Choate vegetation management project

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Pipistrellus subflavus (Eastern Pipistrelle) Regional Forester Sensitive Species/State Special Concern

This species occurs throughout the Eastern United States, with Michigan (particularly the Upper Peninsula) and Wisconsin at the northern edge of its range. The species is rare to uncommon in Michigan and presently known from only two counties in the Western part of the Upper Peninsula (Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties) and just one county in the Lower Peninsula (Baker, 1983). Summer foraging habitat includes the forested edges of fields and waterways (Baker, 1983). This bat prefers partly open country with scattered large trees and woodland edges (NatureServe, 2000). Eastern pipistrelles feed on a variety of insects such as moths, beetles, small wasps, and flying ants. In winter, the eastern pipistrelle generally hibernates in substantial, insulated shelters such as caves and mine tunnels (Baker, 1983). Summer roosts have been found to occur in the attics of buildings, in tree cavities, and even in tree foliage (Davis and Mumford, 1962). Important habitat features include standing dead trees (snags) and large hollow trees (NatureServe, 2000). There is evidence that eastern pipistrelles are uncommon year-around residents in the Western Upper Peninsula. The sparse population may simply be the result of climatic factors, since this area is at the northern edge of the range of this species.

Alternative 1 (No Action)

The No Action Alternative would not result in any new construction, re-construction maintenance or decommissioning of roads, or vegetative management actions or connected actions by the Forest Service. Therefore, there would be no direct effects to potential eastern pipistrelle habitat from the No Action Alternative. There is an existing network of roads, some useable by pick up trucks, some passable with ATVs and some accessible by foot traffic.


Without active forest management in the project area the long-term trend would be the ageing of the current aspen stands some of which would decline and die resulting in the loss of some of the aspen component. The consequence of this natural succession process will be a gradual conversion of the early successional forest types to either conifer forests (spruce-fir), or northern hardwood forest types. The incidence of aspen tree death, adjacent to opening or wetland edges, would create some standing dead wood, which would be a potential habitat component for the pipistrelle.
In this alternative there would be no opening maintenance activities on the 362 acres of upland openings in the project area. In time these openings would give way to shrubs and trees. As the open field seral stage gave way to dominance by woody plants this potential habitat component for the bat would disappear reducing the amount of potential habitat in the project area.
This alternative would not change the amount of either wetland habitats and the amounts of forested riparian habitats so this habitat component would remain available as potential pipistrelle habitat.
This alternative would result in the small loss of some potential eastern pipistrelle foraging habitat but overall the impact of this alternative is expected to result in the maintenance of the existing potential eastern pipistrelle habitat in the project area.
Cumulative effects
The cumulative effects ere considered at the project area scale. The project area was used because bats are considered fairly mobile species and are thought to range widely to seek out best foraging opportunities for insects.

Past harvest activities in the project area in the 15 years have concentrated on aspen harvests. The cutting of aspen stands may have had a minor affect by the reduced the potential for some dead wood and snag development in harvested stands that were adjacent to wetlands or beaver ponds. There were no treatments or activities scheduled for the riparian forest stands and these potential habitats and with the passage of the past 15 years may offer slight improved potential foraging or daytime roosting habitats.

The past and ongoing actions within the project area are not expected to have affected the ability of the project area to provide potential eastern pipistrelle foraging and summer roosting habitat.
Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action)
This alternative proposes the following actions 1,027 acres of modified clear cutting, 256 acres of selection harvest in northern hardwood stands, 32 acres of over story removal, 309 acres of thinning, 362 acres of opening maintenance, and 50 acres of tag alder regeneration. The timber harvesting activities in this alternative would occur during the winter season when any potential bats are not present in the project. Bats would be hibernating in hibernacula and there are no known bat hibernacula located within or adjacent to the project area.
The modified clear cuts would reduce some potential pipistrelle roosting habitat by removing a source of potential dead or dying trees that would have provided loose bark or cavities that bats use as roosting sites. This treatment may also reduce potential available foraging habitat. The literature indicates that these bats forage in open stands and woodland edges adjacent to riparian areas or openings. The aspen stands proposed for regeneration have existing basal areas or stem densities higher than preferred bat foraging habitat. Although some potential roosting and foraging habitat maybe removed through the modified clear cutting of the aspen stands, the riparian areas, wetland and upland openings should provide potential roosting and foraging habitat. The thinnings and selection harvests should reduce tree spacing and thereby provide some potential foraging habitats.

The maintenance of the upland openings in the project area will keep these habitats in the early seral stage of development, and provide potential foraging habitat.

This alternative may result in the slight reduction of potential foraging and roosting habitat in the aspen component of the project area. Most of the aspen habitat was not quality potential habitat so that the reduction in acres will be a minor negative affect. The other treatments should maintain potential roosting and foraging habitat in the project area.
Cumulative effects
The cumulative effects ere considered at the project area scale. The project area was used because bats are considered fairly mobile species and are thought to range widely to seek out best foraging opportunities for insects.
Past harvest activities in the project area in the 15 years have concentrated on aspen harvests. The cutting of aspen stands may have had a minor affect by the reduced the potential for some dead wood and snag development in harvested stands that were adjacent to wetlands or beaver ponds. There were no treatments or activities scheduled for the riparian forest stands and these potential habitats and with the passage of the past 15 years may offer slight improved potential foraging or daytime roosting habitats.
The past and ongoing actions within the project area are not expected to have affected the ability of the project area to provide potential eastern pipistrelle foraging and summer roosting habitat.

Accipiter gentilis (Northern Goshawk) Regional Forester's Sensitive / State Special Concern

This aggressive hawk inhabits acreages of northern hardwood and other mature forests having a closed canopy and relatively open understory. Nest territories include stands composed predominately of old, large diameter trees with a closed canopy, and a rather open understory. An area of 20-30 acres around the nest is considered to be the nest site proper. On the Ottawa, aspen seems to be the most frequently used nest tree, though several other tree species are commonly used. Constructed stick nests are large, located below the main canopy, and can be used repeatedly. New and alternate nests are usually located within 300 meters of previous nest sites. In the Great Lakes region, goshawk nesting activity may follow the population cycles of the snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse, their primary prey (Erdman et al., 1998). New and alternative nests are usually located within 300 meters of the previous nest sites, therefore management of entire nest territories is preferable to protecting only individual nest trees/sites (Lapinski 2000). . Surveys will be conducted in the spring of 2002.

