active restoration activities would be needed. These activities are not
feasible with this project as they would include intensive activities such as plowing, seeding,
herbicide use, and fire. However, to maintain the current state condition
, grazing during cool
season such as late fall and early spring will promote use of the annual vegetation, therefore
decreasing competition with native bunchgrasses.
With the lack of grazing during the summer
months by bulls, and a rest rotational grazing
system in the Imnaha River pastures, Alternative 2
should have an increased rate of recovery compared to Alternative 3.


As
stated

in the
Existing Condition

section of this document, the year 2000 marked a change from
the past management. Fortunately, a seed source of native plant species still exists
in most plant
communities

and with continued proper management, these benches
may

eventually increase in
late

seral species

composition
. However, much of the native perennial bunch grass establishment
will depend on levels of annual vegetation competition. Current management does not appear to
be altering the current conditions, and may actually be helping to i
mprove conditions by
decreasing annual vegetation competition through

the

timing of grazing.


Small hillside wetlands are unusual in this landscape; however there is a wetland site on the
private land portion of this allotment. With current grazing mana
gement, this site receives
mechanical damage as livestock and wild ungulates seek the green forage within the wetland.


Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health (IIRH)

Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health
, (Pellent
et al
. 2005), was completed i
n two places
within this allotment. Depending on the location of the assessment, the results for the IIRH
analysis indicated a range from “none to slight”, “slight to moderate”, and “moderate” departures
from conditions expected for site and soil stabilit
y, hydrologic function, and biotic integrity
(Table
8
).


Table
8
. Results of the Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health Assessment for the
SRAA
.

Pasture

Soil & Site Stability

Hydrologic Function

Biotic Integrity

Schleur Creek

Slight to
Moderate
-
2.1

Slight to Moderate
-
2.3

Moderate
-
2.7

Adams Creek

None to Slight


1.1

None to Slight
-

1.2

None to Slight
-

1.25


The Adams Creek IIRH was completed just above the lowest rim rock area within the pasture.
The slopes on this site are steep, greater than 55 percent. Livestock have not grazed this
location

for several years, and there is no
t any evidence of timber harve
st
. The “none to slight” departure
found in the three indicators within
this

assessment area, reveal that the current condition of this
area are close to what is expected for

a climax plant community, (State A)
(USDA NRCS 2008).
Historically, the vegetatio
n was Idaho fescue
-
bluebunch wheatgrass/arrowleaf balsamroot plant
association (Johnson and Simon 1987). Today, there is a slight departure from historic conditions
in the plant community
.

The state of the plant community has shifted from a Phase A (late

seral)
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

28


to a Phase B in which annual
vegetation
encroachment has been observed and there is a slight
weakening of the late seral community vegetation. Generally, changes such as these occur as a
result of past or historic grazing (Johnson and Swanson 2007
). Past heavy use lead to a slight
decrease in native perennials, establishment of annuals, and the current evidence of past surface
soil erosion. This community has not crossed a threshold, and proper management will maintain
the c
urrent plant community
, and allow for
upward trend
.



The Schleur Creek pasture IIRH site was located on a footslope of the lower portion of the
pasture. It is considered as a South to Shallow South Ecological Site Description
(2008).

Historically the vegetation community on th
is site would have been an Idaho fescue
-
prairie
junegrass (low) plant association (Johnson and Simon 1987). Historic use and heavy grazing of
this site, lead to accelerated erosion and partial loss of the A soil horizon (USDA NRCS 1996).
This surface soil
loss in turn altered the soil and site stability and hydrologic function capabilities
of the site. The “slight to moderate” departure from what was expected

for this site (USDA
NRCS 2008)
.


Historic use and surface soil loss has also affected the ability f
or native bunchgrass communities
to re
-
establish or persist. This factor coupled with the slow infusion of non
-
native annual grasses
and forbs has lead to a change in the biotic community. IIRH results found a “moderate”
departure from what was expected
for the site (USDA NRCS 2008). There are still remnant
native bunchgrass communities within the low portion of the pasture which are producing a seed
source. However, it appears that often, open sites are continuing to be filled with annual
vegetation be
fore native perennials have a chance to establish.

Most of the lower benches in this
allotment are surround areas

have transitioned beyond the threshold for the dominant Idaho
fescue
-
prairie junegrass (low) plant association (Johnson and Swanson 2007).
Restoration of
current conditions of this plant community would not be possible without a considerable amount
of time, money, and physical alteration of the landscape.


Condition and Trend

(C&T)

and EcoPlots

Two

“condition and trend” (C&T) clusters were r
ead
with
in the Schleur Allotment
.
The clusters
were chosen bas
ed on location, and continuous accessibility to livestock. The
plots were first
read
as C&T in
1964
. In 2008, the clusters were read as C&T, and cover/freq
uency EcoPlots. T
he
results of the
EcoPlots cannot be analyzed

for trend

as they were read for the first time during the
2008 analysis. However, the results do provide valuable baseline data. The average amount of
key
ecological attributes

found within the C&T and Ecoplots is summarized in

Table
9
.


Table

9
. Results of C&T and EcoPlot long term monitoring plots for the
SRAA
.


Native

Perennial*

Moss

Lichens

Brome

Species

Bareground

Litter

Schleur 1

1964

2008

1964

2008

1964

2008

1964

2008

1964

2008

C&T Average (%)

5.67

10.67

0

0

.33

7.67

25.67

23.33

57.67

54.00

EcoPlot Average (%)


1.37


0.67


7.93


22.67


62.00

Schleur 2











C&T Average (%)

3.67

2.33

0

0

0

2.67

20.67

26.33

65.00

58.67

EcoPlot Average (%)


0.13


0


7.43


18.00


72.33

* Native perennials include the late
seral species of praire junegrass (
Koloeria macrantha
), bluebu
nc
h
wheatgrass (
Psuedoragneria spicata
), and Idaho fescue (
Festuca idahoensis
).



The C&T plots hold valuable information about the condition and trend of the area. For this
analysis, the C&
Ts were assessed using a paired t
-
test. The t
-
test used compared the historical
Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

29

(1964) percentage for a particular vegetation species or attribute to the current percentage, thus
creating a trend. For the Schleur Allotment, prairie junegrass, sandberg blu
egrass, bluebunch
wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, and annual bromes were compared. Other attributes including bare
ground, moss/lichen cover, and litter amounts were also compared (Table 9).


Cluster “Schleur 1” is located in the lower mid
-
slope of the Adams Cr
eek pasture. This site is an
Idaho fescue/prairie junegrass (low) plant association (Johnson and Simon 1987). Conditions of
forage were rated as poor with a static trend for both years assessed. A statistically significant
increase of seven percent withi
n each transect in Brome species was also noted. The trend for
both bare ground and litter was static. Bluebunch wheatgrass increased 50 percent from an
average of 5.7 percent presence per transect to 10.6 percent. Soil stability showed static
conditions
with a slight decrease in bare ground. Soil stability conditions remained static and
within the good rating.
Prior to the 1964 reading, t
he site vegetation community shifted from
Phase A to Phase C1 in which fescue has decreased in abundance, bluebunch
has increased, and
annual vegetation is present. With this state, (phase), the plant community has not crossed a
threshold, and through proper management, the state of the site should

maintain an upward trend
,
(Johnson and Swanson 2007).


