Choate vegetation management project


RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REMOVING, AVOIDING OR COMPENSATING FOR ANY ADVERSE EFFECTS



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6. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REMOVING, AVOIDING OR COMPENSATING FOR ANY ADVERSE EFFECTS

1) Recommendations are included in the Actions Common to All Alternatives section of Chapter 2 of the EA, and Riparian Design Criteria are contained in the Fisheries, Riparian and Aquatic section of Chapter 3 of the EA. These recommendations should be implemented to avoid, minimize or compensate for adverse impacts to Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species.

2)

Sale area layout would not include any ELTP defined E and F slopes for inclusion in the cutting unit boundaries. Equipment operation on D slopes would be evaluated on a case by case basis by Sales Administrators as to the need for designated skid trails.


3) Harvest activities should not occur within EC&I identified riparian types. Site specific riparian area protection described in the EA should be applied to all stands with commercial timber harvest activities.
4) Install water diversion structures on temporary roads and skid trails where needed to limit erosion potential.
5) Adhere to guidelines provide in "Water Quality Management Practices on Forested Land", Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 1994 or commonly referred to as Michigan's Best Management Practices (BMP's) for the appropriate actions occurring on the land. This would include seeding of temporary roads, skid trails, and landings where deemed necessary to control erosion. Utilize a Botanist-approved seed mixture, to assure prompt revegetation of the affected area.
6) Install and maintain informational signs at major fishing access points within the project area. Signs should address the spread of invasive aquatic species such as Eurasian water-milfoil, purple loosestrife, and rusty crayfish, as well as the spread of non-native earthworms used for bait.
7) In order to reduce the spread of non-native invasive plants, weed prevention practices outlined in the botanical resources section of the EA should be followed where commercial timber harvest or road work occurs within the project area.
8) During wildlife opening maintenance, personnel will watch for and retain any butternut trees. This measure particularly applies to opening maintenance along streambanks and formerly human-occupied sites such as the old Choate townsite.

9) Active wildlife den trees would not be marked for removal to contribute to the maintenance of black-backed woodpecker habitat components.



7. RISK ASSESSMENT

A risk assessment considers two factors: Factor 1) the consequences of adverse or beneficial effects on the population or habitat, and Factor 2) the likelihood or probability that these effects will occur. Levels of consequences and levels of likelihood are described in Appendix 1 at the end of this Biological Evaluation. The direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of each alternative are used to determine the level of consequences and level of likelihood. This assessment is used in making the determinations (Section 8) for each taxon. Taxa have been combined for the risk assessment when they share the same habitat and threats.



ANIMALS



Canis lupus

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because, while there would be no direct impacts to habitat; there would be indirect effects, such as gradual reduction in prey densities, that could cause cumulative effects. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because impacts to foraging habitat and to prey would be indirect and gradual. Overall, no effects to wolves are expected from the No Action Alternative.

Alternative 2(Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low; impacts to habitat are both beneficial and detrimental in the short-term and mainly beneficial in the long-term. While the activity during active timber sales would increase in the area in the short-term, the modified clearcuts would maintain or increase the area’s carrying capacity for prey, and the decrease in total road density would reduce the likelihood of human/wolf interactions in the long-term. Hardwood management would have little affect on preybase or on denning habitat. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because wolves appear to fare well in managed forest landscapes in the western Upper Peninsula. Overall, no effects are expected to wolves from implementing either of these alternatives.


Pipistrellus subflavus

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because there would be no direct impacts to habitat and indirect effects would be generally positive. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is also low because impacts to foraging and roosting habitat and to prey would be indirect and gradual via natural succession, and generally positive. Therefore the overall risk to this species due to this alternative is none-low. This alternative would have no impact on the eastern pipistrelle.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low, though impacts to habitat are beneficial. While the modified clearcuts would remove potential roosting it would not remove the roosting habitat near the riparian area of the Cisco Branch or the South Branch of the Ontonagon River. The opening maintenance would keep potential foraging areas. The decrease of roosting habitat via clearcutting in the Modified Proposed Action is offset by an abundance of remaining roosting habitat in the project area. Roosting habitat in other managed stands would not be impacted to the degree of the clearcut units. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because, harvest activities would likely ocurr when the potential for bats in the project area is low. Harvest activities would likely ocurr during the winter season in the project area. The intermediate harvests will have the likelihood of low impacts because only some of the trees will be harvest and the majority will be retained.Therefore the overall risk to this species due to the Modified Proposed Action is low. The Modified Proposed Action is not likely to have any impact on potential bat habitat, will not affect any individuals and is not likely to cause a trend to Federal listing or a loss of species viability.