The post fledging area around the nest is a mixture of forest conditions intermediate between the high foliage volume and canopy of the nest stands and the more open foraging area encompassing the entire nesting territory. The post fledging "training grounds" of fledged young is generally 500-600 acres in size. Foraging areas are the largest, and most diverse portion of the goshawk nesting home range. Snags, downed logs, openings, large trees, shrubby understories, and interspersion of vegetation of various structural stages, from grass to old forests, are critical for prey species used by the goshawk, from hairy woodpeckers to snowshoe hares. The goshawk preys on a wide range of medium sized prey and does best where variety and stability of prey is assured. Given the wide range of the goshawk's prey and the fact that two of the largest common prey species (ruffed grouse and snowshoe hare) depend on young forests, it is apparent that a mixture of old and young habitat conditions are essential for successful nesting by goshawks. The increased access and potential for disturbance during the nesting and incubation stages that can result from logging also can have an impact on goshawks.

The Forest Plan objective is to maintain 240,000 acres of northern hardwood forest for the northern goshawk and other species that utilize similar habitats. The 10-year Monitoring and Evaluation Report (USDA 1998) indicates that the Forest exceeds this objective, with more than 420,000 acres of this habitat currently available. Goshawk populations are monitored on a regular basis using standard road survey routes. It is difficult to get an accurate trend for a rare species using this type of survey

Although most of the known goshawk nests on the Ottawa are located in hardwood or mixed hardwood/conifer stands, goshawks in the Great Lakes region have been known to nest in a variety of forest types, including mature conifer and aspen forest; it appears that any mature stand of trees capable of attaining large diameters and dense stocking can be used for nesting (Dick and Plumpton 1999, Rosenfield et al 1998). For this analysis, potential nesting goshawk habitat was identified as mature hardwood, conifer, aspen, and mixed forest, though only a subset of these habitats would actually provide the site conditions necessary for goshawk nesting. Scientific studies indicate that goshawks select for habitat conditions such as closed canopy, high basal area, and large tree size when selecting a nest site (Rosenfield et al 1998). The literature does not elicidate whether these habitat conditions must be present throughout the nest stand or only in the immediate vicinity of the nest site. In both natural and managed stands, canopy closure, tree density, and tree size can be quite variable. Therefore, it is not possible to identify specifically which of the mature stands in the project area provide truly potential nesting habitat.

The Choate Project Area contains about 3,719 acres of forested stands that have a stand basal area or 80 sq. ft. per acre and average stand diameter of 8 inches or larger. By forest type this amounts to 1,977 acres of aspen 1,242 acres of conifer stands, and 500 acres of northern hardwood; forests that could be considered potential for nesting habitat. While it is unknown exactly what percentage of these acres currently provide potential nesting habitat for northern goshawks, many of these acres provide large trees and a relatively open understory.

The entire project area is considered suitable foraging habitat, since goshawks are opportunistic predators, and will feed on a variety of avian and mammal prey species in this area (Erdman et al, 1998). There is suitable grouse and snowshoe hare habitat scattered throughout the project area. Aspen, aspen/birch/fir/spruce, and fir/spruce/aspen/birch stands of various ages exist throughout the project area and could be used by grouse, hare, and other species. Abundant habitat exists across the project area for squirrels and larger songbirds.
Alternative 1 (No Action)

Since no management would occur under this Alternative, goshawk habitat would not be actively changed. Most areas currently providing potential nesting habitat would continue to do so, and would likely improve in quality over time as the second growth forests in the project area continue to mature. Maturing aspen stands, which can be nesting habitat, would gradually move toward coniferous conditions. However, habitats that produce many prey species, such as aspen stands, would likely be lost due to conversion to hardwoods or conifers. This could result in a decline in these prey species in the long-term. How much of a decline and whether it would affect goshawks in the project area is uncertain. However, it would be a gradual change, which would allow goshawks an opportunity to select other prey species, and move if necessary. Potential impacts to goshawks would be indirect and slightly positive.

Cumulative Effects

The cumulative effect analysis for the goshawk was conducted at the Project Area scale because it is large enough (about 8,750 ac) to address habitat and movement concerns for a species that uses a relatively large home range, and matches the scale at which vegetation was evaluated in the EA. The Choate project area, as well as most of the ONF was heavily altered around the turn of the century through logging. As a result, the suitability of the area to sustain many species was reduced, including the goshawk. In fact, it is likely that goshawks were extirpated from the area for many decades because of the widespread disturbances to forestland. Erdmann et al. (1998) discuss the re-colonization of the region by goshawks as the second growth forests matured. Most of the forests that currently comprise the project area are mature second growth forests that are improving in their habitat quality for goshawk nesting. About 214 acres of aspen have been clear-cut during the last 15 years, and, and these areas are providing ideal foraging habitat for goshawks at this time.

Other activities such as recreation and road maintenance would continue and effects on goshawks, which are thought to be minimal, would not change from the current condition.
Relative to future actions, there is no future harvest scheduled at this time.
Potential impacts to goshawks from this alternative are indirect, minimal, and spread over the long-term. They should not add to effects of past or expected actions noticeably due to the maturation of forests in the Project Area. Therefore, it is expected that cumulative effects from the no action alternative would be slightly positive, if even detectable.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action)

This alternative proposes the following actions 1,027 acres of modified clear cutting, 256 acres of selection harvest in northern hardwood stands, 32 acres of over story removal, 309 acres of thinning, 362 acres of opening maintenance, and 50 acres of tag alder regeneration. The timber harvesting activities in this alternative would occur during the winter season when any potential bats are not present in the project.

Nesting habitat is more restricted in the project area, and is thought to be available only in the well-stocked stands with large-diameter trees (Bowerman, 1998, Rosenfield, et al., 1998). Using the Forest’s stand data, which do not include all the parameters typically measured by researchers, the best information available is size/density class. On the Ottawa, the highest quality nesting habitat is thought to be found in stands with size density classes of 8 and 9; some stands of size/density class 6 are known to be suitable for nesting, though of a lower quality (pers. obs.).