Cluster “Schleur
2” is located in the lower mid
-
slope of the Schleur Creek pasture. This site is
most likely an Idaho fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass
-

Snake River phlox plant association (Johnson
and Simon 1987). Conditions of forage rating changed from very poor to poor cond
ition, with an
upward trend. There was a statistically significant decrease in
Poa secunda

(Sandberg bluegrass),
which dropped from an average of 13.5 to 2.5 percent within these transects. A significant
increase in
Bromus

species was also noted as they i
ncreased from an average of not being present
to having an average of two percent presences within these transects. The historic

Idaho
fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass
-

Snake River phlox plant association for this site has possibly
crossed a threshold and is
currently

con
sidered a bluebunch wheatgrass/s
andberg bluegrass plant
community. This site has transitioned to this state as a result of past and historic heavy grazing
(Johnson and Swanson 2007), and will most likely not return to the previous plant commu
nity
without extensive time and restoration activities. The native species present on this site, should
continue to persist and may increase with proper management. Soil stability rating for this cluster
rated as good during both readings of this plot.


With this trend analysis, there is not enough data to prove or disregard any theories. However,

one theory is
that
some of
the changes that are seen at these sites may be a result of a slow
increase in annual grass species. The increase in the later seral

species such as bluebunch
wheatgrass may
indicate

that changes in management are allowing these species to come back
into some areas where the plant communities have been compromised
site
(Swanson 2007).
However, future trend data is needed to confirm th
is theory.


Soil Stability

Soil Stability Evaluations (Herrick
et al
. 2004) were completed during both the C&T plots
readings, and IIRH assessments
.
Average soil stability ratings for the C&T cluster sites and the
IIRH sites fell within the expected range

of
3 to 5
, based on the reference from Ecological Site
Descriptions (USDA
NRCS

2008)

for this area (Table

10
).


Current management
is not

causing further degradation within the lower portions of the East
Imnaha River pastures. In the 1990s

and 2000,

grazing schedules changed to decrease pressure
on these transitional areas. Most likely, with the finalization of this NEPA decision, additional
grazing schedule changes will further decrease pressures on t
hese transitioned areas, and

lead to
regeneration

of some of the bunchgrasses.

Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

30


Table
10
. Soil stability results
for the SRAA
.

Pasture

Landform*

IIRH
Ratings

IIRH

Average

C&T Plot

Average

Spring Creek

Footslope

2
-

6

3.2


Schleur Creek

Convex Footslope

1
-

6

4.2

4.5

Adams Creek

Convex Footslope

5
-

6

5.8

4.8

Adams Creek

Bench, above Rim

1
-

6

4.7


College Creek

Alluvial Terrace

4
-

6

5.2


* The soil stability readings for the IIRH and C&T plots were not done in the same location, but on the
same landform.



Riparian Condition
-
A perennial stream flows within each of the Imnaha River pastures. The
perennial streams however, are not fish bearing as a result of physical barriers which prevent fish
from migrating up the stream corridors. Ocular estimates and Proper Function Conditi
on
assessments were used to assess riparian conditions for the perennial streams. Through these
analyses, it was found that past and historic logging practices within all four of the perennial
streams has lead to down
-
cutting and head
-
cutting of these sys
tems. However, over the past
several decades, the systems have stabilized as the current riparian areas are generally in good
condition with substantial woody vegetation, and rock armored stream banks and bottoms.


There appears to be little livestock an
d/or wild ungulate stream impacts with the exception of
College Creek which exhibits impacts from livestock and game trailing parallel to the stream,
especially near old skid roads and crossing sites where erosion is still occurring. Excluding the
livesto
ck crossing sites, there appears to be an upward trend in woody vegetation growth in many
of the riparian reaches accessible to livestock within the lower bench areas, in these Imnaha River
pastures. This vegetation recovery is also evident by the variabl
e age classes and the diversity of
the shrubs present.


Existing water rights on the lower benches of the Imnaha River pastures, allow for irrigation and
therefore associated water developments for irrigation on the private land located adjacent to the
allotment.


The Imnaha River is the only listed 303(d), (Clean Water Act), stream within the surrounding
vicinity of the SRAA. Water quality is limited in this reach of the Imnaha River for alkalinity,
ammonia, chloride, mercury, sediment, pH, and
temperature.

Rangeland Improvements

Water Sources


Twenty water developments are documented to exist within the Schleur
Allotment
, of which, t
hirteen are located in small drainages and swales of the
Middle Point

pasture. Three of the
Middle Point

water d
evelopment

sites were inspected, and only one was
found to be functional at this time. Seven water
developments are located in the
Imnaha River

pastures
. These water developments were surveyed only
if they were considered to be
functional
water source
s

bas
ed on permittee accounts and topog
raphical position. T
wo water developments,
located in the drainage bottoms of Adams and Spring Creeks, were identified as functional.



Fencing


The Schleur Allotment has external fences on the south s
ide of the
Middl
e Point

pasture. The rest of the pasture is not fenced due to the steep rim nature and inaccessibility for
livestock to pass.
Fencing on the Imnaha River pastures includes a combination f external
boundary and internal drift fences.
Natural barriers suc
h as rims and outcroppings are also used
Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

31

for controlling livestock. P
lease refer to the Schleur Allotment Fence Inventory located in the
project file.



Alternatives


Alternative 1


Rangeland Resources

Under this alternative, the current permit for this
allotment would not be reissued upon expiration
,
and

livestock grazing would not be authorized within the Schleur Allotment. The changes in
range condition described
in Alternative 1

are expected to gradually occur within a timeframe of
10 to 20 years pos
t expiration of the permit. Time frames for changes in range condition would
be influenced by climate, fire, vegetation management, and big game use.


Direct and Indirect Effects of Alternative 1



Rangeland Resources

This alternative would allow for th
e livestock trail
s

in College Creek to recover
quicker

than
predicted with
Alternative 2 and 3
. This

recovery

would decrease sedimentation to the stream,
and allow for woody and herbaceous vegetation to establish on the bare trail areas. However,
wild un
gulate impacts may increase

with a lack of livestock

and

decrease in human interaction,
inhibiting this
expected rate of recovery.


The logging skid road and skid trails located within the riparian areas will continue to heal and
stabilize. The rate of

recovery may increase in these areas with a decrease in herbivory and
mechanical damage from livestock.


The
plant association conditions

may transition toward a more climatic state at a faster rate with a
lack of livestock grazing. This would be a resu
lt of a decrease in herbivory on the native
perennial vegetation, and a decrease in mechanical damage to the soil. The decrease in grazing
will

allow the perennials to develop more s
eeds annually, and this will

lead to an increase in
establishment of

nati
ve perennial grasses. With a decrease in mechanical hoof damage, less
micro sites would be available for annual grasses to colonize.


However, with a lack of livestock grazing, c
heatgrass

and other annual grasses

will
inhibit

plant
succession by outcomp
eting native perennial grass seedlings for moisture

(
Young and
Darin
(2004
) and Cox and Anderson (2004)
)
. In a study by West
et al
. (1982), thirteen years after the
removal of livestock from an area with cheatgrass, the total herbaceous standing crop did n
ot
increase. Furthermore, many of the perennial grasses decreased, and cheatgrass incr
eased over
the 13 year period.

Cheatgrass therefore appears to outcompete perennial grass systems with the
absence of grazing
by utilizing the soil moisture and not hav
ing the disadvantage of being
selected as a result of grazing.
Pellant (1996), states that livestock practices can be used to restore
bunchgrass systems that contain cheatgrass [or other bunchgrass systems dominated by annuals]

by grazing during times when

annual grasses are palatable and sought by livestock (spring and
fall).