Accipiter gentilis

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because there would be no direct impacts to nesting habitat, but there would be a gradual reduction in amount and quantity of aspen-dominated foraging habitat in the project area. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because impacts to foraging habitat and prey would be indirect and gradual. Therefore the overall risk to this species due to this alternative is low to none; there may be some gradual and attenuated impacts to goshawks using the area, but this alternative is not expected to cause a trend to federal listing or a loss of viability of the species. This alternative would have no impact on the northern goshawk.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because impacts to nesting habitat would be minimal, and the impacts to aspen-dominated foraging habitat would be positive via 1,027acres of clearcutting providing habitat for ruffed grouse and snowshoe hare prey species for the goshawk. There would be some loss of potential aspen nesting habitat,but there would still be over 1400 acres of deciduous forest stands with a stand BA greater than 80 sq.ft. and stand dbh greater than 8 inches available for nesting. There are also 1240 acres of conifer stands that can supply potential foraging and nesting habitat for goshawks. Foraging quality of the hardwood stands would not be appreciably altered by aspen removal or selection harvests. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because, the harvest activities would ocurr during the winter or dry summer seasons and and these are time periods outside of the goshawk breeding, nesting and fledging season. The overall risk to this species under to this alternative is low; there may be impact individuals, but is not likely to cause a trend to federal listing or loss of viability.

Buteo lineatus

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because potential nesting and foraging habitat would continue to exist and be available on the Forest and in the project area. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is none because suitable nesting or prey habitat would not be affected, though habitat quality may gradually improve via natural succession. This alternative will have no impact.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because there would be minimal effects to nesting or prey habitat under this alternative. There would be some loss of potential aspen nesting habitat,but there would still be over 1400 acres of deciduous forest stands with a stand BA greater than 80 sq.ft. and stand dbh greater than 8 inches available for nesting. The best potential habitat in the project area is located in the W&S River corridors for the Cisco Branch and the South Branch of the Ontonagon River, and there are no harvesting activities proposed in these river corridors. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because impacts to suitable nesting habitat would be minimal and foraging habitat would not be affected. Therefore the overall risk to this species as a result of these alternatives is low, there may be impact individuals, but is not likely to cause a trend to federal listing or loss of viability.
Oporornis agilis

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because habitat will continue to be available on the Forest and in the project area. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because aging of the mature aspen stands would reduce stand basal area, and brushy understories would develope habitat acreage and maintain some potential habitats in the project area. Therefore, overall risk to this species is low. This alternative will have no impact.


Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because habitat would continue to be available on the Forest and in the project area under this alternative. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because although there might be short-term negative impacts in some stands,but the aspen regeneration, opening maintenance and selection harvests should create or maintain potential nesting habitats in the project area. Activities should be beneficial overall. Therefore the overall risk to this species due to this project is low. This alternative will have no impact.

Picoides arcticus

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because, while there would be no direct impacts to habitat, there would be indirect effects (via natural succession) that could cause positive cumulative effects. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because impacts to foraging and roosting habitat and to prey would be indirect and gradual. Therefore the overall risk to this woodpecker due to this alternative is low. This alternative will have no impact.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because habitat would continue to be available on the Forest and in the project area under this alternative. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because although there might be short-term negative impacts in some stands, activities should be beneficial overall. Therefore the overall risk to this species due to this project is low. This alternative will have no impact.
Strix nebulosa