The project area has 2,477 acres of aspen and northern hardwood stands with a stand basal area of 80 square feet of basal area (BA)per acre and average stand diameter 8 inches in dbh or larger. Some of these stands could be potential nesting habitat. The modified proposed action will remove 41% of the deciduous hardwood stands (1,027 acres of aspen modified clear cuts) that have at least 80 BA and have a stand diameter greater than 8 inches in diameter in the 1.1 MA portion of the project area. None of the modified clearcuts proposed are in either Wild and Scenic River corridor for the Cisco Branch or the South Branch of the Ontonagon Rivers. There are also about 1,240 acres of conifer stands in the project area that have at least 80 sq.ft. of basal area per acre with an average stand diameter greater than eight inches. These stands will also provide potential goshawk nesting and foraging habitat in the project area. These a few of these stands will receive a thinning harvest, but residual basal area after treatment should not fall below 80 BA..

The 1,027 acres of modified clear cuts would reduced the amount of potential nesting habitat for goshawks in the project area. After the treatments there would still be 950 acre of mature aspen and mixed aspen spruce fir stands available as potential nesting habitat. The modified cleara cutting would be a negative impact on potential nesting habitat. The results of the modified clear cutting would be the creation of young age classes of aspen that would be potential habitat for goshawk prey species (i.e. ruffed grouse and snowhoe hare). Some of these new clear cuts would be adjacent to mature aspen thus the potential for having potential nesting habitat adjacent to potential foraging habitat, and providing positive directs effects for potential goshawk habitat in the project area. The stands proposed for modified clear cutting would be harvested during the winter or during dry summer conditions. The harvests would ocurr outside of the breeding, nesting and fledging season for the goshawk, reducing the impact on any potential nesting goshawks in the project area.

The Modified Proposed Action would include 256 acres of selection harvest and the 309 acres of thinnings to reduce competition and allow for increased growth in remaining trees. Canopy closure would remain high (>75%) after the harvest, and some large-diameter trees would be retained, so potential nesting habitat in these stands should not be affected greatly. If quality is reduced, it should be re-gained after several growing seasons. Most of the harvest in these stands would occur in the winter or late summer, so there would not be disturbance during the breeding season in most instances. Roads built to access the harvested stands would be closed to passenger vehicles after harvest, but ATVs would be allowed to use them, which could lead to disturbance of nesting hawks. The thinnings and selection harvests will produce only small, and short term direct effects on potential red-shouldered hawk nesting habitat in the project

Opening maintenance of 362 ac, would also maintain some potential foraging areas forgoshawks. These openings are dispersed across the project area, including some adjacent to the Cisco Branch and the South Branch of the Ontonagon Rivers. The openings provide potential supplemental foraging areas for goshawks in the project area, although these openings are more likely to be used by red-tailed and broad-winged hawks. The opening maintenance will provide some potential positive direct effects for foraging areas in the project area.

Other activities, such as road building, reconstruction, and maintenance are not expected to have a major effect on goshawks via disturbance, nor on goshawk habitat or prey. The Modified Proposed Action would produce negative direct effects via removal of nesting habitat and foraging habitat, and positive indirect effects via creation and improvement of foraging habitat.
Project Design Criteria:
To avoid impacts to northern goshawk habitat components, the following Project Design Criteria If any raptor nest trees are found during project implementation or any of the known nests become active nests, their location would be brought to the attention of the wildlife biologist for evaluation and recommendations. If present, active goshawk nests and all known alternative goshawk nests in active territories will be protected with Ottawa National Forest goshawk management guidelines.
If any RFSS is detected as breeding, nesting, denning, or otherwise occupying a site proposed for management, their location would be brought to the attention of the wildlife biologist for evaluation and recommendations.
Cumulative Effects

Most of the land within the Project Area is National Forest and only a small portion (~5%) is industrial forestland. Industrial Forest land has been subjected to a fairly steady and focused harvest schedule, consequently, high quality nesting habitat is rare, if present at all on these lands within the Project Area (pers. obs.), but foraging habitat is abundant. Generally, development of high-quality nesting habitat is not expected on these lands within the Project Area in the foreseeable future. Maintenance of high-quality foraging habitat is expected to continue, however, via forest management in early successional forest types and in northern hardwood types on industrial forestland.

Of the 8,750 ac of FS land within the Project Area, about 214acres has been harvested in the last 15 years. Even-aged harvesting has comprised about 20% of the activity, and uneven-aged has comprised the rest. Other activities such as recreation and road maintenance would continue and effects on goshawks, which are thought to be minimal, would not change from the current condition.

This alternative would result in another 1,027 acres of modified clear cutting, 256 acres of selection harvest in northern hardwood stands, 32 acres of over story removal, 309 acres of thinning, 362 acres of opening maintenance, and 50 acres of tag alder regeneration. The timber harvesting activities in this alternative would occur during the winter season when any potential bats are not present in the project. The cumulative effect of this alternative, when added to past and reasonably foreseeable actions, is to continue to regenerate aspen and conduct intermediate harvest treatments in hardwood and conifer forest types, which dominate the project area, and to produce additional age-classes of aspen within the project area. A consequence of these management activities is to reduce the total amount of potential nesting habitat, and provide large tracts of high quality foraging habitat for goshawks. The modified propose action will not contribute any long term negative cumulative effects to potential red-shouldered hawk habitat in the project area
Ammodramus leconteii (Le Conte’s Sparrow) Regional Forester Sensitive Species

This small sparrow, 11-13 cm. in length, can be distinguished by a bright buff-ochre eyebrow stripe and breast, breast not streaked, streaks confined to the side, white strip through the crown and strong stripes on the back.

LeConte’s Sparrows primary breeding range is Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, north central Ontairio, including parts of Hudson and James Bays, North Dakota, and Upper Great Lakes Region (Evers, 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas, pgs. 480-481). In Michigan, Le Conte’s sparrow populations are limited to extensive northern sedge meadows characterized by uninterrupted expanses of herbaceous vegetation, standing water through spring and minimal woody vegetation. Other breeding habitat types include open peatlands, dry alvars, short grass openings. Nests are placed in rank vegetation, rarely over water, covered with dead grasses and well concealed (Evers, 1991). In the western Upper Peninsula, distribution is irregular and extremely local (Evers, 1991, In Brewer, et al., 1991, Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas, pgs. 536-537).