Alternative 2


Rangeland Resources

This alternative would authorize livestock grazing at a level similar to levels
and during the same
timeframe of April
-
November as
authorized in the most recent
annual grazing instructions.
However, a
rest
-

rotational schedule would be adopted, and grazing would only occur in the
spring and fall.


Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

32


T
his alternative proposes

for the
Middle Point

pasture to be
use
d

when feasible,
as
explained in
the Description of Alternative 2 in the Alternatives Chapter of this document.


With Alternative 2, restoration activities are proposed to increase the rate of upward trend within
the vegetative communities on the allotment and decrease
sediment or any other resource
concerns

within the riparian or upland areas
. These actions include fixing the irrigation system,
fence maintenance and reconstruction, prote
cting the wetland site, restoration activities
in the
College Creek riparian area,
and annual monitoring. Implementation of the resulting Allotment
Management Plan from this proposal will commence in spring of 2011.


Direct and In
direct Effects of Alternative 2

This alternative authorizes 360 head months to graze between the dates of A
pril 15 and
November 30 annually. In the Schleur Creek pasture, the uplands especially close to the fence
boundary on the lower end of the pasture are disturbed most likely as a result of past and historic
grazing practices leading to overgrazing and soil

compaction. The proposed action would
improve these areas
through grazing
schedule
s

as described under Alternative 2 by allowing
plants to complete growth cycles and increase
soil and plant
carbon storage. The upper portions
of the Spring, Schleur and A
dams Creek pastures are in a later seral vegetative state due to the
inaccessibility of steep terrain and lack of dependable water. Cattle would not be encouraged to
utilize these steep uplands, however incidental grazing may occur with the deferred sched
ule as
described under Alternative 2. The upper portion of the College Creek pasture also consists of
vegetation in a later seral vegetative state, but with a wider valley bottom, and
capable and
suitable acres to support livestock grazing
. Cattle would b
e encouraged to utilize forage in the
upper reaches of the College Creek pasture when the soils are dry, and on the deferred and r
est
rotational grazing schedule

as described under Alternative 2.


T
he fall rest rotation grazing schedule
allows for

the sam
e pastures
to

be grazed in the fall a
s were
grazed the spring before. Therefore,
each
Imnaha River
pasture will receive a fu
ll year and a half
rest before it will

be grazed again. This type of grazing system will prevent an area from being
grazed in the
fall, and again the following spring.


By decreasing the livestock impacts in the College Creek riparian area with the rest rotational
schedule
,

and by limiting

riparian

access with woody vegetation and ot
her debris, the livestock
trailing parallel to

Co
llege Creek will
decrease
. This decrease in use would allow the trails to
decompact through the freeze
-
thaw cycle which would open up the soil, and allow root
penetration. There is a viable seed source present with the diverse shrub species, which would
establish on these trails. The re
-
colonization on the trail system will decrease future use by both
livestock and wild ungulates in the College Creek riparian area and will also decrease the
sediment load in the stream, and further the Imnaha River.


The

fences located between upper and lower College Creek in the College Creek pasture will be
re
-
built,
giving

the permittee more control over livestock

distribution.


The wetland site located in the College Creek pasture

would

sustain
less impacts

f
r
o
m livestock
with the changes in the grazing schedule proposed with this Alternative.


Alternative 3


Rangeland Resources


Alternative 3 represents continuation of the current management strategy as developed over the
years through annual instruction. T
his alternative retains the scheduled use, and requires

the
permittee to achieve

livestock distribution though herding and salting techniques and
maintenance of existing range improvements
.

This

alternative does not adopt

the proposed
Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

33

actions
of grazing sc
hedule changes, rest of pastures, wetland restoration, riparian protection, or
increased monitoring
identified in Alternative 2.
Refer to the description of Alternative 2 and 3
mitigations and monitoring within the Mitigation and Design Features of Chapte
r 2.


Direct and Indirect Effects of Alternative 3

This alternative authorizes the same number of livestock and season of use as currently contained
within the Schleur Term Grazing Permit. The livestock will continue to graze all
Imnaha River
pastures bi
-
annually (in spring and fall). This will make it difficult to meet the standards and
objectives of the HCRNA CMP and the
LRMP

(1990)
. The possibilities of adversely affecting
long term health of the upland rangelands by consecutively grazing bi
-
annually

are higher than
those proposed in Alternative 2.
The upward trend desired through the HC CMP (2003) will be
realized with this alternative, but at a slower rate than Alternative 2.
With this Alternative,

restoration activities within

the riparian area of

College Creek will not

occur,
decreasing the rate
of recovery, and increasing the possibility of sediment flowing into the Imnaha River. Also
,

with
this alternative, the wetland site will
receive the same level of livestock use annually.


Cumulative Effe
cts of Alternative 1


Rangeland Resources

Homesteading practices of farming, intensive and improperly managed livestock grazing
practices, past and historic timber harvests and silviculture activities (including skid road and skid
trail practices), have c
hanged the pattern of the riparian and upland vegetation communities and
in some cases, has altered the natural function of these communities. Although these practices
have environmentally improved or ceased over the past several decades, some effects of
these
practices are still evident today. Actions that may contribute to cumulative effects within the
Schleur Allotment include; grazing on adjacent private lands, noxious weed treatments, and
regulated hunting seasons.


Livestock grazing on adjacent p
rivate lands will continue, and would most likely increase as a
result of decreased opportunity of the National Forest under this alternative. Currently, the
private land located between the Schleur Allotment and Inmaha River is
farmed

in the spring
month
s, and grazed after harvest. If grazing were to cease on the allotment, the current permittee
would be forced to increase grazing on the adjacen
t private land, and compromise

the winter hay
crop produced. Private land that is grazed in conjunction with the Term Grazing Permit may be
fenced from the National Forest, and grazed with the other adjacent private land. This may mean
a marked increase in utilization and impacts of
livestock on these private lands including riparian
areas, the wetland site, and the uplands. This degradation could increase sediment delivery to the
Imnaha River as the areas may become more heavily stocked to compensate for the loss of
National Forest
grazing.


Removal of livestock grazing from the Schleur Allotment would not be expected to change much
of the effects of past or future management practices and projects.


The funding for noxious weed treatments is largely from money returned to the Hel
ls Canyon
NRA from grazing fees. With the lack of grazing, inventorying and weed control would cease
unless funding was secured through a grant or specific weed treatments within the Schleur
Allotment was part of grant funding.


Alternative 1 would not reissue the Schleur Allotment permit upon current expiration. This No
Grazing Alternative would have negative effects on the permittee and
the local community. The
livestock operation may no longer be viable without the use of the
public land, as much of the
private land the permittee would be forced to graze on, currently raises the winter forage for the
permittee’s livestock. Even though the loss of the permittee and the livestock operation is small
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

34


when compared to the rest of t
he land and ranching operations in Wallowa County, the loss
combined with other dependent economic losses in the area could have multiple and exponential
effects. Ranching contributes to the local economy directly through sales, job creation, support
serv
ices and businesses, but also by supplying secondary markets such as food processing and
sales. These benefits to the local area would not any longer exit to the same level with this
alternative.


