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United States

Department of

Agriculture

Forest

Service

February

2010

Environmental
Assessment

Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Wallowa Valley Ranger District, and

Hells Canyon National
Recreation Area

Wallowa
-
Whitman National Forest


Wallowa County, Oregon




















Schleur

Rangeland Analysis

Environmental
Assessment


Wallowa County, Oregon

February

2010




Lead Agency

USDA


Forest Service


Responsible Official

Mary DeAguero, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area


Ken Gebhardt, Wallowa Valley District Ranger


Further Information

Kelly Birkmaie
r, Team Leader


Wallowa Valley Ranger District,


Hells Canyon National Recreation Area


Wallowa
-
Whitman National Forest


88401 Highway 82


Enterprise, OR 97828


(541) 426
-
5665



Abstract

This Environmental Assessment documents three alternatives analyzed
in detail for the Schleur Rangeland Analysis which is a proposal to
allocate forage for commercial livestock grazing on the Schleur
Allotment. The Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area is located
approximately 24 miles Southeast of Enterprise, Oregon. Alternat
ives
include Alternative 1 (no grazing), Alternative 2

(proposed action), and
Alternative 3 (current management). The preferred alternative is
Alternative 2 which would authorize grazing consistent with
LRMP

(1990)

and HC CMP (2003) standards and guidelin
es while
implementing specific protections for sensitive areas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the
basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex,
marital status, familial status,
parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or
part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases appl
y
to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program
information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720
-
2600
(voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discr
imination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400
Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250
-
9410, or call (800) 795
-
3272 (voice) or (202) 720
-
6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


i

Table o
f Contents


Chapter 1
-

Purpose and Need for Action

................................
................................
................................
.
1


Purpose and Need for Action

................................
................................
................................
....................
1

Proposed Action

................................
................................
................................
................................
........
5

Decision Framework

................................
................................
................................
................................
.
5

Analysis Area

................................
................................
................................
................................
............
5

Management Direction

................................
................................
................................
..............................
5

Analysis File

................................
................................
................................
................................
...........
10

Public Involvement

................................
................................
................................
................................
.
10

Issues

................................
................................
................................
................................
.......................
11


Chapter 2
-

Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
............................
12

Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
................................
.............
12

Alternative 1

................................
................................
................................
................................
........
12

Alternative 2

................................
................................
................................
................................
........
12

Alternative 3

................................
................................
................................
................................
........
16

Comparison of Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
....................
18

Mitigation Measures

................................
................................
................................
...............................
18

M
onitoring

Measures

................................
................................
................................
..............................
18



Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

................................
...............
21

Rangeland Resources
.

................................
................................
................................
.............................
21


Existing Condition

................................
................................
................................
..............................

22


Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

31

Aquatic and
Hydrologic Resources

................................
................................
................................
........

37

Existing Condition
................................
................................
................................
..............................

37

Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

49


Soil Resources

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

58


Existing Condition
................................
................................
................................
.............................

58

Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

66

Noxious Weeds

................................
................................
................................
................................
......

72

Existing Condition
................................
................................
................................
..............................

73

Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

77

Threatened, Endangered, or Sensitive Species
................................
................................
.......................

79

Existing Condition
................................
................................
................................
..............................

79

Alternatives

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

83

Wildlife Resources

................................
................................
................................
................................
.

90

Proposed Endangered Threatened or Sensitive Species

................................
................................
.....

90

W
-
WNF Management Indicator Species

................................
................................
...........................

94

Other Species of Interest

................................
................................
................................
..................

100

Specifically Required Disclosures

................................
................................
................................
.......

112


Chapter 4
-

Consultation and Coordination

................................
................................
........................

115


Appendix A


Issue Tracking from Scoping

................................
................................
........................

117


Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

ii

Appendix B
-

Standard operating Procedure and Annual Operating Instructions Discussions

.....

121


References

................................
................................
................................
................................
................

121


List of Tables

Table 1. LRMP (1990) Allowable Utilization Standards

................................
................................
............

17

Table 2. PacFish/InFish Allowable Utilization Guidelines

................................
................................
.........

18

Table 3. HC CMP Allowable Use Standards

................................
................................
...............................

18

Table 4.
Differences of Alternatives for the Schleur Allotment

................................
................................
..

18

Table 5.
Past, Present, and Foreseeable Future Actions

within the SRAA

................................
.................

21

Table 6.
Current

use for the Schleur Allotment
................................
................................
...........................

23

Table 7. Livestock Capacity to Current grazing Levels within the SRAA

................................
.................

25

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

...............

27

Table
9
. Results of C&T and EcoPlot Long Term Monitoring Plots for the SRAA

................................
...

28

Table
10.
Soil Stability Results for the SRAA

................................
................................
............................

30

Table 1
1
. SRAA Hydrologic Content

................................
................................
................................
..........

3
7

Table 1
2
. Listed water adjacent to or within one half mile of the SRAA

................................
...................

38

Table 1
3
.
Proper Functioning Condition

Summary for the SRAA

................................
.............................

41

Table 1
4
. Indicators for selected existing water quality conditions in the Imnaha River, Deer Creek



Subwatershed

................................
................................
................................
.............................

44

Table 1
5
. Indicators for selected existing water quality conditions in the Big Sheep Creek, Steer and


Lower Little Sheep Creeks Subwatershed

................................
................................
.................

44

Table 1
6
. Biological
Assessment

Determinations for Alternatives within the SRAA

................................

45

Table 1
7
. Aquatic Species present or suspected in Big Sheep Creek within the Steer and Lower



Little
Sheep subwatersheds, and in the Imnaha River within the Deer Creek sub watershed

...

46

Table 1
8
. SRAA effects on fish and fish habitat in Big Sheep Creek (Steer and Lower Little Sheep



Creeks
Subwatershed) and Imnaha River (Deer Creek Subwatershed) with Alternative 1

.......

50

Table 1
9
. SRAA effects on fish and fish habitat in Big Sheep Creek (Steer an
d Lower Little Sheep


Creeks

Subwatershed) and Imnaha River (Deer Creek Subwatershed) with


Alternatives 2 and 3
................................
................................
................................
...................

51

Table
20
. Aquatic and Hydrologic Effects and Measurements within SRAA

................................
...........

55

Table 2
1
. Unique Soils and Lands
capes within the SRAA

................................
................................
.........

58

Table 2
2
. Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health Assessment Summary for SRAA
..........................

62

Table 2
3.
Water Development, Spring, and Meadow Summary for SRAA

................................
................

63

Table 2
4
. Soil
Resource

Effects and Measurements Compared to No Change for the


Existing Condition

................................
................................
................................
......................

70


Table 25.
List of Forest Service Sensitive Plant Species with Potential to be found in the SRAA

............

80

Table 26. Acres of Modeled
Silene spaldingii

Habitat within the 3175 acres of SRAA

............................

81

Table 27. Cover and forage rat
io, road density, and hiding and thermal cover for the SRAA

....................

95

Table 28. Management objectives in the ODFW Snake River Big
-
Game Management Ares for



Estimated Population

of Elk

................................
................................
................................
.......

96

Table 29. Management objectives in the ODFW Imnaha Big
-
Game
Management Ares for


Estimated Population

of Elk

................................
................................
................................
......