Le Conte’s sparrow migrates north to breeding areas usually March – April. Eggs are laid from late May to early July, clutch size is 3-5 with incubation by the female, lasting 11-13 days. Foods are seeds and insects. (Www.natureserve.org 2000). Periodic burning or mowing to maintain to prevent woody encroachment will maintain suitable habitat. Because this species is secretive and occupies habitats not regularly or thoroughly censused, LeContes sparrow has low rate of detectability. Therefore, there is limited information with which to estimate abundance. Monitoring is recommended to detect presence on the Forest, and to estimate available habitat and evaluate risk to species via habitat loss or change (due to management activities).
Alternatiave 1 (No Action)

The No Action Alternative would not result in any new construction, re-construction maintenance or decommissioning of roads, or vegetative management actions or connected actions by the Forest Service. Therefore, there would be no direct effects to potential Le Conte’s sparrow habitat from the No Action Alternative. There is an existing network of roads, some useable by pick up trucks, some passable with ATVs and some accessible by foot traffic.

In this alternative there would be no opening maintenance activities on the 362 acres of upland openings in the project area. In time these openings would give way to shrubs and trees. As the open field seral stage gave way to dominance by woody plants this potential habitat component for the Le Conte’s sparrow would disappear reducing the amount of potential habitat in the project area.

This alternative would not afffect the wetlands in the project area. The majorityof the wetlands within theproject area are classified as scrub shrub wetlands, with approximately 24 acres of sedge wetlands. The project area does not have the type of Le Conte’s sparrow sedge wetlands habitat identified in the literature.

Cumulative effects

The cumulative effects are considered at the project area scale. There is no quality habitat for the Le Conte’s sparrow in the project area. No new potential habitat for the sparrow would be created in this alternative and exisitng potential upland opening habitat would decline in quality as woody vegetation increases. There would be a small cumulative effect to potential LeConte’s sparrow habitat in the project area.


Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action)

This alternative proposes the following actions 1,027 acres of modified clear cutting, 256 acres of selection harvest in northern hardwood stands, 32 acres of over story removal, 309 acres of thinning, 362 acres of opening maintenance, 162 acres of under story scarification for natural conifer regeneration, and 50 acres of tag alder regeneration.

The harvest activities will not have any direct or indirect effects on potential LeConte’s sparrow habitat, because the species does not breed, nest or forage in forested habitats. The harvesting treatments will not change any of the upland openings or any of the few acres of sedge wetlands in the project area as potential sparrow habitat. The tag alder regeneration will not have any direct or indirect effects on potential LeConte’s sparrow habitat, because the alder wetlands are not breding, nesting, or foraging habitat for the sparrow.

The opeining maintenace proposed in this alternative will have a beneficdial impact on potential sparrow habitat by reducing the woody vegetation in the exisitng upland openings and maintaining these openings as potential breeding, nesting and foraging habitat.

Cumulative effects

Cumulative effects for the LeConte’s sparrow werer assessed at the project area scale. There is no quality habitat for the LeConte’s sparrow in the project area, as the habitat for the sparrow is described in the literature. The past, present, and proposed furture harvest activities will not have any cumulative impacts on potential sparrow habitat in the project area. Present and future maintenace of the upland openings will have a beneficial impact on potential sparrow habitat in the project area.


Buteo lineatus (Red-shouldered Hawk) Regional Forester Sensitive Species / State Threatened

Red-shouldered hawk populations have declined in Michigan since the early 1900's. Most breeding pairs are now concentrated in the northern Lower Peninsula, with limited populations in the Upper Peninsula. Many thousands of acres were surveyed for red-shouldered hawks during the summer’s of 2000 and 2001 by Ottawa biological staff, and only one positive response was obtained (east of Frost Junction in Houghton County). The actual nest was not located, however. Factors thought to be limiting red-shouldered hawk populations include loss of habitat, contaminants, competition with red-tailed hawks (among others), and human disturbance, including falconry (Hands et al. 1989). In the northern part of its range, including Michigan, this hawk is migratory, arriving in northern Michigan in March and staying until late fall (Ebbers, 1991).

Preferred nesting habitat for red-shouldered hawks is forested floodplains or mature bottomland forest (Hands et al. 1989; Ebbers, 1991). In recent years, nests have been found in large mature hardwood or mixed hardwood/conifer stands (seldom oak or pine forests) near water, such as a wetland, river, or pond, and even in some upland forests where grassy meadows can replace wetlands as hunting habitat (Ebbers, 1991; TNC 1999). Nest areas contain large, low-branching hardwood trees, a relatively closed canopy, and varying amounts of understory vegetation. Nests are usually built in the main crotch of a large hardwood, about halfway up the tree and far from the forest edge (TNC 1999). Foraging habitat for red-shouldered hawks has not been well defined, but often includes open forests, forested wetlands, open wetlands, and other open habitats. Preferred prey include amphibians, snakes, small mammals, and insects such as grasshoppers (Hands et al. 1989).
The project area is boundedon the west and northwest by the Cisco Branch or;the Ontonagon River and the South Branch of the Ontonagon River and the project area is bisected by Sucker Creek. There are two small smaller creeks; Redlight and Chaote. The project are has scattered ponds and wetlands. Potions of the South Branch of the Ontonagon River has oxbows, overflow channels and a some forested floodplain (located on the west boundary of the project area) which could provide some potential nesting habitat. Otherpotential, though less likely, places for red-shoulders to nest in the project area are along the smaller Sucker Creek, and the Cisco Branch of the Ontonagon River on the western boundary of the project area. These creeks contain oxbows, forested bottomlands, beaver ponds, and meadows surrounded by deciduous forests. Red shouldered hawk taped call play back surveys are scheduled for the spring of 2002.

For the purposes of this BE, all thedeciduous hardwood stands (aspen and northern hardwoods) with a stand basal area of 80 square feet per acre or greater and average stand diameter 8 inches and larger. size/density class 8 or 9 will be considered potentially nesting habitat. Also, most of the wetland and open riparian areas in the project area could provide potential foraging habitat.


Alternative 1 (No Action)

This alternative would not have any direct effect on potential red-shouldered hawk habitat, since there would not be any harvesting within the project area and natural succession would not be expected to diminish the quality of hardwood nesting habitat or riparian and wetland areas used for foraging. Conversely, these areas would be expected to improve in quality as natural succession occurs in the second-growth forests that make up the project area.



Cumulative Effects

There should be no cumulative effects from this alternative since no management would be implemented and natural processes would not reduce habitat suitability.


Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action)

This alternative proposes the following actions 1,027 acres of modified clear cutting, 256 acres of selection harvest in northern hardwood stands, 32 acres of over story removal, 309 acres of thinning, 362 acres of opening maintenance, and 50 acres of tag alder regeneration. The timber harvesting activities in this alternative would occur during the winter season when any potential bats are not present in the project.