Climate change and its effects to natural resources are b
ecoming more and more of a global
concern. The last Chief of the Forest Service, Abigail R. Kimbell, addressed the necessity of the
Forest Service to consider climate change by establishing that, “...as a science
-
based organization,
we need to be aware of
, and consider [climate change] anytime we make a decision regarding
resource management...” This then poses the question of the relationship between climate
change, ecosystem dynamics, and subsequent livestock grazing management on the National
Forest.
Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the many components which may be contributing to
climate change. Miller (2005) stated that greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide,
are increasing in the atmosphere. These emissions are expected to escalat
e the invasion of annual
grasses and noxious weeds on rangeland as these species
thrive with increased levels of carbon
dioxide (Miller 2005).
A
ccording to Young and
Darin (2004
) and Cox and Anderson (2004), as

[annual grasses], increase, they will inhibit

plant succession by outcompeting native perennial
grass seedlings for moisture. If climate change is truly having an impact on rangelands, and is
elevating invasive species levels, the inhibiting plant succession effects may be compounded by a
lack of gra
zing

(West
et al
. 1982)
.


Alternative 1 Compliance with the
LMRP (1990)

-

Cumulatively, this alternative does not meet
LRMP

(1990)

direction to make available forage production above that needed for maintenance
or improvement of the basic resources to wi
ldlife (within Management Objective levels), to
permitted domestic livestock under standards and guidelines that will assure continued
maintenance or improvement of the resource.


Alternative 1 Compliance with the HC CMP (2003)



This Alternative is meet
s all of the goals,
objectives, standards, and guidelines presented within the HC CMP (2003),
with the exception of
Gra
-
S2: Sites in State C2 can only be maintained with competition, (such as grazing) on the
annual vegetation. With a lack of grazing, thes
e sites will most likely transition to a monoculture
of annual vegetation.


Cumulative Effects of Alternative 2


Rangeland Resources

Baseline conditions would evolve as described under Cumulative Effects for Alternative 1.
Under Alternative 2, livestock would be authorized to graze each of the four Imnaha River
pastures
in a rest/deferred rotation.
Rangeland condition in the analysis a
rea as a whole is on an
upward trend as depicted by data collected and described in the Existing Condition section of this
document. In general, the current upward trend in rangeland and riparian conditions has occurred
with the yearly bi
-
annual presence
of livestock. However, it would be expected that grazing
management under Alternative 2 would accelerate the rate of recovery (compared to Alternative
3). In isolated areas of unsatisfactory range condition

upward trend is expected by improved

livestock
distribution through schedule changes
. R
estoration
activities

within the College Creek
riparian area as discussed in Direct/Indirect Effects of Alternative 2 will all aid in a faster rate of
recovery.


This Alternative should not have any increased cost f
or managing livestock compared to current
management. Authorizing grazing on the Schleur Allotment will not have any of the negative
socio
-
economic affects as described in Cumulative Effects of Alternative 1.

Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

35


Big Game will continue to utilize the habita
t and forage values that exist within the Schleur
Allotment with the continuation of livestock grazing. However, with the annual use and
presences of humans, this use may be less than expected with Alternative 1.

Alternative 2 Compliance with
LMRP (1990
)

-

Cumulatively, this alternative meets
LRMP

(1990)

goals and objectives, including those specif
ically for Rangeland Management, and
goals for local
community stability (USDA Forest Service 1998).


Alte
rnative 2

Compliance with the HC CMP (2003)



This
Listed below are the ways and or
location of information that describes how Alternative 2 meets the goals, objectives, standards ,
and guidelines of the HC CMP (2003).



Gra
-
O1: Rest
-
rotation grazing schedule, allowing only incidental grazing in the higher
elevations of the Imnaha River pastures, and non
-
use option for grazing the
Middle Point

pasture.



Gra
-
O2:Will be accomplished with the completion of the AMP



Gra
-
O3:
See the Existing Condition section of this Rangeland Resource section, see the
existing conditions presented in Chapter 1.



Gra
-
O4:
Refer to the Existing Condition section of this Rangeland Resource, and the Soil
resources section of this Chapter.



Gra
-
S2: Satisfactory condition
was found in 90 percent of the allotment, these areas are
described in the Existing Condition section of this Rangeland Resources section.



Unsatisfactory Condition

areas w
ill be managed to maintain current potential of these

sites.



Gra
-
S3:
Will be accomplished with the completion of the AMP



Gra
-
G1:
Will be competed through the rest
-
rotation grazing schedule, allowing only
incidental grazing in the higher elevations of the Imnaha River pastures, and non
-
use option
for grazing
the
Middle Point

pasture, and through wetland restoration and riparian protection
activities.



Gra
-
G2:
Citation can be identified throughout the document



Gra
-
S4:
See the Capability and Suitability within this Rangeland Resources Section, also
refer to the
Aquatics and Hydrologic, Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species, and
Wildlife Resources section of this chapter.



Gra
-
S5:
Addressed in the Mitigation Measures for Noxious Weeds, Chapter 2.




Gra
-
G3:
Accompli
sh through the proposed r
est
-
rotational gra
zing system.



Gra
-
G4:
Not feasible with the scope of this project




Gra
-
S7:
There are not any proposed improvements


Cum
ulative Effects of Alternative 3



Rangeland Resources

Cumulative effects, in general, would be the same as described for Alternative 2.

However, a
slower rate of recovery may occur in riparian areas
, lower benches, and the wetlands

due to the
lack of proposed schedule changes and rehabilitation projects.

Alternative 3

Compliance with
LMRP (1990)

-

Cumulatively, this alternative meets
LRMP

(1990)

goals and objectives, including those specif
ically for Rangeland Management, and
goals for local
community stability (USDA Forest Service 1998).


Alte
rnative 3

Compliance with the HC CMP (2003)



This Listed below are the differences in
meeti
ng the goals, objectives, standards, and guidelines when compared to Alternative 2. Only
differing goals, objectives, standards, and guidelines are defined.

Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

36




Gra
-
O1:
This will be realized, but at a slower rate than Alternative 2



Gra
-
O4:
This will continue

at existing levels
.



Gra
-
S2:

Restoration and protection

effects will not be realized, l
ivestock will use State
C2

sites annually.



Gra
-
G1:
This will continue at existing levels.



Gra
-
G3:
This rotation will not occur.


Effects common to all Alternatives

Livestock may have many direct and indirect impacts on climate change. According to Brown
et
al
. (2009), methane gas is considered a greenhouse gas, and has increased within the atmosphere
as a result of ruminant animals, the burning of natural gas, and emissions from landfills.
Approximately 18 percent of agriculturally emitted greenhouse gasses ar
e from grazed lands, and
is not representative of carbon stored within the soils and forests (USDA 2008). Some studies
have found limited to large reductions in soil carbon and increases in carbon dioxide flux with
grazing (Haferkamp and Macneil 2004 and
Welker
et al
. 2004). Studies involving modeling and
remotely sensed data indicate that proper grazing on rangelands can improve ecosystem
production as measured by soil carbon storage (Li,
et al
. 2007, Steinfeld and Wassenaar 2007,
Reeder
et al
. 2001, Sch
uman
et al
. 2002). Additional studies similarly conclude that certain
levels of grazing may even increase carbon sequestration (Hellquist
et al
. 2007, Derner
et al
.
2006 and 2005, LeCain
et al
. 2002, Ganjegunte
et al

2005, Manley
et al
. 1995, Reeder
et al
.
2001, Schuman
et al
. 2002).


Given the above information, it can be assumed that there is variability in carbon storage and
landscape carbon storage response to grazing pending land type and local conditions (Derner
et
al
. 2006 and Henderson
et al
. 200
4). However, literature research consistently suggested that
management practices which maintain or move plant associations to satisfactory rangeland
conditions appear to be consistent with maintaining soil organic pool, and therefore soil carbon
sinks (H
enderson
et al
. 2004, Brown and Thrope 2008, and Sharrow 2008).