96

Table 30
. Forest Condition and associat
ed habitat attributes and focal species for landbird




conservation in the SRAA

................................
................................
................................
.......

101

Table 31. Species Listed as ESA
-
listed sensitive, MIS species, other species of interest or
occurrence


within the SRAA

................................
................................
................................
.......................

105



iii

List of Figures

Figure 1. Example of the State and Transition Principles

................................
................................
............

2

Figure

1. Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area Vicinity Map

................................
................................
..........

6

Figure 2. Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area Imnaha River Pastures Map

................................
.................

14

Figure 3. Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area
Middle Point

Pasture Map

................................
....................

15

Figure 4. The Capability an
d Suitability for Cattle Grazing using the Sheep Grazing Protocol


within SRAA

................................
................................
................................
..............................

26



Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action

1

Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action


The Hells Canyon Area
Ranger and the W
allowa
-
Valley District Ranger are

proposing to
authorize livestock grazing on the Schleur Allotment.


The SRAA, (Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area),
is located within the Hells Canyon National
Recreation Area (HCNRA), and the Wallowa Valley

Ranger District

(WVRD)

south of the town
of Imnaha. The Imnaha River pastures, (College, Adams, Schleur and Spring Creek pastures),
within this allotment

are locate
d

east of the Imnaha River, between the
Middle Point
/Sheep Creek
Divide and the Hat Point
road, in Township 1 South, Range 48

East, Willamette Meridian. The
Middle Point

pasture is located on the top of the
Middle Point

Divide in Township 1 North,
Range 47 East, Willamette Meridian.



This

chapter begins with an explanation of the purpose and

need for action and a statement of the
proposed action
s

developed to meet that purpose and need. The chapter also addresses the
decision framework, outlines applicable management direction, and identifies the analysis area
and location of the analysis fi
le. The chapter closes by summarizing the scoping process.



Purpose and Need for Action


The Wallowa
-
Valley District Ranger

and the Hells Canyon Area Ranger have

identified a
purpose and need for forage allocation for commercial livestock grazing.



The

SRAA is located in both the HCNRA and the WVRD. T
he majority of the
Middle Point

pasture
, west of the Middle Point Divide,
is located in the
WVRD
;
and
the rest of the allotment is
located within the Hells Canyon NRA. As a result of the more defined goals
, objectives,
standards and guidelines presented within the Hells Canyon Comprehensive Management Plan
(HC CMP 2003), the Schleur Rangeland Analysis will tier to the HC CMP’s goals, objectives,
standards and guidelines for the entire project area.


The
HC

CMP,

(2003)
identifies “… a healthy ecosystem that is an integral component of a larger
biological region. Sustainability of ecological functions and processes is deemed important to
maintaining ecosystem health …” as key to area manag
ement
. The
HC CMP
(2003),

also states
“… manage grassland vegetation to ensure continued ecological function and sustainability of
native ecosyste
ms …”
.
Conceptually, this has been diagramed in Figure 1.
With the proposed
action for the Schleur
Rangeland Analysis Area,
the

goals,

objectives, standards, and g
uidelines
of
the HCNRA CMP will be followed. This conclusion can be found at the end of the Rangeland
Resources section of Chapter 3.


The purpose of and need for action is generated by the difference between existing conditions and
desired conditions for forage in the SRAA. Desired conditions are for states that exist before
system crosses a threshold (displayed as State A, B, and C in
Figure 1), and a static (State A), or
upward trend (State B or C) is identified (Stringham
et al
. 2003, Swanson and Johnson 2008)
.
Conditions are evaluated on an allotment
-
wide basis. This state and transition method is more
defined, but comparable to th
e LRMP (1990), rating for satisfactory range condition, where range
is in fair to good condition with static or upward trend.


With the correct management, the state of a system within B or C can move toward state A.
However, once weedy species are pres
ent within any state, it is almost impossible to remove the
Schleur Rangela
nd Analysis

Environmental Assessment

2

invasion without intensive management. Once an ecological site has crossed the threshold (State
D), it is impossible to return that community back across the threshold without intense restoration

practices.

Figure 1. Example of the State and Transition
P
rinciples

*Note: Some plant associations are considered to cross a threshold after State
B, making Sta
te C the threshold
crossed state.


Existing Condition


The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) Ranger and Wallowa Valley District
Ranger have identified a purpose and need for forage allocation for commercial livestock grazing.
This need for allocated forage is based on the gap between existing cond
itions and desired
conditions.


Historic records for the Upper Imnaha Area indicate that Native Americans grazed herds of wild
horses during the 1700s and 1800s. With the settlement of Europeans in the late 1800s, settlers
raised dryland and irrigated cr
ops on the more gentle terrain along the Imnaha River and used the
adjoining hill slopes for grazing of sheep, cattle, horses, and pigs. This intensive use of the
resource resulted in changes to grassland conditions that are still evident.


Forest Service

documentation about use of the area begins in the 1920s. At first, fencing was
limited, resulting in little control of livestock on and off of the present
-
day Schleur Allotment.
The agency began controlling grazing in the 1940s when grazing schedules an
d permitted grazing
numbers were established. A Range Management Plan was completed for this allotment in 1965.
This plan established livestock numbers, a specific grazing season, pasture divisions and
State A

Historic Climax
PC (Plant
Community)


State B

Disturbance
(
ex.grazing
) has
caused a change in
PC

State B

Disturbance (
ex.
Fire
) ha
s caused a
change in PC

State C

Further disturbance
has caused more
change in the Plant
Community, loss of
some State A species,
increase in weedy
species.

State C
1

Further disturbance
has caused more
change in the Plant
Community, loss of
some State A species,
increase in weedy
species.

State C
2

Further disturbance
has caused
more
change in the Plant
Community, loss of
some State A species,
increase in weedy
species.


State D
*

Threshold
crossed, loss of
most State A
species,
primarily weedy
Species

State A

Historic Climax
PC (Plant
Community)


State B1

Disturbance

(
ex.grazing
) has
caused a change in
PC

State B
2

Disturbance (
ex.
Fire
) has caused a
change in PC

Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action

3

allotment boundary fences. Condition and trend plot
s were also established, and an
understanding of the ecology of the area was incorporated into management of the allotments. In
2000, a deferred grazing system for the Imnaha River pastures was established. The detached
nature of the Middle Point Pasture

has allowed for ecological conditions much different from the
Imnaha River pastures. Because the area has limited water developments that are not productive
in drier years, the pasture has been grazed on a sporadic basis.


Existing rangeland conditions w
ithin the Imnaha River pastures of the SRAA reflect the intensive
homesteading, farming, and livestock grazing practices from the early 1900s. Controls on
livestock grazing from the 1960s to the present have allowed for some recovery of ecological
conditi
on, but only since 2000 have specific standards for rangeland recovery been incorporated
into management of the allotment. Rangeland condition in the Middle Point Pasture is less
influenced by historic grazing practices than the Imnaha River pastures.


In
formation provided in the Range Resources section of Chapter 3 supports a conclusion that on
an allotment
-
wide basis, rangeland conditions within the SRAA are satisfactory, primarily
because although conditions were degraded during the early homesteading e
ra, conditions are on
an upward trend. For the purposes of this analysis, satisfactory conditions are defined by state
and transition principles as shown in Figure 1. Based on analysis completed by Stringham
et al
.