The project area has 2,477 acres of aspen and northern hardwood stands with a stand basal area of 80 square feet of basal area (BA)per acre and average stand diameter 8 inches in dbh or larger. Some of these stands could be potential nesting habitat. The modified proposed action will remove 41% of the deciduous hardwood stands (1,027 acres of modified aspen clear cuts) that have at least 80 BA and have a stand diameter greater than 8 inches in diameter in the 1.1 MA portion of the project area. None of the modified clearcuts proposed are in either Wild and Scenic River corridor for the Cisco Branch or the South Branch of the Ontonagon Rivers. The potential red-shouldered hawk nesting habitat and foraging habitat in the W&S river corridors will not be affected. There are some modified clear cuts proposed near Sucker creek. and these modified clear cuts may remove about 224 acres potential nesting habitat. The modified clear cutting of the 224 acres near Sucker creek will have a small negative effect of removing some potential red-shouldered hawk nesting habitat. Overall, though, the best potential red-shouldered hawk habitat in the project area will not be affected.

The Modified Proposed Action would include 256 acres of selection harvest and the 309 acres of thinnings to reduce competition and allow for increased growth in remaining trees. Canopy closure would remain high (>75%) after the harvest, and some large-diameter trees would be retained, so potential nesting habitat in these stands should not be affected greatly. If quality is reduced, it should be re-gained after several growing seasons. Most of the harvest in these stands would occur in the winter or late summer, so there would not be disturbance during the breeding season in most instances. Roads built to access the harvested stands would be closed to passenger vehicles after harvest, but ATVs would be allowed to use them, which could lead to disturbance of nesting hawks. The thinnings and selection harvests will produce only small, and short term direct effects on potential red-shouldered hawk nesting habitat in the project

Opening maintenance of 362 ac, would also maintain some potential foraging areas for red-shoulders. These openings are dispersed across the project area, including some adjacent to the Cisco Branch and the South Branch of the Ontonagon Rivers. The openings provide potential supplemental foraging areas for red-shouldered hawks in the project area, although these openings are more likely to be used by red-tailed and broad-winged hawks. The opening maintenance will provide some potential positive direct effects for foraging areas in the project area.


Project Design Criteria: To avoid impacts to red-shouldered hawk habitat components, the following Project Design Criteria should be applied: (see goshawk section in this biological evaluation).

Cumulative Effects

Cumulative effects analysis for the red-shouldered hawk was conducted at the Project scale. This area was selected because it is large enough to address habitat and movement concerns for a species that has a relatively large home range and because vegetation and treatment information is readily available for the area. As discussed under goshawk cumulative effects, the area is an aging second-growth forest, dominated by aspen and mixed aspen stands. The project area has some ponds and wetlands that have potential as red-shouldered hawk foraging habitat. The Wild and Scenic River Corridors for the Cisco Branch and the South Branch of the Ontongon Rivers provides potential nesting and foraging habitat for the red shouldered hawk. There have been modified clear cuts in the aspen stands and treatments in hardwood stands in the Project Area under the current Forest Plan (1986-2001). The past, present and proposed management actions have concentrated on the aspen resource in the project area. In the last 15 years about 214 acres of aspen were clear cut. This past action combined with the 1,027 acres of aspen type proposed for harvest will cumulatively reduced the amount of potential red-shouldered hawk neting habitat in the project area. There will still be over 1,450 acres of deciduous forest stands with a basal area of 80 square feet per acre in stands with an average stand diameter greater than 8 inches.

Some past management has altered vegetative conditions near riparian areas, which likely reduced red-shouldered hawk potential prey and foraging habitat. However the Choate VMP alternatives include design criteria to protect riparian areas. The Wild and Scenic River Corridors for the Cisco Branch and the South Branch of the Ontonagon River will providethe best potential red-shouldered hawk nesting and foraging habitat in the project area There are no harvest treatments proposed in any of the action alternatives for ;the W&S River corridors in the Choate VMP.

If an active red-shouldered hawk territory is found in the project area, nest protection measures would be instituted (. Therefore, none of the action alternatives are expected to add to cumulative effects for red-shouldered hawks in the project area.
The modified propose action will not contribute any long term negative cumulative effects to potential red-shouldered hawk habitat in the project area.
Chlidonias niger (Black Tern) Regional Forester's Sensitive / State Special Concern

Black terns require wetlands with dense emergent vegetation interspersed with areas of open water for breeding (Brewer 1991). They are semi-colonial and therefore prefer relatively large wetlands, though smaller wetlands can be used if they are part of a larger wetland complex in a small area. Nests are typically placed on floating mats of vegetation in areas of relatively dense vegetation over shallow water, and near open water. They may also be placed on old muskrat lodges, floating wood or old grebe or coot nests (TNC 9/29/99). No large marshes or wetland complexes occur in the project area. Therefore, there is no suitable nesting habitat for black terns and no further analysis needed.

Cygnus buccinator (Trumpeter Swan) Regional Forester's Sensitive/State Threatened

Once confined mainly in Alaska, western Canada, and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, this species has made a remarkable recovery due to restoration programs. In Michigan, such a program is currently underway, releasing sub-adult swans in suitable nesting habitat in several areas of the state. Thirteen trumpeter swans were released on the Ottawa National Forest between 1997 and 1999. These swans have used small lakes and ponds for foraging and resting; but no nesting is documented at this time. Trumpeter swans breed in emergent vegetation in lakes, ponds, and marshes. Their nests are large masses of vegetation, often placed on an island or muskrat or beaver lodge (Adams 1991; www.tnc.org 10/12/99). The project area does not include lakes that could be suitable breeding, nesting, foraging and/or resting areas. Since no suitable nesting habitat occurs in the project area, there is no further analysis needed for this species.

Dendroica kirtlandii (Kirtland’s Warbler) State Endangered/Federal Endangered

The Kirtland’s warbler is a tiny bluish-gray songbird with a yellow breast and a black streak on its back. The male’s plumage is brighter than the female’s, and the male has a black mask. Both sexes have a distinct whitish eye-ring split in front and behind. The bird has a habit of constantly bobbing its tail up and down. Except for singing males, most activities of the Kirtland’s warbler are concentrated low in the pines or near or on the ground. Primarily an insect eater, Kirtland’s warblers forage for insects and larvae near the ground and in lower parts of pines and oaks, They also eat blueberries and pine sap; adults feed soft berries to their young. (Probst, 1991, in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Michigan).