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because, while there would be no direct impacts to habitat, there would be indirect effects (via natural succession) that could cause positive cumulative effects. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because impacts to foraging and roosting habitat and to prey would be indirect and gradual. Therefore the overall risk to this owl due to this alternative is low. This alternative will have no impact.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because not all of the potential habitat would be altered or removed. There would still be 1,450 acres of deciduous forest stands and 1240 acres of conifer stands with average stand diameter greater than 8 inches in dbh that could provide potential nesting habitat. The opening maintenance would provide potential foraging habitat. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is low because potential habitat is available in the project area, and great gray owls are not known to be present in the project area.. Therefore, the overall risk to this species due to these alternatives is low. This alternative will have no impact.
Alasmidonta marginata, Lasmigona compressa, Lasmigona costata, Ligumia recta

Alternative 1 (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because there would be minor direct impacts to habitat (via sedimentation). Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is moderate because there are sediment-producing roads in the project area caused by previous management activities and present day vehicular traffic. Therefore the overall risk to this species due to this alternative is low, there may be impact individuals, but is not likely to cause a trend to federal listing or loss of viability.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because impacts to habitat are beneficial. Following the riparian design criteria and the State of Michigan’s Best Management Practices for Harvesting Timber would reduce long term impacts to potential habitat. Fixing the Redlight creek crossing and installation of 23 culverts in varioous location will reduce sediments entering permanent streams and intermittant drainages. This will result in long term habitat improvement. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is moderate because this is the action alternative which would manage stands in the project area. Roads and skid trails are needed to manage these stands. The overall risk to these four species under the Modified Proposed Action is low because the impacts under Factor 1 are beneficial after 1-2 seasons, there may be impact individuals, but is not likely to cause a trend to federal listing or loss of viability.


Gomphus quadricolor, Ophiogompus anomalus, Ophiogomphus howei, Somatochlora forcipata, and Somatochlora minor

Alternative A (No Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts to larval dragonflies are low because there would be minor direct impacts to habitat (via sedimentation). Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is moderate because there are sediment-producing roads in the project area caused by previous management activities and present day vehicular traffic. Therefore the overall risk to this species due to this alternative is low, there may be impact individuals, but is not likely to cause a trend to federal listing or loss of viability.

Alternative B Modified Proposed Action): Factor 1: The consequences of impacts are low because impacts to habitat are both beneficial and detrimental. Following the Ottawa National Forest Riparian Guidelines and the State of Michigan’s Best Management Practices for Harvesting Timber would reduce long term impacts to suitable habitat. There would be short term impacts (1-2 seasons) that would have minor effects on suitable habitat. The minor short term impacts are offset by improving the existing condition in the long term. Factor 2: The likelihood of impacts is high because this is action alternative which would manage stands in the project area. Roads and skid trails are needed to manage these stands. The overall risk to these four species under the Modified Proposed Action is low because the impacts under Factor 1 are beneficial after 1-2 seasons, there may be impact individuals, but is not likely to cause a trend to federal listing or loss of viability.


PLANTS



Alternative 1

As stated earlier, Alternative 1 (No Action) is determined to have no impact on any sensitive plant species. Factor 1: Consequences are considered none because there are known locations of sensitive plants within the project area and the current condition of project area provides suitable habitats for many rare plant species. Factor 2: The likelihood of adverse effects is considered none because taking no action would result in no adverse consequences to sensitive plants at all.

Alternative 2
Sensitive plants associated with mesic northern hardwood species (Botrychium mormo, Botrychium oneidense, Cardamine maxima, Disporum hookeri, Erythronium albidum, Panax quinquefolius, Phegopteris hexagonoptera, Tiarella cordifolia).
Factor 1: The only activities proposed within mesic northern forest habitat are thinning and selection harvest. These activities would only have a low consequence of adverse effects. Thinning and selection harvest would generally leave existing habitat in a suitable conditions for northern mesic forest species. Adverse effects would be limited to some soil disturbance and loss of shade. Factor 2: The likelihood of adverse effects is low because no sensitive plants were observed within the project area, and possible effects from soils disturbance would be mostly limited to skid trails.
Sensitive plants associated with dry northern forest or dry-mesic northern forest (Cynoglossum boreale, Oryzopsis canadensis, Pterospora andromedea, Vaccinium cespitosum)
Factor 1: Consequences are considered moderate because the construction of new roads in suitable habitat could cause a permanent loss to potential habitats or population and modified clearcuts in potential habitat could change habitat from a suitable to unsuitable condition for several years. Factor 2: The likelihood is considered low because no sensitive plants were observed within the project area and the likelihood of their occurring within areas proposed for activity is considered very low.
Sensitive plants associated with rich conifer swamp habitat (Amerorchis rotundifolia, Calypso bulbosa , Malaxis brachypoda, Polemonium occidentale ssp. lacustre)