(2003), Swanson and Johnson (2008), an
d Betelmeyer
et al
.

(2009), ecological conditions can be
described by states and transitions. An ecological site can be classified as occurring in one of
four different states (A through D) with a transition with respect to other states. A critical
defi
ning point is referred to as the threshold. In Figure 1, the threshold is shown with a dark line
between States C and D. Where a plant community has been altered to a State D, transition to a
State C is no longer possible without intensive restoration te
chniques such as tilling and reseeding
or widespread herbicide application. With correct management, the state of a system within B or
C can move toward state A.


Ecological sites in the Schleur Allotment occur within varying states. The gradient of stat
es tends
to correspond with elevation where State A communities occur at the highest elevations and State
D communities occur on the low
-
elevation benches. Approximately 95 percent of the allotment
is within States A, B, or C, where the plant communities
have not crossed a threshold.


Livestock grazing controls for the Imnaha River pastures have increased over time, but the most
recent practices of incidental grazing through the summer and the absence of a clear rest and
rotation system for these pasture
s appears to be decreasing the rate of recovery. The remaining
portion of the allotment consists of isolated areas at the lowest elevations and closest to the
private lands that are at State D where intensive use of the resource historically occurred and
annual species predominate. In contrast to the Imnaha River pastures, virtually all of the Middle
Point Pasture is at States A and B appears to have a static or upward transition.


Grazing of the Schleur Allotment has been conducted in consort with the pr
ivately owned lands
along the Imnaha River. Similar to many allotments in the Imnaha River corridor, the landowner
grazed the allotment in the spring and fall and often grazed the adjoining private land in the
winter. Hay pastures on the private land wer
e used for supplement feed in winter. As previously
described, this kind of operation has been in effect for years, and obviously predates
establishment of the HCNRA in 1975 by the HCNRA Act (Public Law 94
-
199). Grazing of the
Schleur Allotment qualifies

as an existing use under the act.


Permits for the Schleur Allotment consist of a term grazing permit and a private term grazing
permit for the private portions of the Imnaha River pastures. These permits have been issued on a
Schleur Rangela
nd Analysis

Environmental Assessment

4

10
-
year basis, with the mo
st recent permits issued under the authority of the Rescissions Act (PL
104
-
19). The act’s authority ends in 2016, upon which permits will not be issued until a NEPA
process is completed. Without a NEPA process for the SRAA, existing permits would not be

reissued upon their expiration, and livestock grazing would eventually be discontinued.



Desired Conditions


Desired conditions are defined by management direction.
The SRAA is located in the HCNRA
except for the westerly portion of the
Middle Point

Pas
ture, which is in the Wallowa Valley
Ranger District (WVRD). Direction for livestock management in the HCNRA is provided by the
Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) and direction for livestock management in the WVRD
is provided by the Forest Plan. Managem
ent direction for livestock grazing is more restrictive in
the CMP. Because the
Middle Point

Pasture is managed as one unit, management direction for
the entire pasture will be guided by the CMP.


The CMP
identifies a desired condition for
grassland
veget
ation that ensures continued ecological
function and sustainability of native ecosystems. The CMP further directs managers to maintain
and/or restore the ecological status of grassland communities to their Potential Natural
Community recognizing their His
toric
Range of Variability and that the potential for some
communities may be altered (Page C
-
31
-
32
). Conceptually, this desired condition is shown in
Figure 1. Where
ecological sites

in State A,
are
manage to maintain this state. Where
ecological
sites

in States B or C,
are
manage
d

to transition toward State A

(Stringham
et al
.
2003, Swanson
and Johnson 2008, and Bestelmeyer
et al
. 2009)
.

In situations where
ecological sites

have
crossed a threshold, restoration through livestock management is not pos
sible. These lands are in
unsatisfactory condition, and would not be allocated to the allotment’s carrying capacity, but
domestic use may still b
e permitted (CMP, Page C
-
44
).


The Schleur Allotment was allocated by the CMP to Management Area 10 (Forage Pr
oduction).
As previously described, the western portion of the
Middle Point

Pasture is within the WVRD,
but management of the pasture will defer to standards for the included HCNRA portion of the
pasture. Direction for Management Area 10 is to provide maximum forage production with
ranges maintained in satisfactory condition. T
he allotment is adjacent to the Imnaha Wild and
Scenic River, which is allocated to Management Area 7.


The CMP provides an objective for traditional and valid uses by directing managers to continue
uses such as livestock grazing as traditional and valid
uses of the HCNRA, compatible with
Sections 7 and 13 of the HCNRA Act so long as these activities are managed to meet the goals,
objectives, standards, and guidelines of the CMP (Page C
-
6).


The gap between existing and desired conditions is two
-
fold. In
the case of ecological condition
for the Imnaha River pastures, the rate of recovery or transition for plant communities in States B
or C may be suppressed by a grazing system that allows incidental grazing during the summer
and the absence of clear rest a
nd rotation for the Imnaha River pastures. The second gap would
occur if action is not taken to issue grazing permits for the Schleur Allotment. An existing use as
described in Section 7 of the HCNRA Act would not continue, resulting in an incompatibilit
y
with this section.



Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action

5

Proposed Action


The HC NRA and the Wallowa Valley District Ranger
s

proposes to authorize continued grazing
on the Schleur Allotment. The AMP, (Allotment Management Plan) that emerges from this
analysis would be implemented in Sprin
g 2011. The proposed action is represented by
Alte
rnative 2 in Chapter 2 of this
EA.



Decision Framework


The decision framework refers to the nature of the decision that will be made by the HCNRA

Area R
anger

and the
WVRD District

Ranger based on the a
nalysis contained in this document
and the comments submitted during the public review and comment period for this
Environmental Assessment. The decision framework does not describe the actual content of the
District Rangers pending decision.


At the conc
lusion of the public

review and comment period, both the Area and District Rangers
will decide whether to implement management of the SRAA as proposed, to implement
management in a modified fashion, or not to implement management at all. The Rangers


deci
sion will also determine if the project might require an amendment of the
LRMP

(1990)

or
HC CMP (2003). Implementation of the decision is anticipated in spring of 2011.


A
Decision Notice accompanies the
Environmental Assessment (
EA), and identifies the s
elected
alternative. Selection of alternatives will be based on

the analysis contained in the
EA, including
factors such as how the alternatives: meet the purpose of and need for action, consider the
environmental effects, comply with the
LRMP

(1990)

and
HC CMP (2003), and respond to
public comments.



Analysis Area


The
SRAA

is located approximately 24 miles southeast of

Enterprise, Oregon, within the

Hells
Canyon National Recreation Area and the Wallowa Valley Ranger District of the Wallowa
-
Whitman Natio
nal Forest. The analysis area encompasses approximately
3,157
acres of National
Forest and interspersed private land
, and includes

portions of the Big Sheep Creek
-
Steer

Creek
Watershed
, and Imnaha River
-
Deer Creek Watershed
.
The rangeland analysis area i
s currently
managed under one livestock

term and private land

grazing

permit
.

Please refer to Figure 2 for a
vicinity map of the Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area.



Management Direction


Management direction is derived from the LRMP (1990) and HC CMP (2003) as amended, which
incorporates PacFish, InFish, the Wallowa
-
Whitman Integrated Noxious Weed Management
Plan, and the
Regional Invasive Species Plan.