Kirtland’s warbler nest only on the ground near the lower branches of large stands of young jack pine that are five to 20 feet tall and six to 22 years old. A pair of Kirtland’s warblers requires at least eight acres of young jack pine forest to nest, but usually needs 30-40 acres to raise a nest of young. Nearly all pines in the stand must be small and a tract must be at least 80 acres to attract the species. Ideal habitat consists of homogenous thickets of small jack pine interspersed with many small openings and ample ground cover (8-20 cm high). The peak utilization of jack pine stands occurs in stands between 11 and 17 years in naturally burned stands, and 13 to 18 years old in plantations. Abandonment of an area, for breeding, usually occurs after <22 years in naturally burned stands and plantations. Its exacting nesting habitat requirements, as well as cowbird parasitism, caused a drastic decline in its numbers and led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Kirtland’s warbler as an endangered species in 1973. The species is migratory and follows an almost direct route from its breeding range to the Bahamas. They arrive in Michigan in May and leave the breeding area in late August and early September. Eggs are laid in late May-June (also July for re-nesting). The female incubates the eggs for 13-15 days. Young are tended by both parents, and leave the nest at 8-12 days. The breeding population has been steadily increasing in recent years, due to habitat management actions. In 2001, 1085 singing males were counted, which was the highest number ever documented since surveys began.

Kirtland’s warblers are found only in ten counties on Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and four counties in the Upper Peninsula. They have been found in two counties in Wisconsin and in a portion of Ontario, Canada. (USDI-Fish and Wildlife Service – Region 3, 1996) After eleven years of breeding bird surveys, there are no sightings on the Ottawa National Forest. There are sightings and nesting within ¼ mile of the Forest with the most recent documentation in 2000. No birds were heard or seen in 2001 near the Forest. Very few stands meet the habitat requirements on the Forest. Generally, Forest stands are either too small in size or too old to meet the habitat requirements.
The Kirtland’s warbler Recovery Plan has a goal to establish 1,000 breeding pairs. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been actively managing about 140,000 acres of public lands specifically for Kirtland’s warbler breeding. The recovery plan recommends that 30,000 acres of warbler nesting habitat always be available – enough to reach the recovery goal; about. 2,000 acres of forest are clear-cut and two-year-old jack pine seedlings are planted each year (USDI-Fish and Wildlife Service, 1986).
There is no suitable habitat, potentially suitable habitat, or sighting of Kirtland’s warbler in the project area. Therefore, no effects analyses will be conducted and no risk assessment or determination completed for this species.

Falco peregrinus (Peregrine Falcon) Regional Forester's Sensitive/State Endangered

Peregrine falcons were formerly listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, but were de-listed in 1999. The falcon is still listed under Michigan’s Endangered Species Act as endangered. This falcon nests primarily on ledges or in cavities on relatively large cliff faces. These cliffs are typically near large lakes, coastlines, or large wetland complexes where waterfowl and passerines, the peregrine's main prey, are concentrated and that offer open-air hunting (Hess 1991). One nest site has been documented within the Ottawa, in the Trap Hills, but that site has not been productive for several years. There are no cliffs or other nesting habitat within many miles of the project area, nor are there typical foraging areas within the project area, so no use of the area by peregrines is expected. Therefore, there would be no direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to peregrine falcons from this project, and there will be no further analysis for the peregrine falcon. There will be no risk assessment or determination completed for this species.

Halieetus luecocephalus (Bald Eagle) State Threatened/Federal Threatened

Bald eagles typically inhabit areas near lakes and large rivers which contain their primary prey (fish and waterfowl) (Brewer 1991). Eagles feed primarily on live fish, and to a lesser extent on waterfowl and carrion (esp. deer carcasses in the U.P.). Bald eagles build nests in the top of a large, tall tree with a commanding view of the nesting territory, usually within a short distance of a large river or lake that is used for fishing by the adults. Waterbodies containing abundant fish are common across the Forest, and most of these waters have suitable nest trees surrounding them. Bald eagle populations continue to increase throughout their range, including the Ottawa. About 57 active territories currently exist on the Forest (Postupalsky 2002), and the recovery goal described in the Forest Plan is 65 active pairs.


At this time, there are no documented nests inside the Choate analysis area. There is no suitable nesting habitat within the project area, nor are there typical foraging areas within the project area, so no breeding use of the area by bald eagles is expected. Therefore, there would be no direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to peregrine falcons from this project, and there will be no further analysis for the bald eagle. There will be no risk assessment or determination completed for this species.
Project Design Criteria: To avoid impacts to bald eagle habitat in the event a bald eagle nest is discovered, the following Project Design Criteria should be applied:

  1. Bald eagle nest sites will be managed and protected utilizing the following direction in the Northern States Bald Eagle Recovery Plan (1983): (A) from 0 to 330 feet from the nest tree, all land use activities will be excluded except those necessary to protect nest sites; (B) from 330 to 660 feet from the nest tree, land use activities will be permitted when there will be no significant changes to the landscape. Activities such as intermediate harvest, rehabilitation of permanent openings, and pruning may occur from August 1 to February 15. Clearcutting, land clearing, and construction activities will not be permitted in this area. Specific management activities may be initiated in this zone to ensure the continued presence of nest and roost trees, e.g., planting white pine and maintaining existing sub-canopy white pine; and (C) from 660 to 1320 feet from the nest tree, site disturbing land use activities will not be permitted from February 15 to August 1 (when justified, this zone may be extended beyond 1320 feet).



Oporornis agilis (Connecticut warbler) Regional Forester's Sensitive Species

The Connecticut warbler is an uncommon, elusive neotropical migrant. They forage for invertebrates and build their nests on the ground under low, dense shrubs (Niemi and Hanowski 1992). Their habit of remaining concealed within dense shrubbery makes them difficult to detect (McPeek and Adams 1994, pgs 277-279). They are one of the latest of spring migrants, arriving on their breeding grounds in Michigan in mid-May to early-June (Binford 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas, pgs. 440 and 441). The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is near the southern edge of the Connecticut warbler’s breeding range, which is primarily to the north in the Canadian provinces. Nonetheless, it is widespread in the Upper Peninsula, occurring in every county. However, occurrences are localized. This species does not use all of the available suitable habitat where it occurs in Michigan (Binford 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas, pgs. 440 and 441).