According to Brown
et al
. (
2009
), “evaluating rangeland ecosystem resilience generally involves
defining the capability of an ecosystem or community to withstand stress and/or disturbance and

recover to its original condition. Some rangelands are quite resilient if current disturbances and
stresses mimic those in their evolutionary history. However, disturbances tend to interact
different
ly

as soils, vegetation and climate change. It will b
e impossible to assess the impact of
global change on rangeland ecosystems without high quality, consistent accessible soils and
vegetation data and models that describe how
changes occur in response to stress and
disturbance”.


At this point in time, scie
ntific data on the impacts of climate changes within the ecosystems
present on the Wallowa
-
Whitman National Forest

is lacking
. Therefore, it is difficult to address
how livestock grazing should be altered to compensate for climate change conditions. Our

current management protocols allow the Forest Service and the Range Specialists to alter grazing
management if a trend change in resource conditions is observed. Furthermore, annual and long
term monitoring protocols are in place to distinguish when veg
etation dynamics and rangeland
conditions need management changes. Alternative 2 was designed to address changes when
detected by implementing the standards and guidelines of the
LRMP

(1990)
, the HCNRA CMP

(2003)

and adaptive management,
all

of which will

allow for the range managers to recognize and
address trends regardless of the cause.


Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

37

Aquatic
and Hydrologic
Resources


Existing Condition


Aquatic and Hydrologic Resources


This report analyzes effects of management in
the
Schleur allotment, on aquatic

species and
habitats present in the portion of Big Sheep Creek located within the Steer Creek and Lower
Little Sheep Creek subwatersheds, and the Imnaha River in the Deer Creek subwatershed (Table

11
). The Schleur allotment consists of
five

pastures, fou
r of which drain to the Imnaha River via
several perennial nonfishbearing tributaries. These

four

pastures will be described collectively as
the Imnaha River pastures.


The
fifth

pasture straddles the break between Lower Little Sheep Creek and Steer Cre
ek
subwatersheds in the Upper and Lower Big Sheep Creek watersheds. Although the sub
watersheds are named after key tributaries within their boundaries, those particular tributaries are
not part of this analysis, as they are not influenced by management wi
thin the allotment. The
Middle Point

unit drains directly to Big Sheep Creek via ephemeral non
-
fishbearing headwater
tributaries. There are no intermittent or perennial streams within the
Middle Point

unit
.


The area analyzed for effects to fish and a
quatic invertebrates and their habitats consists of the
allotment,
and
the tributaries providing hydrologic connectivity between the allotment and
reaches of the Imnaha River and Big Sheep Creek

that receive

flow from one or more of those
tributaries. Al
l units of the allotment are
one
-
half

mile or more upslope from fishbearing
streams. Private lands separate all parts of the allotment from aquatic species and habitats.


The project site climate is considered “Mediterranean” with dry summers and mild, wet winters
Johnson and Simon 1987). Precipitation varies by elevation; the average annual precipitation at
the Town of Imnaha is 28 inches while at higher elevations can re
ceive more than 56 inches of
precipitation. Most of the precipitation occurs from November to March. At the lower elevations
and canyon bottoms, most of this precipitation falls as rain; however, snow is not uncommon.
Season long snow generally occurs a
t elevations above 5,000 feet (US Geological Survey 2008).


Table
1
1
.
SRAA Hy
drologic context.

Watershed
Location

Subwatershed
Name (code)

Manage
-
ment Units

PACFISH
Category II and
IV streams within
allotment

PACFISH Category I Streams
outside the
allotment but
potentially influenced by
allotment management

Mid

Imnaha
(1706010202)

Deer Cr. (02)

Spring

Spring (Cat. II)

Imnaha River





Schleur

Schleur (Cat. II)

Imnaha River





Adams

Adams (Cat. II)

Imnaha River





College

College (Cat. II)

Imnaha River





Middle
Point

None

Imnaha River

Lower Big
Sheep Creek

(1706010204
)

Lower Little
Sheep Creek (07)

Middle
Point

Unnamed

(Cat. IV)

Big Sheep Creek

Upper Big
Sheep Creek

(1706010203)

Steer Creek (06)

Middle
Point

unnamed

(Cat. IV)

Big Sheep
Creek


Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

38


Rain
-
on
-
snow events and summer thunderstorms can produce flood events and debris flows in the
ephemeral swales and intermittent channels. Debris fans occur at the mouths of most tributaries.


Hydrologic and Stream Characteristics

-

The perennial
streams, intermittent channels, and
ep
hemeral draws within the Schleur

Allotment do not have identified designated beneficial uses.
Beneficial uses have been designated along the Imnaha River and Big Sheep Creek, below the
allotment boundaries (Table
12
).

Table
12

displays 303(d) listed waters that are adjacent to or within one half mile of the
allotment. The connection of the allotment to the Imnaha River or Big Sheep Creek will be
discussed below under stream characteristics.

Table

12
.

Listed water adj
acent to or within

one half mile of the SRAA

Water quality
limited river (303(d))
and segment


Allotment (unit)
adjacent or within one
half mile of 303(d) listed
water

Listed water
quality
parameter

Beneficial uses

Imnaha River

RM 0
-
72

(entire river)


None

Schleur Allotment
contains perennial
channels that drain
directly into the Imnaha
River. The allotment is
separated from the Imnaha
River by private land

Alkalinity,
Ammonia,
Chloride,
Mercury,
Sediment, pH,
Temperature

Aquatic life, Drinking
water, S
almon and trout
rearing and migration,
Cold
-
water biota

Imnaha River

RM 0
-
49.5 (m
outh to
Big Sheep Cr
confluence)


None

Schleur Allotment
contains perennial
channels that drain
directly into the Imnaha
River above this listed
segment

Dissolved
Oxygen,
Nutrients, Fecal
Coliform

Cool
-
water aquatic life,
Aesthetics, Water
contact Recreation

Big Sheep Creek

RM 0
-
10 (m
outh to
Steer Creek)


None

Middle Point

Pasture
contains intermittent and
ephemeral channels that
drain directly into Big
Sheep Creek. The
allotment is
approximately 0.5 miles
from Big Sheep Creek

Temperature

Salmon and trout
rearing and migration

Data Source: Oregon Department of
Environmental Quality 2008)


Allotment Stream Channels

The Schleur Allotment contains the perennial streams of Spring Creek, Schleur Creek,

Adams
Creek, and College Creek.
The
Middle Point

Pasture contains intermittent and ephemeral
drainages. None of th
e allotment streams are fish
-
bearing. The perennial streams are steep and
confined. Modification of the perennial stream channels and riparian areas has occurred on the
Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

39

private land to accommodate farming and ranching operations (Spring, Adams, Schleur,
and
College
Creeks
). Properly Functioning Condition Assessments were completed on the lower
portions of each perennial stream within the allotment boundary
.



Cattle access to riparian areas and the perennial streams is a concern on the lower bench and
f
ootslope landscapes of the
Imnaha River pastures
. Within the rimrock, the channels are
generally inaccessible to cattle either as a result of steep slopes or dense streamside shrubs and
vegetation. The channels change from intermittent

to perennial

flow
, with some sub
-
surface flow
areas,
within a mile
above

the allotment boundary
, on Forest Service land
.


There is little evidence that upland hillslope sediment is reaching the stream
s within the SRAA
.
Upland hillslope erosion material is being caught in
hillslope micro sites and along the toe of the
terrace; the material does not move across th
e valley bottom to the channel.