The SRAA Environmental Assessment

t
iers

to the
following analyses: LRM
P EIS, HC CMP EIS, PacFish EA,
and
Pacific Northwest Invasive
Species Program EIS
.


Schleur Rangela
nd Analysis

Environmental Assessment

6

Figure

2
. Schleur Rangeland Analysis Area Vicinity Map



Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action

7

Standards and Guidelines



LRMP

The
LRMP

(1990)
, (as amended) provides goals,

objectives, and standards and guidelines for
livestock grazing management within the SRAA.


1)

Forage production in excess to that needed for the health of the plant and soil resources
will be made available for harvest by wildlife and domestic livestock wit
hin the forage
and browse utilization standards and guidelines from the
LRMP

(1990)
(Pages. 4
-
51 and
52).


2)

Give management and enhancement of water quality, protection of watercourses and
streamside management units, and fish habitat priority over uses desc
ribed or implied in
all other management standards or guidelines (Page 4
-
22).


3)

Manage riparian areas so as to avoid measurably increasing water temperatures on Class I
streams. On Class II streams, management will limit temperature increases to the criter
ia
in State standards (Page 4
-
23).


4)

Mitigate negative impacts causing reduction in water quality to return water quality to
previous levels in as short a time as possible (Page 4
-
23).


5)

Enhance streambank vegetation where it can be effective in improving
channel stability
or fish habitat (Page 4
-
23).


6)

Give areas in which water quality or channel stability are being adversely impacted high
priority for treatment to minimize the effects of the impact or to correct the impacting
activity (Page 4
-
23).


7)

Habitat
s will be protected and managed for the perpetuation and recovery of Proposed,
Endangered, Threatened and Sensitive species (Page 4
-
30).


8)

Management will strive for maintenance of native and desirable introduced or historical
plant and animal species, and
will provide for all seral stages in abundance and
distribution (Page 4
-
1).


9)

Habitat will be provided for viable populations of existing native and desirable non
-
native vertebrate wildlife species (Page 4
-
2).


10)

Consider the effects of all Forest Service und
ertakings on significant cultural resources
and avoid or mitigate any adverse effe
cts (Page 4
-
20).


11)

All environmental analyses conducted under NEPA for ground
-
disturbing activities will
consider noxious weed
management (Integrated Noxious Weed Management P
lan,
Decision Notice, Page.2).


12)

All projects incorporate noxious weed prevention strategies
(Integrated Noxious Weed
Management Plan, Appendix D, Page 79).


Schleur Rangela
nd Analysis

Environmental Assessment

8

13)

GM
-
1 Modify grazing practices (e.g. accessibility of riparian areas to livestock, length of
grazing

season, stocking levels, timing of grazing, etc.) that retard or prevent attainment
of Riparian Management Objectives (PacFish, Appendix C).


14)

GM
-
3 Limit livestock trailing, bedding, watering, salting, loading, and other handling
efforts to those areas and

times that will not retard or prevent attainment of Riparian
Management Objectives or adversely affect inland native fish (PacFish, Appendix C).


HC CMP

The HC CMP
(2003
)

provides objectives, and standards and guidelines for livestock grazing
management within the SRAA.


1)

Gra
-
O1:
Manage grassland vegetation to ensure continued ecological function and
sustainability of native ecosystems. Maintain and/or restore the
ecological status of
grassland communities to their PNC
, (potential natural community),
recognizing their
HRV

(historical range of variability)
.


2)

Gra
-
O2:
Develop management plans for all active grazing allotments which address
identified issues and compati
bility with the provisions of the
H
CNRA Act.


3)

Gra
-
O3:
Evaluate rangeland capability and suitability, and present rangeland condition or
ecological status in relation to PNC.


4)

Gra
-
O4: E
v
aluate annual impacts associated

with livestock grazing in relation to
established standards and thresholds.


5)

Gra
-
S2:
Satisfactory condition will b
e evaluated d
u
ring the allotment management
p
l
a
nning process. The minimum
condition

and trend
standards must
be met for
rangelands to be considered as satisfactory.


a.

Rangeland ve
getation in both uplands and riparian habitats will be in mid seral
ecological status with an upward trend or higher condition based on PNC.


b.

Soils, this includes soil surface conditions and soil stability will be in a mid
-
seral
ecological status with an
upward trend or higher condition based on PNC.


c.

Riparian hardwood age class will be in a mid
-
seral ecological status with an
upward trend or higher condition based on PNC.


d.

Riparian hardwood form class distributions show no mor
e than 35 percent in
moderate lo
ng
-
term browsing impact class.


For those sites identified in unsatisfactory condition, management practices will be
designed to improve ecological status to a satisfactory condition. For sites in a
satisfactory condition, management practices

will maintain or improve the ecological
status.


Where rangeland resources are in an
unsatisfactory

condition,
livestock

grazing may
continue if t
he rate of recovery is within 7
0

percent of the
natural

rate of recovery
.


Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action

9

6)

Gra
-
S3:
Allotment management plans (AMPs) would establish site
-
specific rates of
recovery to achieve the goals for ecological statues, soil conditions, and riparian
management objectives in conjunction with other applicable resource standards and
guidelines contai
ned in this management plan when determining appropriate livestock
stocking levels.


7)

Gra
-
G1:
Emphasize enhancement and/or restoration of potential native vegetation.


8)

Gra
-
G2:
Incorporat
e management considerations in (Johnson and Simon 1987), and
(Crowe a
nd Clausnitzer 1997), or other FS approved guides, score cards or keys.


9)

Gra
-
S4:
When determining carrying capacity and range management objectives during
th
e AMP process
, include other uses such as wildlife, TE and

S species, recreation stock,
prescribe
fire
, ecological goals, and outfitter and guide activities

as specified in the
HCNRA Act.


10)

Gra
-
S5:
Implement grazing management practices to minimize the potential for transport
of invasive plant propagates or seeds, or creation of habitats suitable for establishment of
invasive species.


11)

Gra
-
G3:
During the allotment planning process evaluate periodic
rest and deferred
rotations grazing systems.


12)

Gra
-
G4:
Where feasible and desirable, plan and implement restoration projects to
improve the health and sustainability of HCNRA grasslands, where current ecological
conditions are mid
-

or earlier
-
seral status.



13)

Gra
-
S7:
Range improvements would be designed and located to minimize their impact on
wilderness, scenic, heritage, fish, wildlife, unique botanical, and other resources.



Pacific Northwest Invasive Species Program EIS

Applicable Regional wee
d manageme
nt guidelines are
incorporated into this project

through the
Regional EIS / ROD’s (USFS PNRIPP 2005) amendment of the WWNF
LRMP

(1990)
.

There
are 23 standards for prevention, treatment and restoration associated with the Regional weed EIS
ROD. All will be followed, however, below are the most applicable to range projects (outside of
standards governing the actual treatment actions):


1.

Prevention of invasive plant introduction, establishment and spread will be addressed in
watershed analysis; roads analysis; fire and fuels management plans, Burned Area
Emergency Recovery Plans; emergency wildland fire situation analysis; wildland fire

i
mplementation plans; grazing allotment m
anagement plans, recreation management
plans, vegetation management plans, and other land management assessments.


2.