The Connecticut warbler breeds in a variety of habitats in Michigan, including both wet and dry sites in a variety of forest types. Black spruce and tamarack bogs are important breeding habitat (Binford 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas, pgs. 440 and 441; Robbins 1991, pgs 514-516). Many breeding records are from areas with mature aspen mixed with white birch, bracken fern, spruce, balsam fir, and/or white pine, especially those located near wetland edges (Binford 1991). In northern Wisconsin, considerable numbers of breeding Connecticut warblers have been detected in mature jack pine barrens with dense underbrush (Robbins 1991; pgs 514-516). Connecticut warblers seem to rely primarily on dense undergrowth for nesting and foraging, making a well-developed understory the primary habitat requirement (McPeek and Adams 1994; pgs 277-279).

On the Ottawa National Forest, Connecticut warblers have been detected during annual breeding bird counts seven times between 1991-2001, at six different sites. Forest habitats at these six sites varied from deciduous to coniferous and often included white pine, red maple, aspen spp. and balsam fir. The most consistent factor among stands was high ground cover, though the species of ground cover varied by site. Several sites were at the edge of wetlands or in stands adjacent to wetlands. In addition, surveys for Connecticut warblers were conducted across the Forest during the breeding season in 2000 using a combination of call-back and passive listening. Several singing males were detected in edge habitats, including in young aspen adjacent to another forest type and the edge between mature forest and relatively open wetland. The Choate project area has not yet been surveyed for Connecticut warblers. Surveys are scheduled for the spring of 2002.
Based on the information presented above, biologists are uncertain what habitat is preferred by Connecticut warblers on the Ottawa NF. Therefore, for this analysis it is assumed that any relatively mature overstory forest type could be suitable as long as there is a substantial understory layer, including low ground cover. Edge habitats, where the shrub layer is often thick and diverse, may be suitable regardless of overstory canopy. As we learn more about this species on the Forest, our knowledge of habitat requirements will be refined and our analyses may change in future BEs.

In the Choate project area, stands of mature aspen with bracken fern, white spruce, balsam fir and or white pine located near wetland edges, regenerating stands of aspen <15 years old, and open-canopy hardwood stands with a dense layer of aspen or hardwood saplings would also provide potentially suitable habitat, especially along the edges where they meet mature deciduous or mixed stands. Jack pine stands, are not present in the Choate project area. The interiors of large, closed-canopy northern hardwoods stands are not likely to provide suitable habitat for Connecticut warblers. Interspersion of these potenial habitats would make suitable Connecticut warbler habitat patchily distributed within the project area.

Alternative 1 (No Action)

This alternative would not directly alter any potential Connecticut warbler habitat, because there are no treatment actions planned. This alternative would have mostly neutral or negative long term indirect effects on potential warbler habitat. Black ash stands, lowland conifer bogs, and other riparian areas (the edges of which may be the best habitat for Connecticut warblers in the area) would not be affected in these areas. Aspen and mixed stands would mature and open up through individual tree mortality or small patch blowdown. A dense understory of deciduous and coniferous vegetation should begin to develop, which could provide temporary habitat for the warbler. As these dense stands grow and the canopy closes, the understory would eventually thin out and potential habitat for the warbler would decline. Many of these stands would eventually convert to mature northern hardwoods stands. Conversion of aspen and mixed stands containing aspen to other forest types would probably result in long-term declines in the quantity of suitable Connecticut warbler habitat.

The No Action Alternative would not substantially alter habitat availability in the near-term, therefore, direct effects would not be expected. The long-term indirect effects could be negative as forest stands mature and their understories thin, but this would be a gradual process and warblers would have time to adjust or move as necessary. Binford (1991) comments that because this species can use a variety of forested habitats, it is not in immediate danger in Michigan.

Cumulative Effects

The Project Area was used as the cumulative effect area for this species because it is large enough to address habitat at a landscape scale. Past, present and likely future events within the Project Area have been presented previously in this BE. Further, composition of the Project Area has been discussed previously (e.g. gray wolf section).

The variability in Connecticut warbler habitat means that it cannot be quantified with the information currently available. However, some inferences about the cumulative effects of past management activities on this species can be made. Forested wetlands (i.e. black ash stands); and other riparian areas (the edges of which may be good potential habitat for Connecticut warblers) are generally not treated during vegetative management projects. These habitats have been largely unaffected by recent timber harvest activities on National Forest land in the Project Area. Clearcutting and partial cuts, which increase the amount of dense shrubbery, are the primary activities that would impact potential Connecticut warbler populations, and these have been occurring throughout the Project Area. It is assumed that both activities have a positive effect on this warbler because they stimulate development of the shrubby habitats required by Connecticut warblers, although clearcutting might have a short-term (several year) negative effect until the aspen stands regenerate.
In total, this alternative would have little cumulative effect upon Connecticut warblers. Individuals may be affected, but changes would be very gradual and birds could adapt or disperse.

Alternative 2(Modified Proposed Action)

The potential exists for direct mortality due to logging activities, especially summer logging. However, the operating season would most likely run from July 15- March 15, although logging could take place outside of that interval if soil conditions are dry enough. If Connecticut warblers are using these stands, there is a chance that harvest activity could result in mortality of nestlings or perhaps adults on nests. The potential for these impacts is unknown. Some warbler broods may fledge by July 15. These birds would probably not be affected by logging occuring after July 15 because fledged warblers would be flighted and mobile by then. Aspen clearcutting would occur during winter to maximize sprouting, so mortality is not a concern in these stands.

The modified clearcuts on 1,027 acres would would remove the mature aspen, which would remove the canopy to stimulate growth aspen suckers an. This would provide short-term habitat for Connecticut warblers, especially along the newly-created edges between regenerating stands and adjacent mature forest or riparian buffers or adjdacent to upland openings..

Under Alternative 2, about 256 acres would receive management treatment. Individual tree selection harvest in northern hardwood stands would temporarily stimulate understory growth, possibly creating short-term habitat for Connecticut warblers if the understory becomes dense enough. In time, however, the understory would again thin out as the canopy closes. These areas would probably then revert to habitat conditions that are unsuitable for Connecticut warblers.

Thinnings in 309 acres in in northern hardwood stands, and red pine plantations would open the canopy considerably, which would result in increased understory growth of trees, shrubs, and forbs. Overall, the 309 acres of thinning harvest cuts should increase the quantity of short-term Connecticut warbler nesting habitat in the project area.