Cattle did not graze the allotment during the years of 2006 and 2007

due to a change
within the
livestock operation
; however grazin
g was rei
ssued

in 2008.


In all the pastures, between the allotment boundary and the Imnaha River there is private land.
Farming, homesteading, and ranching activities on this property have occurred adjacent to the
four streams. The amount of erosional material entering the Imna
ha River from allotment
tributaries today is undistinguishable from background turbidity and bedload in the Imnaha River
during periods of high flow. Increases in fine sediment or embeddedness in the Imnaha River are
expected to be immeasurable due to sma
ll tributary volume compared to the Imnaha River’s river
power and size of the receiving streambed.


PFC Assessments

Spring Creek

-

was found to be in
PFC,

(
Properly Functioning Condition
)

in October 2008
(Prichard
et al
.

1998). The channel has strong perennial flow with an average bankfull width of
about five feet and a bankfull depth of one foot. The channel is incised into an inner gorge with a
low terrace/floodprone area. This narrow valley is framed by steep slopes

which extend to the
footslope or lower benches of the canyon walls
.
Vegetation on the low terrace/floodprone area is a
well developed and diverse Ponderosa Pine/Common snowberry
-
Floodplain Plant Association
(Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997).


In
-
channel sedime
nt is primarily from natural stream processes as flows access the upper and
lower banks during high flow events or where a tree or shrub root or branch pushes the creek to
one si
de of the inner gorge. Less tha
n 20 linear feet of cattle or ungulate related

bank alteration
was noted in the lower 0.75 miles of Spring Creek within the Spring Creek Pasture.

More
information on this PFC, and the other PFC’s completed for the SRAA can be found in the
project files.


Schleur Creek

-

was found to be
at

PFC

in Octo
ber 2008 (Prichard
et al
.

1998). The channel has
strong perennial flow with an average bankfull width of about five feet and a bankfull depth of
two feet. The channel is incised into an inner gorge with a low terrace/floodprone area. This
valley is fram
ed by steep slopes which extend to the footslope or lo
wer benches of the canyon
walls.
Vegetation on the low terrace/floodprone area is a well developed and diverse Ponderosa
Pine/Common snowberry
-
Floodplain Plant Association (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997).


There is an irrigation diversion in Schleur Creek near the allotment boundary with a second
diversion lower in the creek on private land. The upper diversion has created a drop of 3
-
4 feet
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

40


below the structure but no headcutting was noted because the area

has been hardened with cobble
and boulders.


In
-
channel sediment is primarily from natural stream processes as flows access the upper and
lower banks during high flow events or where a tree or shrub root or branch pushes the creek to
one side of the inn
er gorge. Approximately 34
-
40 linear feet of cattle or ungulate related bank
alteration was noted in the lower 0.5 miles of Schleur Creek, within the Schleur Creek Pasture.


Adams Creek

-

was found to be
at PFC

in October 2008 (Prichard
et al
.

1998). The

channel has
strong perennial flow with an average bankfull width of about seven feet and a bankfull depth of
1.5 feet. The channel is incised into an inner gorge with a low terrace/floodprone area. This
inner valley is framed by steep slopes which exten
d to the footslope or lo
wer benches of the
canyon walls.
V
egetation on the low terrace/floodprone area is a well developed and diverse
Ponderosa Pine/Common snowberry
-
Floodplain Plant Association (CPS5
-
11 Crowe and
Clausnitzer 1997).


In
-
channel sediment is primarily from natural stream processes as flows access the upper and
lower banks during high flow events or where a tree or shrub root or branch pushes the creek to
one side of the inner gorge. Approximately 40
-
50 linear feet of ca
ttle or ungulate related bank
alteration was noted in the lower 0.5 miles of Adams Creek within the Adams Creek Pasture.


College Creek

-

was found to be
FAR, (
Functioning at Risk
)

in October 2008 (Prichard
et al
.

1998). By late fall, the channel has ver
y little flow. The average bankfull width is about five feet
with a bankfull depth of one foot. The channel is incised into an inner gorge with a low terrace/

floodprone area. This narrow valley is framed by steep slopes which extend to the footslope or

lower benches of the canyon walls. Vegetation on the low terrace/floodprone area is a Black
Hawthorn Plant Community (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997).


The lower, perennial channel is an A type channel with a gravel bed (Rosgen A4), (Rosgen
1996). The chan
nel appears to have been altered in the past, a combination of riparian

timber

harvest, grazing, and farming practices which has simplified the c
hannel and riparian structure
. A
small headcut was noted
, and

created below an old skid trail crossing, now be
ing used as a stream
access by ungulates and other wildlife. The headcut does not appear to be moving.


The channel changes from intermittent
to perennial
within the allotment about 0.5 miles upstream
of the lower allotment boundary. Above the spring s
ource for College Creek
, t
here are animal
crossing but they are covered in grass with small localized areas of bank alteration and hoof
shear. Few cattle impacts were noted in this upper reach of College Creek.

Below the spring
source, u
ngulate grazing h
as resulted in hoof shear in the steep, loam textured bank soils. Water
access trails occur on average about every 50 feet, most access water from one side of the valley
and do not provide a connection between the uplands. There is a large population of
deer and elk
that use established trails to reach water. There are at least three large, hardened water crossing
that appear to be old skid trails, scattered pines have been harvested from the riparian area. At the
upper skid trail crossing, the south ac
cess trail intercepts a spring resulting in year
-
long soil
movement towards the channel.


Middle Point

Pasture

-

is

punctuated by ephemeral swales that transition into intermittent
channels about a third of the way down the slope. Springs are found in the rimrock, some of
which provide intermittent flow during the spring or fall. Water from the springs alternates
bet
ween surface and groundwater depending on the drainage slope and bed material. There are
not any riparian areas within the allotment boundary.

Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

41

Summary


Healing and hardening of the tributary stream channels and riparian areas have occurred since the
days
of riparian timber harvest and heavy grazing pressure. Today’s grazing activities maintain
but do not appear to be degrading the current channel and riparian conditions. Bank alteration
occurs at water access points and crossings but does not appear to b
e enlarging or translating into
channel morphology or riparian community changes upstream or downstream from the access
point.


Upland hillslope erosion that reaches tributary streams as well as streambank erosion would
provide direct sediment to the
Imnaha River, especially during periods of runoff. During runoff,
erosional material would be transported directly to the Imnaha River since there is little in
-
channel sediment storage within the tributaries. During periods of low flow and on the recedin
g
limb of the spring runoff hydrograph, the lack of streampower in the tributaries would result in
erosional material being stored behind wood, boulders, and at changes in channel gradient, where
these features are available. This stored material would mo
ve through the system when flows
increase (
e.g.,

during spring runoff or thunderstorm events) and be indistinguishable from
background rates.


Table

13
.
Proper Functioning Condition

Summary

for the SRAA

Allotment

Unit

Perennial
streams

Allotment stream
Conditions and Interactions

Schleur

Middle Point

None


Schleur

College Creek

College Creek

FAR* with numerous crossings.
College Creek flows
through private land between the allotment and the
FS administration site.

Schleur

Adams Creek

Adams Creek

PFC,
f
lows through privat
e land before reaching
Imnaha River

Schleur

Schleur Creek

Schleur Creek

PFC, i
rrigation structures noted in the channel.
Flows through privat
e land before reaching Imnaha
River

Schleur

Spring Creek

Spring Creek

PFC, f
lows through
private land before reaching
Imnaha River.