Use only pelletized or certified weed free feed on
all National Forest

System lands.

If
state cert
ified weed free feed is not available, individual Forests should require feed
certified to be weed free using North American Weed Free Forage Program standards or
a similar certification process. Choose weed
-
free project staging areas, livestock and
packho
rse corrals, and trailheads.


Schleur Rangela
nd Analysis

Environmental Assessment

10

3.

Use available administrative mechanisms to incorporate invasive plant prevention
practices into rangeland management. Examples of administrative mechanisms include,
but are not limited to, revising permits and grazing
allotment management plans,
providing annual operating instructions, and adaptive management. Plan and implement
practices in cooperation with the grazing permit holder.


4.

Prioritize infestations of invasive plants for treatment at the landscape, watershed
or
larger multiple forest/multiple owner scale.


Analysis File


The analysis file that supports this Environmental Assessment is available at the Wallowa
Mountains Office

in Enterprise, Oregon.


Public Involvement

Scoping


Public scoping for the SRAA was i
nitiated in
April, 2009

with the project's inclusion on the
quarterly Schedule of Proposed Actions. In May 2009, a letter describing the proposed action
was mailed to 30 individuals, organizations, and agencies for their comment. These individuals
and or
ganizations included grazing permittees,
tribal representatives,
State and Federal resource
management agencies, and other special interest organizations.


The permittee holding the g
razing permits

on this allotment

was
included throughout the process.
These scoping efforts generated responses from

three

organizations, tribes, or individuals.
Responses are documented in
four

letters, as well as several e
-
mails, telephone conversation
records, and meeting notes.


To clarify the concerns, follow
-
up teleph
one conversations, meetings, a field trip, and e
-
mails
were made between the Interdisciplinary Team and those who submitted comments. Much of the
correspondence focused on what information should be provided in the EA. Information obtained
from the scopi
ng process is contained in the SRAA Project File, and Appendix A of this
document.


Responses expressed a wide variety of opinions about the proposed action and information to be
disclosed in the EA. Many of the concerns raised in responses could be addr
essed in the EA by
providing additional information. Appendix A summarizes the scoping responses and describes
where in the EA these concerns were addressed.


Consultation with Tribes


Contacts were made throughout the analysis process with staff members
of the Nez Perce Tribe.
Meetings were held in the office and in the field to discuss the relationship between livestock
grazing and Tribal Treaty Rights. The following meetings contained dialog specific to the
Chapter 1


Purpose and Need for Action

11

Schleur

Allotment. These meetings are supplemented by numerous contacts through electronic
mail and by telephone.




As this project was initially part of the
UIRA, (
Upper Imnaha Rangeland Analysis
)
, a field
trip

on August 8, 2008

for the UIRA included the Schleur Allotment. T
ribal s
taff

and HCPC

were represented
. During this field trip, the Schleur Allotment was

reviewed
and discussed.





An update and overview of the project and project status was given on July 14, 2009 for tribal

staff members at the quarterly staff
-
to
-
staff coordination meeting.




A field trip with tribal staff members was held on July 30, 2009 to review the project area of
the Mink Allotment, discussions were held about the Schleur Allotment.




An update on the pr
oject status was given on October 14, 2009 for tribal staff members at the
quarterly staff
-
to
-
staff coordination meeting.


Issues


The Forest Service found only non
-

significan
t issues within the S
RAA. Non
-
significant issues
were identified as those: 1) o
utside the scope of the proposed action; 2) already decided by law,
regulation,
LRMP

(1990)
, or other higher level decision; 3) irrelevant to the decision to be made;
or 4) conjectural and not supported by scientific or factual evidence. The Council on Env
iron
-
mental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations require this delineation in Sec. 1501.7, “…identify and
eliminate from detailed study the issues which are not significant or which have been covered by
prior environmental review (Sec. 1506.3)…”

Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

12


Chapter 2
-

Alternatives

This chapter describes and compares the alternatives considered for the
S
RAA
. This section also
presents the alternatives in comparative form, and sharply defines the differences between each
alternative.



Alternatives


Alternative 1


No Action

Under the No Action alternative, the current permit for the SRAA would not be reissued upon
expiration. Livestock grazing would no longer be authorized within the SRAA.

The range developments currently in existence on the allotment would be abandoned.
S
ubsequent NEPA decisions would need to be made regarding retention of any improvements,
(such as water developments) for other resource needs, and funding for maintenance would need
to be secured. The Permittee would be reimbursed for his amortized share
of cooperative range
improvements where he participated in the development (FSH 1109.13 Chapter 70). Allotment
exterior boundary fences would be assigned to adjacent permittees and private landowners for
continued maintenance. Any restoration activities
proposed in the other Alternatives would not
occur unless a subsequent NEPA discussion was made, and funding secured.


The Term Private Land Grazing Permit
associated with is allotment
would
not be reissued upon
its expiration
. If the private landowner w
anted to continue grazing the associated private lands,
the landowner would be obligated to fence the boundaries or to otherwise ensure that their
livestock would not trespass on

NFS lands.


Alternative 2

The Proposed Action

Grazing System
-

The grazing sy
stem for Alternative 2 is described below. Additional
components of Alternative 2 are included in Mitigation and Monitoring
in this Chapter.

Refer to
Figures 2 and 3 for maps of the allotment. Allotment boundaries and topographical
characteristics of t
he allotment are used to describe the proposed actions.


This alternative authorizes 360 head months
, ((number of livestock x number of days) /30),

to
graze between the dates of April 15 and November 30 annually.


The grazing system would be
rest rotation

where in cattle are rotated through two Imnaha River pastures one year and the other
two Imnaha River pastures to following year. This Alternative allows for the optional fall
grazing
, in the same two pastur
es as grazed the spring before,

if resource con
ditions are adequate,
including soil and vegetation conditions,
and there is not a risk for pine needle abortion for the
livestock.


Range management strategies as described
within this Chapter, and
will be employed to aid in
livestock distribution in
the upper areas of the Imnaha River pastures as needed to address any
resource concerns. Specifically, since t
he upper portion of the College Creek pasture consists of
later seral vegetation, a wide valley bottom,
c
attle would be encouraged to utilize for
age in the
Chapter 2
-

Alternatives

13

upper reaches of the College Creek pasture when the soils are dry, and on a
rest rotation
schedule
as explained above.


T
he upper portions of the Spring, Schleur and Adams Creek pastures are in a later seral
vegetative stage. The slopes in the
se upper portions are
also
steep
. Grazing livestock
would be
challenging from a utilization an
d water availability standpoint, therefore c
attle would not be
encouraged to utilize these steep uplands. Incid
ental grazing may occur with this

rest rotation

g
razing
schedule


Due to changing
weather cycles
in Northeast Oregon
, many of the water developments located
within the
Middle Point

pasture have gone dry. This pasture is also in very good
ecological
condition. For these reasons,
this alternative

will p
ropose that the
permittee
have optional use
,

dependent on water availability in any given year.

As NEPA analysis is completed on adjacent
allotments, adaptive management could allow for an exchange of head months between the
Middle Point

pasture and other

allotments or pastures. This would allow the
Middle Point

pasture
to be reserved as a grass bank, or

may lead to the

incorpora
tion of this pasture

into another
allotment
.