Factor 1: There are no expected adverse effects from the proposed action. All proposed actions will be outside of lowland conifer habitat. Riparian buffers and design criteria would preclude any affects to conifer swamp habitat when project actions occur in adjacent upland forests. Factor 2: Because there are no expected adverse effects, the likelihood of adverse effects occurs is likewise expected to be none.

Sensitive plants associated with non-forested wetlands (Muhlenbergia uniflora, Petasites sagittatus, Polygonum careyi, Salix pellita, Viola lanceolata)
Factor 1: Consequences of potential adverse effects are considered low. Opening maintenance, tag-alder regeneration, fisheries habitat improvements, and watershed improvement projects in non-forested wetlands are not expected to have adverse effects on sensitive plant species. Road construction in wetland openings and across riparian areas may remove a small amount of potential habitat. Factor 2: The likelihood of adverse effects is low because no sensitive plants were observed within the project area, road construction in non-forested wetlands and riparian areas is very limited, and design criteria are in place to protect wetland habitats.
Sensitive plants associated with a variety of habitats (Astragalus canadensis, Astragalus neglectus, Botrychium hesperium, Botrychium lunaria, Botrychium pallidum, Botrychium rugulosum, Geocaulon lividum, Juglans cinerea, Mimulus guttatus, Pyrola asarifolia, Pyrola minor)
Factor 1: Possible adverse effects from the proposed action on these species vary. Most of the proposed actions would either have no effect on potential habitat, or would not cause a permanent change from suitable to unsuitable condition. Permanent road construction could remove a limited amount of potential habitat, but if this activity is occurring in suitable habitat, then the species is one that is known to occur on roadsides and the habitat is only marginally suitable. Factor 2: The likelihood of adverse effects is low because no sensitive plants were observed within the project area, and actions that may cause adverse effects are very limited.

Sensitive plants associated with a variety of habitats (Cypripedium arietinum and Orobanche uniflora)

Factor 1: Consequences of adverse effects are considered moderate because potential habitat for both of these species may occur in areas proposed for permanent road construction and/or timber harvest may change some habitat from a suitable to unsuitable condition. Factor 2: The likelihood of adverse effects is low because no sensitive plants were observed within the project area, and proposed activities that may have harmful affects are relatively limited within the project area.
Lichens (Cetraria aurescens, Lobaria quercizans, Usnea longissima)

Factor 1: Consequences of adverse effects on these three lichens are considered moderate because these lichens grow on trees and potential habitat may occur within stands proposed for timber harvest or road construction. There is therefore a possible adverse effect on habitat or on a population. Factor 2: Except for the fact that these lichens are uncommon, the likelihood of adverse effects is difficult to estimate, since no surveys have been conducted. Potential adverse affects are limited to three hemlock-hardwoods stands proposed for selection cut, one hardwood-basswood stand proposed for selection cut, and seven mixed hardwood stands proposed for selection cut or thinning. All these stands likely lack the combination of old growth and high humidity to make the stands well-suited for these lichens. The likelihood of impacts is considered low.

Lichens (Menegazzia terebrata and Sticta fuliginosa)

Factor 1: Because no activities are proposed in suitable habitat, there are expected to be no adverse impacts to Menegazzia terebrata or Sticta fuliginosa. Factor 2: Because there are no expected adverse effects Menegazzia terebrata or Sticta fuliginosa, the likelihood of adverse effects occurs is likewise expected to be none.

Lichen (Peltigera venosa)
Factor 1: The consequence of adverse impacts to Peltigera venosa is considered low. The only potential adverse effect would be timber harvests precluding the formation of tip-up mounds, on which the lichen may occur. Factor 2: The likelihood of adverse effects is considered low because of the extreme rarity of this lichen and the limited likelihood that conditions are suitable for this species.




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