Data Source: W
-
W NF GIS Stream data, run June 2008


* FAR


Functioning at risk, PFC


Proper functioning Condition


Riparian Areas, Wetlands, Floodplains, Groundwater, and Water Developments

E
phemeral draw bank

vegetation is often dense shrub thickets or similar to that found on the
adjacent hillslopes

with little to no riparian area
. Along the intermittent channels, limited riparian
development may be noted based on the length of time water remains in the chan
nel and the
presence of groundwater.


Riparian areas occur along the perennial tributaries as well as the Imnaha River and Big Sheep
Creek. Most of the allotment riparian areas, along the benches and footslopes, have been
modified with historic farming
and ranching activities as well as timber harvest. This is
especially true for College Creek.


Within the rimrock, all the streams are intermittent or ephemeral in nature, steep, confined A type
channel (Rosgen 1998), and well armored with rock and dens
e woody vegetation. Herbaceous
cover is often lacking under the dense woody vegetation with bare ground adjacent to the
channels common in heavily shaded areas. Where sunlight filters to the ground, perennial
grasses, forbs, and shrubs are common groundco
vers with little bare ground noted. Riparian and
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

42


valley bottom vegetation form a barrier to cattle movement except at established stream access
points or crossings. Except for isolated areas along Schleur and College Creeks where the inner
valley is wide

and flat, cattle do not trail up and down the channel for any length.


On the bench landscapes, streams flatten in gradient and the valley walls widen providing
opportunities for cattle to access the streams for water, shade, and forage. For Spring, Schl
eur,
and Adams Creeks, the streams show little evidence of excessive trailing or cattle crossings.
Cattle cross these streams at established and hardened locations, many of which are historic stock
driveways or skid trails. For College Creek, excessive t
railing or crossings have resulted in
reduced riparian and stream channel condition. All of the channels have evidence of riparian
harvest.


As noted in Table
13
,
Spring, Schleur, and Adams Creeks are properly functioning with channel
processes dominated b
y the interaction of precipitation, natural erosion rates, and vegetation.
Exceptions occur in College Creek which has elevated levels of sediment contributions from both
wild ungulates and cattle.



An undeveloped hillslope spring/wet meadow was observed

in the College Unit. This site has
elevated levels of trampling and hoof shear with contributions from both wild ungulates and
cattle.
Although this site has withstood grazing impacts for decades, the site may be

at risk of
drying as well as gully and r
ill development because of the trampling impacts.



Functional t
rough water developments

with

were found to be stable
, in rock armored locations

with little evidence of current
livestock impacts
.


Summary:

Current range management is not resulting in accelerated streambank shear or in
-
channel sedimentation in Spring, Schleur, or Adams Creeks. In
-
channel sedimentation is high in
College Creek; however, much of the accelerated in
-
channel sedimentation is th
e result of
historical changes to the stream channel and riparian area and not current range management. For
the most part, stream conditions and vegetation communities are being maintained; no re
covery
or trends are apparent, however, use of the allotmen
t

by cattle, elk, or deer continues to trample
and shear unprotected streambanks, springs, and wetlands.


Desired Condition:
Ensure the protection and maintenance of riparian and aquatic habitat as well
as upland springs and meadows. Maintain viable po
pulations of native and desired non
-
native
riparian and aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate species.


Flow Regimes

There are not any flow records or ga
u
ging stations for the perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral
draws in the allotment. For both the perenn
ial and intermittent channels, peak flows occur in the
spring during snowmelt. Springs along the perennial channels provide year
-
long flow.
Depending on water volume and channel bed material, flows may go subsurface by late summer.
Riparian area develop
ment marks the upstream extent of perennial flow and groundwater/spring
influences.


For the ephemeral draws, flows occur during rain
-
on
-
snow events or thunderstorms when the
precipitation rates exceed the soil infiltration and percolation rates. The
rimrock and shallow
rocky soils contribute to flashy flows as evidenced by the debris fans that form at most tributary
mouths. Due to the steep nature of these tributary channels, flows are routed directly through the
system with little water, sediment, o
r organic matter retention. There may be groundwater
connect within the ephemeral draws as indicated by shrub thickets.

Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

43

Sediment Regimes

Sediment is a pollutant of concern

in the Imnaha River
. The perennial allotment channels drain
directly into the Imna
ha River. Sediment regimes are discussed with hillslope erosion
in the Soil
Resources section of this document.


Because sediment accumulation is a demonstrated concern in both Big Sheep Creek and in the
Imnaha River sub watersheds subject to this analysi
s, fine sediment and embeddedness will be
used as indicators for effects to aquatic species and habitats in Big Sheep Creek and the Imnaha
River for analysis of Schleur management alternatives.



Water Quality and Nutrients

Nutrients are a water quality
pollutant of concern for the Imnaha River. The Schleur Allotment is
drained by loam soils and because nutrients often move from hillslopes to channels attached to
soil particles, an increased risk of soil erosion may increase the risk of nutrients moving
off the
allotment and into the Imnaha River
.

For nutrients to reach the Imnaha River there has to be
connection between the uplands, the allotment streams, and the Imnaha River.


Most of the land adjacent to the Imnaha River, Big Sheep Creek, and between

the allotment
boundary and the river is in private ownership. Use of the land includes ranching, farming
(primarily haying), winter feeding areas, and homesteads. Land use occurs to the banks and
within the floodplains of the Imnaha River and Big Sheep
Creek. Refer to the cumulative effects
discussion for additional analysis.


Stream temperature and dissolved oxygen does not appear to be an issue within the allotment.
Where perennial channels occur; they are shaded either topographically by steep inner

canyon
walls, canyon divides, or by a riparian canopy of tall shrubs or trees. Springs provide the
perennial streamflow. There is no intentional ponding of water within the perennial channels.

Imnaha River
-
The Imnaha River
throughout the Deer Creek sub
watershed

is a Rosgen B3

(
Rosgen 1996)

channel: cobble bottomed with a moderate gradient. Ban
k
ful
l
width is
approximately

50
-
60 feet in full spate during runoff
. Because of the channel width and north
-
south orientation of the channel, streamside vegetation has very little influence on stream
temperatures. Fine sediment/embeddedness accumulations in the watershed reflect the entire
landuse history within the wa
tershed above and within this reach as well as natural processes
within the upper watersheds and tributaries. Table
14

summarizes fish habitat ratings for these
factors for the river in the Deer Creek subwatershed below the Imnaha River pastures.


Big Shee
p Creek

-

Big Sheep Creek is a relatively steep A3/B3 channel throughout the Steer
Creek subwatershed. It transitions to a B3 channel (flatter gradient) in the Lower Little Sheep
Creek subwatershed, the gradient gradually becomes flatter and becomes more

susceptible to
aggradation and accumulation of fine sediment, particularly from the confluence of Little Sheep
Creek itself to Big Sheep’s confluence with the Imnaha River. Because of the north
-
south
orientation of the channel, streamside vegetation has
very little influence on stream temperatures.
Fine sediment/embeddedness accumulations in the Steer Creek subwatershed reflect the entire
landuse history within the Big Sheep watershed above and within this reach as well as natural
processes within the up
per watersheds and tributaries. Fine sediment/embeddedness
accumulations in the Lower Little Sheep subwatershed reflect these influences but also all the
natural processes and land use history within the Little Sheep Creek drainage (Table
15
).


S
ubstrate
conditions have previously been considered to be f
unctioning appropriately in the Steer
Creek

subwatershed based on stream inventory reports from 1991 and 1998 (USFS 1991, 1998).
This judgment is sti
ll appropriate based on the current 303(d) listing which

do not include
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

44


sediment

and likely is reflective of the steep gradients and associated stream velocities which
flush fines downstream into the Lower Little Sheep Creek subwatershed
.