There are two
water
developments
that are historic

which will be maintained to preserve value.


Small hillside wetland
s are unusual in this landscape,

and

one has been identified within this
allotment. P
rotection
for this site
is proposed through either the use of fencing or the
rest

rotation
schedule.



In the College Creek pasture there is a concern of increased sediment yields into College Creek
from
a

longitudinal riparian trailing system. Cattle and wild ungulate utilize a trail network to
access water. The proposed action would identify two or t
hree water access points along College
Creek

and restore the rest of the trailing system
.
Refer to the Mitigation and Design Features
section of this chapter for more information.


Annual
Rotation of Cattle


The

movement of livestock would

annually follow this rotation:
Graze in
two of the
Imnaha River pastures for one month in spring, then rotate to the
Middle
Point

pasture or private land (pending condition), for one month. If the cattle are trailed to the
Middle Point

pasture, they wou
ld not cross any fish
-
bearing streams. Once the cattle are removed
from the
Middle Point

pasture, they
would be removed from the allotment until fall. At that time,
the cattle would be returned to the same two
Imnaha River pastures
. In the second year, t
he same
rotation would occur but with two different Imnaha River pastures.
As with the Imnaha River
pastures fall use, t
he Middle Point pasture would only be used when resource conditions are
adequate including water availability and soil conditions.














Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

14


Figure

3
.
Schleur

Rangeland Analysis Area

Imnaha River Pastures Map





Chapter 2
-

Alternatives

15

Figure

4
.
Schleur

Rangeland Analysis Area

Middle Point

Pasture Map






Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

16


Alternative 3


Current Management

Alternative 3 represents continuation of the current management strategy as developed over
the
years through AGIs (Annual G
razing Instructions). Alternative 3
or current management
includes

agreements with National Marine Fisheries Service to define autho
rized grazing
, and
also follows the standards and guidelines of the LRMP (1990),
and T
he

Pacific Northwest Region
Invasive Plant Program (PNRIPP), for P
reventing and
Managing Invasive P
lants

(USFS 2005).
The alternative requires the permittee to achieve pr
oper livestock distribution through herding and
salting techniques and maintenance of existing water developments and fencing. The alternative
does not adopt any of the changes in the grazing schedules, nor restoration practices described for
Alternative 2
.


This alternative autho
rizes 360 head months to graze

at various times throughout a grazing year
between the dates of
April 15

through November 30
.
Traditionally, this has included grazing
bulls throughout the summer months in the Imnaha River pasture
s. The grazing practices under
this alternative do not include rest rotation, and therefore grazing occurs in all of the Imnaha
River pastures annually. The
level of authorized used would be similar to levels that have been
authorized in the most recent
annual grazing instructions.


Restoration of the trailing system in College Creek, and consideration of the wetland site in the
College Creek pasture will not be considered with this alternative.



Activities Common to Alternatives 2 and 3


Range
Improvements

-

The permittee is responsible for maintaining fences and the water
development(s) on the allotment.


Range Management Strategies



Range management strategies that are based on range science,
and are incorporated into the Allotment Manage
ment Plans

and Annual Operating Instruction
s.
These strategies are
specific to each allotment
/pasture and
to
the
r
esource needs of a given year.
The objective behind these strategies is to manage healthy plant communities in mid to late seral
stage with
an upward trend. These objectives are met through an ongoing monitoring and
adjustment processes. Monitoring is completed through identification of key areas and
establishment of utilization guidelines.
Management strategies are subject to change
s

in res
ponse
to resource conditions, c
limate, listed species, or
LRMP

(1990) and HC CMP (2003) guidance.
Range management strategies applicable to Alternatives 2 and 3 include the following:




Rest or defer grazing in pastures as needed to respond to climatic or
resource changes.




Use salt placement and herding to improve distribution of livestock throughout pastures and
allotment.




To reduce cattle impacts on riparian vegetation and stream channels, permittees will not place
salt for livestock within ¼
-

mile of
riparian areas.




To reduce cattle impacts on riparian vegetation and stream channels, low stress livestock
handling techniques will be used to retrain livestock to limit the length of time livestock
Chapter 2
-

Alternatives

17

spend in riparian areas. Permittees will regularly move
cattle that are congregating in riparian
area to areas away from the stream. The optimum time to begin riding is around mid
-
day
when cattle have drifted to the stream for water.




When water resources are low
,
consider ha
uling water
or mo
ving cattle
or off

pastures or
forest.




Incorporate utilization standards and guidelines from the
LRMP

(1990),

(Pages 4
-

52 and 53),
and HC C
M
P

(2003), (C
-
48 through C
-
49), into the Allotment Management Plans and
Annual Operating Instructions. The information in Table
s 1,
2, and
3 indicate the amount of
the available forage which may be used by the end of the grazing season and are used for
allotments where a moderate level of fencing and water developments are present. Livestock
are removed from the allotment before these

standards are exceeded.

If, through analysis,
rangeland is found to be in an ‘unsatisfactory condition” then percent of forage grazed will be
less as described in Table 1.


To assist the permittee and range administrators in implementing the utilization

standards,
forage weight
-
height curves, which explain the height of vegetation compared to the amount
consumed, were developed for use at the Wallowa Mountains Office of the Wallowa
-
Whitman National Forest (refer to the analysis file).


Table

1.
LRMP

(1990)

Allowable Utilization Standards

Range condition

Riparian

Upland

Grass and grass
-
like species

Shrubs

Grass and grass
like
species

Shrubs

Forested

Grasslands


Satisfactory

45

percent

40

percent

45

percent

55

percent

45

percent

Unsatisfactory

0
-
35

percent

0
-
30

percent

0
-
35

percent

0
-
35

percent

0
-
30

percent


PacFish guidelines were incorporated into the
LRMP

(1990)

which state that grazing will be
managed in a manner that does not prevent the attainment of Riparian Management
Objectives. These standards were interpreted in the Region 6 PacFish Grazing Guideline
Revis
ion memo dated August 14, 1995,
and the PacFish/I
nFish Monitoring Guidelines for the
Wallowa
-
Whitman Grazing Program dated May 6, 1996. Allowable utilization guidelines for
riparian vegetation were established by these memos as shown in Table XX. Additional
stubble heights are required to be left ungra
zed where riparian conditions are unsatisfactory.
These end
-
of season objectives have been created to aid the Forest Service in meeting the
PacFish Standard GM
-
1.


Timing



The timing of livestock placement or movement is estimated in the description of
alternatives. However, timing varies each year based on factors such as range readiness, climatic
fluctuations, utilization standards, and resource conditions. Use would not begin earlier than two
weeks before the established season nor end more than two

weeks after the established season.
Utilization standards and resource conditions then determine livestock placement or movement
within the grazing season.




Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

18


Table
2.

PacFish / InFish Allowable Utilization Guidelines

Range condition
-

Riparian conditio
n

Riparian

Grass and Grass
-
like Greenline

Sedge and Rush
Sinks

Kentucky Bluegrass/
Mixed Species

Satisfactory


Proper
Functioning Condition

4 inches

3 inches

2 inches

Unsatisfactory


Functioning at Risk or
Nonfunctioning

6 inches

4 inches

4 inches


Table
3.