Although there is some chance of direct effects upon individual Connecticut warblers, these effects are not expected to impact the population. Indirect effects are expected to be largely beneficial.


Cumulative Effects

Some potential exists for direct mortality of Connecticut warblers from actions associated with logging. However, at the Project Area scale the cumulative effects of this mortality are not expected to impact the population. The individual tree selection, hardwood thinning cuts, and modified clearcuts with proposed under Alternative 2 would increase the amount of short-term Connecticut warbler habitat available in the Project Area compared to Alternative 1. Cumulatively the past, proposed, and future activities would increase the amount of habitat with dense understories required by Connecticut warblers. These treatments have been occurring for years, so potentially-suitable habitat would remain available. This trend will continue in the foreseeable future. The potential impacts to Connecticut warbler habitat from this alternative are expected to be largely beneficial. Therefore it is likely that the net cumulative effect of implementing Alternative 2 would be neutral or perhaps beneficial at the Project Area scale.



Picoides arcticus (Black-backed Woodpecker) Regional Forester's Sensitive Species / Special Concern

The black-backed woodpecker is medium sized (L 9 1/2”) with a solid black back and barred sides. Males have a yellow cap. Most woodpeckers have four toes; these have only three. They range from central and western Alaska to northern Saskatchewan and Labrador, south to California, South Dakota, Minnesota, southeastern Ontario and northern New England. They are reported sporadically on the Ottawa. Breeding was documented on the Forest in 2001 near Camp Nesbit. Additionally, the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Michigan (Evers, 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, pages 270-271) has a few confirmed breeding sites in the area.


The black-backed requires mature and old growth boreal forest types such as black spruce/tamarack bogs, white cedar swamps, mixed forest with hemlock or jack pine plains (Evers, 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, pgs 270-271). Other than jack pine, the Ottawa generally does not actively manage these forest types. They also require decadent trees with wood boring beetles that typically appear approximately 5 years after damage such as fire (Evers, 1991 In Brewer, et al., 1991, pgs 270-271; NatureServe, 2000). Nests are in excavated holes in snags, partially dead trees, or live trees with dead heartwood. Nest trees are often near water in conifers of about 21-23 cm dbh. This species has suffered declines due to fire suppression, removal of dead and insect damaged trees and loss of mature and old growth habitat. Management needs include restoring natural fire regimes, retaining snags and cavity-capable trees, leaving insect damaged trees, fallen logs, and preserving areas of mature to old growth trees (NatureServe, 2000).

In the project area, approximately 1,073 acres of stands are potentially suitable nesting/foraging habitat (mature white spruce, mixed swamp conifer, balsam fir-spruce-aspen-birch, black spruce, tamarack, white cedar,). No jack pine forest types exist in the project area. There are no observations of this woodpecker in the project area


Alternative 1 (No Action)

Since no additional management would occur under this alternative, potential black-backed woodpecker habitat would be changed by natural succession. Most areas currently providing potential habitat would continue to do so. Generally, natural succession in the suitable forest types would increase habitat quality through recruitment of large snags and high insect populations. Large natural disturbance events such as wind or fire would also create an abundance of snags and damaged trees, thus favoring wood-boring insects. Potential impacts to black-backed woodpeckers would be indirect and largely positive through natural succession or natural disturbances.


Cumulative Effects

The Project Area was used as the cumulative effects area for this species; past, present and reasonably foreseeable future events have been summarized previously in this BE. Acreage figures by ownership, by forest types, and other parameters have also been summarized previously in this BE.


Most of the harvesting has been in forest types not suitable for these woodpeckers (e.g. improvement/ selection treatments of northern hardwoods, or modified clear cuts in aspen stands. Generally, the Ottawa does only limited forest management in the forest types that are considered the best habitat for this species.
Relative to future actions, there is no future harvest scheduled at this time.
Other activities, such as recreation and road maintenance, would continue and effects on black-backed woodpeckers, which are thought to be minimal, would not change from the current condition.

The potential impacts to black-backed woodpeckers from this alternative are indirect, positive, and spread over the long-term. These impacts would be related to the continued growth and ageing of the conifer stands. As these stands age, tree mortality will increase creating the dead and dying trees that the black-backed woodpeckers rely upon for feeding sites and cavity excavating sites. They should not add to effects of past or expected actions noticeably. Therefore, there should be no cumulative effects.

Alternative 2 (Modified Proposed Action)

One of the limiting factors for black-backed woodpeckers is thought to be large-diameter trees with cavities for nesting and roosting, and snags and trees of all sizes for foraging. The “Modified Proposed Action” section presented in Chapter 2 of the EA contains a number of measures designed to retain existing snags and cavity trees, and to enable recruitment of large diameter potential cavity trees into the future. These include:


Existing snags and culls will be retained where possible and safe. These are the key trees that are used, as nest and day roosts, and this measure should facilitate retention of the key habitat elements throughout the managed stands.

The modified clearcuts on 1,027 acres would would remove the mature aspen, which would remove the canopy to stimulate growth aspen suckers an. This would provide short-term habitat for Connecticut warblers, especially along the newly-created edges between regenerating stands and adjacent mature forest or riparian buffers or adjdacent to upland openings..

Under Alternative 2, about 256 acres would receive management treatment. Individual tree selection harvest in northern hardwood stands would temporarily stimulate understory growth, possibly creating short-term habitat for Connecticut warblers if the understory becomes dense enough. In time, however, the understory would again thin out as the canopy closes. These areas would probably then revert to habitat conditions that are unsuitable for Connecticut warblers.

Thinnings in 309 acres in in northern hardwood stands, and red pine plantations would open the canopy considerably, which would result in increased understory growth of trees, shrubs, and forbs. Overall, the 309 acres of thinning harvest cuts should increase the quantity of short-term Connecticut warbler nesting habitat in the project area.

Although there is some chance of minor indirect effects upon potential individua black backed woodpeckers,due to ;the proposed harvest treatments, these effects are not expected to impact any potential population. The actions in the modified proposed action do not include any treatments in forest stands predominately comprised of boreal forest species (i.e. black spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, and cedar), therefore the 1,073 acres of potential black-backed woodpecker habitat in the project area will not be impacted. This alternative is not expected to produce any direct effects on the potential black-backed woodpecker habitat in the project area.





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