Nutrient loading in Big Sheep Creek does not appear to be a concern, bas
ed on previous
Biological Assessments of existing conditions (USDA 1998b), and based on the current 303(d)
listings, which do not include nutrients or other chemicals. Refer to Table XX for more
information.


Table
1
4
. Indicators
selected
for existing
wa
ter quality c
onditions in the Imnaha River,
Deer Creek subwatershed.
*

Diagnostic or Pathway

Deer Creek

Temperature

FAUR
**

Sediment/Substrate

FAR

Chemical Contamination (includes nutrients).

FAR


*

Data sources: USDA 1998a, Hydrollogists report
-
project file)


**Pathway Ratings: FA=Functioning appropriately, FAR=functioning at risk, FAUR=functioning at

unacceptable risk. Criteria for assigning pathway ratings are pathway
-
specific and species
-
sp
ecific,
criteria for ratings.
Ratings at subwatershed
-
scale are based on averaged data from fish
-
bearing streams
within each subwatershed.


Table
15
. Indicators for existing water quality conditions in Big Sheep Creek, Steer and
Lower Little Sheep Creek
subwatersheds.*

Diagnostic or Pathway

Steer Creek

Lower Little Sheep Creek

Temperature

FAR
**

FAUR

Sediment/Substrate

FA

FAUR

Chemical Contamination.(includes nutrients)

FA

FA

*Data Sources: USDA, 1998b, hydrologists’s report
-
project file.

**Pathway Ratings: FA=Functioning appropriately, FAR=functioning at risk, FAUR=functioning at

unacceptable risk. Criteria for assigning pathway ratings are pathway
-
specific and species
-
specific,
criteria for ratings.
Ratings at subwatershed
-
scale are

based on averaged data from fish
-
bearing streams
within each subwatershed.


Connection to Fish Bearing Str
eams

The effects of authorizing grazing on the
SRAA was

analyzed in
a

Biological Evaluation. The
analysis area consists of the allotment, non
-
fishbearing tributaries draining the allotment, the
Imnaha River between College Creek and Big Sheep Creek confluences, Big Sheep Creek from
its confluence with the Imnaha River upst
ream approximately to the mouth of Lost Basin Creek,
and the three subwatersheds in which the allotment and these fish
-
bearing reaches are located
(Table

14 and 15
). The indicator used for this analysis will be limited to sediment delivery to the
sections

of the Imnaha River and Big Sheep Creek from non
-
fishbearing tributaries in the
allotment, and analyzed for effects to spawning and rearing habitat for listed and sensitive fish
and to potential habitat for sensitive mollusk species in those sections of B
ig Sheep Creek and the
Imnaha River within the specified subwatersheds.


A Biological Assessment (BA) will be prepared separately, as required by Section 7 of the
Endangered Species Act, for listed species or Critical Habitats with May Affect determinati
ons on
the Preferred Alternative. “May Affect” determinations in a Biological
Assessment

trigger more
in
-
depth analyses to determine the degree of risk to listed species and/or Critical Habitat, posed
by the preferred alternative for
this

allotment. Tabl
e
16

displays the effects determinations for
management alternatives.


Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

45

Table

16
. Biolo
gical
Assessment

determinations for
A
lternatives

within the SRAA

*MIIH = May Impact Individuals or Habitat, but Will
No
t Likely Contribute to a Trend t
oward Federal
Listing or Cause a Loss of Viability to the Popula
tion or Species. Activities or
actions that have effects that
are immeasurable, minor or are consistent with Conservation Strategies would receive this conclu
sion
(appl
ies to Sensitive species only). NI= No Impact, and
MA
, NLAA
=May Affect.
Not Likely to
Adversely Affect (For ESA
-
Listed species only),
NE=No Effect (Sensit
ive species only).


As reflected in Table
16
, Listed species were found to have either no

effect (ESA listed species
and their habitat), or no impact (Region 6 sensitive species and their habitat), with Alternative 1.
With Alternative 2 and 3, ESA listed species and their habitat were found to have a may affect
but not likely to adversely aff
ect call, and Region 6 sensitive species were found to have a may
impact individuals or habitat, but not likely contribute to a trend toward federal listing. These
calls are consistent with the past calls, and reflect the minor connectivity of sediment lo
ad in the
perennial streams of the Imnaha River pastures with the Imnaha River.


No other sensitive fish species are known to be present in the analysis area. Westslope cutthroat
are found in Idaho tributaries within the Hells Canyon National Recreation

Area, and white
sturgeon are found in the Snake River. Redband trout (the resident life history of
Oncorhynchus
mykiss
) is a Forest Plan Management Indicator Species for the Wallowa
-
Whitman, as is the
anadromous form of the same species, Steelhead. Effe
cts determinations for redband trout and
steelhead serve as MIS analyses for these species in this document. Two invertebrate mollusks
were recently added to the Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species List. They are: Shortface lanx
and the Western Ridged

Mussel, which are both species known or suspected to be present in
larger rivers in the Columbia River basin, such as the Imnaha or the Snake rivers. There are no
Proposed species for Listing under the Endangered Species Act within the analysis area.


A
quatic Species

This section provides a description of the legal status, species distribution, life history and habitat
requirements, condition and trend of populations, and habitat conditions for the species
considered in th
e

BE. Table
17

summarizes the s
ensitive and listed fish and aquatic invertebrate
species considered within the analysis area. Other sensitive fish species on the Regional
Forester’s Sensitive Species List are present or suspected on other parts of the Forest, but are
absent from the Im
naha River subbasin based on past surveys, per the Biological Evaluation
previously written for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area’s Comprehensive Management
Plan (USFS, 2002b). Maps of Snake River steelhead distribution in the Imnaha River basin
were
published in the federal register on September 2, 2005 (70FR52630).


The Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species List for Oregon and Washington was most recently
updated as of January 24, 2008, at which time the Western Ridged mussel and the Shortface Lanx
Species and Status

Schleur


Alternative 1

Alternative 2

Alternative 3

SRB Fall Chinook salmon (T)

NE*

NE

NE

SRB Spring/Summer Chinook salmon (T)

NE

MA
, NLAA

MA
, NLAA

SRB steelhead
(T, MIS)

NE

MA
, NLAA

MA
, NLAA

Columbia River bull trout (T)

NE

MA
, NLAA

MA
, NLAA

Interior redband trout (S)

NI

MIIH

MIIH

Designated Critical Habitat
-
salmon

NE

MA
, NLAA

MA
, NLAA

Designated Critical Habitat
-
steelhead

NE

MA
, NLAA

MA
, NLAA

Designated
Critical Habitat
-
bull trout

NE

MA
, NLAA

MA
, NLAA

Shortface lanx (S)

NI

MIIH

MIIH

Western Ridged Mussel (S)

NI

MIIH

MIIH

Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

46


were added to the Sensitive Species List for the Wallowa
-
Whitman Natio
nal Forest in Oregon
and were identified respectively as suspected or documented present on the Oregon portion of the
Forest. These two mollusk species would likely only occur in Big Sheep Creek if at all, as they
are only documented from the Snake River
and other medium to large rivers such as the North
and Middle Forks of the John Day River (Frest and Johannes 1995, Ramsey, pers. obs.).


Table
17
.

Aquatic S
pecies present or suspected
in Big Sheep Creek, within Steer and