HC CMP Allowable Use Standards

Season of Use

Grasslands

Vegetation Type

Other Specifications

Fall/Winter

60 Percent*

Key Species


Early Spring

60 Percent

Cool Season Vegetation

Adequate moisture in soil
for re
-
growth

Late Spring

Same as LRMP
(1990)




* This is the percent utilization allowed based on height
-
weigh curves of desired species.



Comparison of Alternatives


This section provides of the differences between the alternatives. Information in the table is
focused on activities wh
ere differences can be distinguished quantitatively or qualitatively among
alternatives


Table
4
.
Differences of Alternatives for the
Schleur

Allotment

Action
*

Alternative 1

Alternative 2

Alternative 3

Season of Use

N/A

April
-
November

April to
November

Head Months

N/A

240
-
360**

240
-
360

Grazing System

N/A

Rest Rotational

Annual same season


Bull Use

N/A

None outside of spring/fall grazing dates

Throughout the summer

Restoration





College Creek

N/A

Streambank Restoration

N/A

Wetland Site

N/A

Rest
and possible other actions

N/A

Monitoring

N/A

Increased Monitoring to ensure
compliance

Same as current level

*

Alternative 1 would not authorize cattle grazing after the expiration of the Term Grazing Permit,
Alternative 2 would incorporate the
proposed actions, and Alternative 3 is the continuation of current
management.


** 360 includes the use of the
Middle Point

pasture



Mitigation
Measures


Mitigation measures pertinent to the action alternative are listed below. Mitigation measures
address potential impacts by avoiding adverse impacts, minimizing adverse impacts by limiting
activities, or rectifying adverse impacts through rehabilitation.
Other measures proposed for the
Chapter 2
-

Alternatives

19

SRAA are located in Appendix B and represent Standard Operating Procedures and Annual
Operation discussions.


Mitigation Measures Specific to Alternative 2




The condition of
the
small hillslope wetland
will be
addressed

through
the
rest
rotation
schedule

as described in the Alternative 2

section of this chapter,
or

if further action is
needed the condition

and actions

will be addressed in the Annual Operating Instructions.




The College Creek

access points w
ill be chosen

at naturally

hardened site
s.

All unneeded
access points would be closed and physically blocked to discourage cattle use. Blocking
materials would include
those found

on
-
site such as brush, logs and/or rocks.




Base stocking rates on the bench/footslope ac
res, slopes less than 30 percent, not on the total
allotment acres (Loeser
et al
.

2007). Do not encourage cattle to use the rimrock and
interslope areas of the allotment
in order
to maintain plant diversity, protect soils on steep
slopes, and account for
wildlife use of these areas.




There are two developments that are historic. The proposed action is to keep water in the
troughs to maintain and preserve the historic nature of the developments. If new
developments are placed at these locations, the permi
ttee will be required to continue running
water through the old trough(s), and to place the new
troughs

in a manner that will protect the
old ones
.




Should wildlife pass through this allotment, rest pastures where known
Carex cordillerana

populations have burned
-
over for two full grazing seasons to protect these sites form grazing
impacts. Determination of the pastures to be rested and rest length will be determined by the
Botanist and Range Specialist.




Conduct fresh botanical surveys a
round the identified water sources in the Middle Point
pasture during the first season of use, for the pasture after this decision is signed.



Monitoring

Measures


The following monitoring is needed to keep

grazing
impacts at acceptab
le levels while movi
ng
range condition

toward
desired conditions. This monitoring

would be applied to the project as it
is

implemented on

the ground
. Listed below are the proposed monitoring techniques for this
allotment.



Monitoring Common to Alternative 2 and 3




Complete
end of season utilization monitoring annually at the selected key areas
, details of
monitoring locations and types of monitoring to be completed will be explained within the
Allotment Management Plan and the Annual Operating Instructions.
Bank alteration w
ill also
be monitored during end of season monitoring by the Forest Service. This monitoring will
occur for five years at which time the riparian areas will be re
-
evaluated for trend.
Monitoring
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

20


will ens
ure that the standards and guidelines of the CMP, LR
MP, and PACFISH are met.
Failure to do so could result in permit action.




Permittee will become familiar with streambank alteration monitoring techniques in order to
recognize when triggers are reached, and livestock need to be moved.
This will
further
help
to ensure that standards and guidelines are met.




Weed Specialist will complete annual m
onitoring on known invasive weed
sites, and will
ensure that weed invasion is not increasing on the allotment. If weeds are found to have
increased numbers, then

increased treatment will also be used.



Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

21

Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental



Consequences


Chapter 3 describes the environment and environmental consequences
as described by the
existing conditions, direct, indirect, and cumulative effects
relevant to this analysis. It focuses on
the resources that are relevant
to or affected by the scope of the analysis: range, botanical, soils,
aquatic

and hydrology, wildlife
, and specially designated areas. The chapter concludes with a
discussion of specifically required disclosures. The analysis in this chapter is derived f
rom
researched history, specialist reports, and biological evaluations contained in the analysis file.


Cumulative effects are analyzed in this chapter. Each resource area identifies the specific actions
and activities that were considered to overlap with

the direct and indirect effects of the proposal
and alternatives. For Alternative 1, evolution of the baseline condition is described, but because
no action would be taken, this change is not referred to as “cumulative effects”. A full
cumulative effect
s analysis was then prepared for the proposed action and alternatives,
specifically Alternatives 2 and 3. The actions and activities considered for cumulative effects are
shown in the following table.


Table
5.

Past, Present and Foreseeable Future Actions

within the S
RAA

Vicinity

Project or
Activity Name
(Year of NEPA
Decision)

Description

Status

Noxious Weed
Inventory and
Treatment

(ongoing)

Treating known noxious weed patches by
Utilizing integrated weed
management techniques including manual,
biological, cultural,
herbicide, competitive seeding.

Includes implementation of the
Region 6 Invasive Species Record of Decision.

Ongoing

Noxious Weed
Treatment
(projected 2010)

Treating new sites of noxious weed patches as approved by the WW
Invasive
Species EIS.

Proposed

Private Land
Grazing

Private permitted land will be managed following standards and
guidelines. Lands outside of the permits may contribute to
ecological conditions within the allotment.

Ongoing

Regulation of
Hunting Seasons

ODFW
regulations of tag
s for the Imnaha

and Snake

Unit
s

Ongoing

Wildfire and
Prescribe Fire

Because the developments along the Imnaha River makes the
introduction of prescribe fire difficult, it is assumed that fire
-
related
activities are limited to full
suppression efforts

Ongoing

To understand the contribution of past actions to the cumulative effec
t
s of the propo
sed

action
and alternatives, this analysis relies on current environmental conditions as a proxy for the
impac
t
s of
past actio
n
s
. This is bec
ause existing conditions reflect the aggregate impact of all

prior human actio
n
s and natural e
vents that have affected the environments and might contribute
to cumulative effects.


This cumulative effects analysis does not attempt to quantify the effects
of past human actions by
adding all prior actions on an action
-
by
-
action basis. There are several reasons for not taking this
approach. First, a catalog and analysis of all past actions would be impractical to compile and
unduly costly to obtain. Curren
t conditions have been impacted by innumerable actions over the
last century (and beyond), and trying to isolate the individual actions that continue to have
residual impacts would be nearly impossible. Second, providing the details of past actions on an
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

22


individual basis would not be useful to predict the cumulative effects of the proposed action or
alternatives. In fact, focusing on individual actions would be less accurate than looking at
existing conditions because there is limited information on the e
nvironmental impacts of
individual past actions, and one cannot reasonable identify each and every action other the last
century that has contributed to current conditions. Additionally, focusing on the impacts of past
human actions risks ignoring the imp
ortant residual effects of past natural events, which may
contribute to cumulative effects just as much as human actions. By looking at current conditions,
we are sure to capture all the residual effects of past human actions and natural events, regardles
s
of which particular action or event contributed those effects. Third, public scoping for this
project did not identify any public interest or need for detailed information on individual past
actions. Finally, the Council on Environmental Quality issued

an interpretive memorandum on
June 24, 2005 regarding analysis of past actions, which states, “agencies can conduct an adequate
cumulative effects analysis by focusing on the current aggregate effects of past actions without
delving into the h
istorical de
tails of
individual past actions.”


The cumulative effects analysis in this EA is also consistent with Forest Service National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (36 CFR 220.4(f)), July 24, 2008), which states in
part:

CEQ regulations do not
require the consideration of the individual effects of all past actions to
determin
e

the present effects o
f
past actions. Once the agency has identified those present effects
of past actions that warrant consideration, the agency as
sesses the exten
t that
the effects of the
proposal of agency action or its alternatives will add to, modify, or mitigation those effects. The
final analysis documents an agency assessment of the cumulative effects of the actions considered
(including past, present, and reasonabl
e foreseeable

future actio
n
s

on the affected environment.
With respect to past action
s
, during the scoping process and subsequent preparation

for the
analysis, the agency m
uch determine what in
formation regarding past actio
n
s

is useful and
relevant to the required analysis of cumulative
effects. Cataloging past actio
n
s and

specific
information about the direct and indirect effects of their design and implementation

cou
l
d

in some
contexts be useful to predict the cumulative ef
fects of the proposal. The CEQ regulation
s,
however, d
o not require agencies to catalog or exhaustively list and an
alyze all individual past
actions. Simply because information about past may be available or obtained with reasonable
effort does not mean
that it is relevant and necessary to inform d
ecision
-
making (40 CFR 1508.7).

For these reasons, the analysis of past actions in this section is based on current environmental
conditions unless otherwise noted.


Rangeland Resources



Existing Conditions


Rangeland Resources


This allotment consists of five pastures that are grazed at various times throughout a grazing
season (May 1 through November 30).

Four of these pastures (Imnaha River pastures) are
located adjacent to each other along the Upper Imnaha River. There
are two distinct landforms
within the four Imnaha River pastures; higher elevation areas that tend to be steeper and contain
multiple lay
ers of rims and lower elevation footslope/lower bench areas.


Chapter 3


Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences

23

Historically, the permittee would graze each of these pastures independently and distribute the
cattle into the higher elevation, steep reaches with salt, water
, and herding techniques
.


The f
ifth pasture,
Middle Point
, is located on the dividing ridge between the Imnaha River and
Big Sheep Creek. This pasture was traditionally used in the spring when there was sufficient
water in
its t
hirteen developments to supply water for the permitted cat
tle. The pasture has not
been grazed in
15

years
. The vegetation consists of late seral plant communities of Idaho
fescue/bluebunch wheatgrass


arrowleaf balsamroot, low sage communities, and Idaho
fescue/prairie junegrass communities (Johsnon and Simon

1987). These communities are in
a
late seral

condition
, and have only small levels of annual vegetation prese
nt, (State and Transition
Stat
es of A and B)
.



Several perennial streams are present within Imnaha River pastures. However, only the Imnaha
Ri
ver (adjacent to the pastures), is fish bearing, and contains Fall and Spring/Summer Chinook
(
Oncorhynchus tshawytcha
), steelhead (
Oncorhynchus mykiss
), and bull trout (
Salvelinus
confluentus
). The perennial streams within the pastures are not fish bearin
g as a result of physical
barriers which prevent fish from migrating up the stream corridors.



Current Management

Resource conditions

permitting
, livestock
can be stocked on the allotment

as early as 14 d
ays
prior to the permitted turn
-
on date and remove
d from the allotment as late as 14 days after the
permitted off date
, and must remain within
the permitted
head months
. The season may be
shortened or shifted due to annual

climatic

conditions or events (i.e. fire, drought, saturated soil
conditions). The specific rotation

and duration

is decided upon annually depending on variations
in resource

and environmental

conditions.


One grazing schedule has occurred on this allotment sin
ce the implementation of the CMP in
2003. This schedule pushed the grazing season back 14 days, and grazed through the month of
May. Instead of grazing in the month of November, the past permittee would graze seven bulls
from July through November. In 2
009, the new permittee grazed only during the spring and fall
grazing seasons.


Table
6

lists the livestock type, pasture location, permitted numbers, permit type, and season of
use within the current term and private land grazing permits.


Table
6
.
Current use for the Schleur Allotment

Livestock
Type

Pasture
Location

Permitted
Numbers

Permit Type

Duration

Cattle

Imnaha River
Pastures

100 Public

Term Grazing Permit

4/16
-
5/15

11/1
-
11/30

Cattle

Imnaha River
pastures

20 Private

Private Grazing
Permit

4/16
-
5/15

11/1
-
11/30

Cattle

Middle
Point
*

120 Public

Term Grazing Permit

5/15


6/
15

* Used only when the resource conditions permit use. Use is decided upon annually.


This allotment is managed using techniques designed to obtain the most uniform livestock
grazing and forage use possible for the terrain. These techniques are applied to allow for forage
use, but also for maintenance of ecosystem health.
Compliance stand
ards
are monitored
r
egardless of variations in the seasons of use or numbers stocked
. Desired

manag
ement for this
Schleur Rangeland Analysis

Environmental Assessment

24


allotment

is to meet or move towards
LRMP

(1990)
, HCNRA CMP

and AMP
goals and
objectives.


Capability and Suitability

The Wallowa
-
Whitman National
LRMP

(1990)

recognizes the continuing need for forage
production
. The Forest Service
has determined that the
Schleur Allotment is

capable and suitable
to support grazing by domestic livestock.
Figure
5

shows the capability an
d suitability model
acreage of the Schleur Allotment following the guidelines for the revised
LRMP

(1990)

(in
revision). Field observations identify that cattle on this allotment tend to concentrate use on the
areas portrayed in the capability model for ca
ttle, but also utilize the steeper slopes. Ongoing and
historic field observations and professional judgment confirm that cattle currently and historically
graze on slopes greater than
those
identified in the catt
le model (45 percent slope use). The
capab
le acreage as defined using the sheep grazing model is more representative of actual use
than capable acreage defined using the model for cattle. For this reason, the capability and
suitability model for sheep grazing was used for this analysis
,

(differen
tiated from cattle grazing
by an increase to 60 percent slope utilization). With this protocol, assumed use would be on
approximately 687 acres of the Schleur allotment (Figure

5)
. The model used may not accurately
depict total cattle use areas on the al
lotment, but rather should be used
as an indicator

of where
the cattle will concentrate most of their use.


Of the 687 capable and suitable acres approximately 150 acres

are

considered to be in State D.
According to the HCCMP (2003) Gra
-

S2,
unsatisfact
ory