Choate vegetation management project

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Project Design Criteria: The following measures will contribute to maintenance of black-backed woodpecker habitat components: Do not mark for removal any active wildlife den trees.
Cumulative Effects
The cumulative effect for the great gray owls are assessed at the project area scale. This scale is large enough to encompss the territory potential territory of a pair of great gray owls. Cumulatively the past, proposed, and future activities have and will continue to focus on the aspen component in the project area. The aspen stands are not primary habitat. Harvestof these stands would have removed some potential nesting sites and may have had some small negative cumulative effect on potential great gray owl habitat in the project area. The distribution of these treatments across the landscape has been concentrated in the upland stands. Lowland conifer has not been managed, and therefore, has been improving in quality. This trend will likely continue in the foreseeable future.

Potential negative effects to black-backed woodpeckers from this alternative are direct and indirect, but are relatively minimal. The best quality habitats (the white cedar and mixed lowland conifer swamps) would not be treated. These 1,073 acres are not scheduled for any harvest treatments. They will continue to provide the core of the potential great gray owl-nesting habitat in the project area. The maintenance of this conifer habitat will out weigh the aspen harvesting and as a result no long term negative cumulative effects to potential great gray owls or potential habitat is expected.

Long term past present and future maintenance of the openings in the project area will continue to provide potential great gray owl foraging habitat, and should contribute any cumulative effects to the great gray owl or potential habitat.

Hemidactylium scutatum (Four-toed Salamander) Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species

This tiny (2”-4” adults) Plethodontid salamander is characterized by four toes on each hind foot, and a distinct constriction where the tail joins the body (Harding and Holman 1992). The species is monotypic, and is widely but discontinuously distributed across the eastern, forested part of the US and southeastern Canada. It is likely more widespread and abundant than records indicate because it is relatively difficult to find. The species is considered secure at a range-wide scale; specifically, it is ranked as S5 (secure) in MI, S4 (apparently secure) in ONT, S3 (vulnerable) in MN and unrankable (SU) in WI (Source:; 10/9/2000).
Adults live in moss or under debris on the forest floor, generally in close association with wetlands (bogs, fens, forested wetlands, scrub/shrub wetlands) and riparian areas. It is most common in cool, shady, undisturbed woods with an abundance of wetlands and slow creeks. Sphagnum moss is abundant in most sites occupied by this species. In early spring, females lay their eggs in masses of moss situated over a pool or sluggish stream, and tend the nest until hatching. When the eggs hatch (~2 months later) the aquatic larvae fall or wiggle into the pool, and metamorphose into terrestrial juveniles by mid-summer. Juveniles attain sexual maturity the next fall, and thus do not breed until their third spring (Harding and Holman, 1992 and 2000).

This salamander is noted for being patchily distributed throughout its range, and has been found in two locations on the Ottawa, both on the southern border of the Forest. Surveys have not been done for this amphibian in the project area.

Due to the depositional patterns in LTA 19 and the characteristics of the clay soils (i.e. fertility, pH) it is not likely that the specific type of breeding habitat required by the four-toed salamander would develop in LTA 19 or in the project area. The type of breeding habitat with sphagnum moss over water is very rare in LTA 19 on the Forest. These breeding habitats are more likely to be found in LTAs 2 and 6 in soils with fragipans (Robert Wagner pers. Comm. March 2002). For these reasons this species will not be analyzed in this biological evaluation.
Acipenser fulvescens (Lake Sturgeon) Regional Forester's Sensitive/State Threatened

The lake sturgeon inhabits larger rivers and lakes. They spawn in water of depth of 2 to 15 feet and in areas of swift water or rapids with a larger rocky or cobble substrate, often even at the foot of low falls that prevent further migration. On the Ottawa, the lake sturgeon is known only from the Sturgeon River in Baraga County. Rivers, streams, and lakes within the project area are not sturgeon habitat. Therefore, there would be no direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to sturgeon from this project, and there will be no further analysis for this species.

Clinostomus elongates (Redside Dace) Regional Forester's Sensitive/State Endangered

Redside dace are thin in appearance with an elongate body form that is strongly compressed laterally. This cyprinid can be recognized by three main anatomical features. First, a crimson-colored lateral band extends from the posterior end of the opercula to about the middle of the body. Second, a very large mouth has a noticeable protrusion of the lower jaw ahead of the upper jaw and no barbel. Third, the side of the fish is divided into a pattern of dark, light, dark and light colors, from top to bottom. The color of the back is dark green shading to yellow or golden at the upper side. A distinct stripe runs along the midside, being dusky along the head, turning to carmine, and then back to dusky about midway along the body. The lower body color is silver to milk-white. Dorsal and pelvic fins contain eight rays, while the anal fin has eight or nine rays, and the pectoral fins have from 14 to 16 rays. A complete lateral line has from 65 to 70 scales. Adults reach about 3.5 inches in length.

The redside dace is found in all the Great Lakes and their tributaries, the Upper Susquehanna River in New York and Pennsylvania, and the Mississippi drainages from southern Ontario west to Minnesota and south to Kentucky. However, the only documented occurrence in the Lake Superior drainage is in tributaries of the Presque Isle River on the Ottawa National Forest. This disjunct population maybe, and probably is, a result of transfer by fisherman of baitfish from Mississippi drainage streams in Wisconsin just south of the Ottawa National Forest. In the Presque Isle drainage, eight of twenty-three sample locations included redside dace in the fish collected in 1999. This fish will be specifically sought in all future stream fish collections on the Ottawa. The Choate project area does not border any portion of the tributaries or watershed where the redside dace is found on the Ottawa National Forest. The nearest known population of redside dace is located about 25 miles west of the project area in the Little Presque Isle River.

In its native habitat it is found in small to medium, cool, clear, rubble and gravel-bottomed streams (Latta, 1998); rocky and sandy pools of headwaters, creeks, and small rivers, with the largest populations in clear, spring-fed streams (, 2000). It also typically occurs in pools with moderate current and overhanging vegetation. It occurs in schools that actively search for food during the daylight hours. It spawns in riffles or shallow flowing pools. As spawning season nears (mid-May), males move from pools to gravel spawning beds in or above a riffle (often the nest of a creek chub). Breeding males have a red band from the gills to the base of the dorsal fin. Both sexes develop breeding tubercles, although those of the female are smaller and fewer in number. At the time of actual spawning, the eggs are deposited among the gravel on the bottom of the nest. It eats mainly insects, especially terrestrial ones, and other invertebrates, especially benthic species. There is no suitable habitat present in this project area and this species will be not be analyzed in this biological evaluation.

Coregonus (Leucichthys) artedi (Cisco, Lake Herring) Regional Forester's Sensitive/State Threatened

The cisco, or lake herring, is an elongate, laterally compressed fish reaching lengths of 8-12 inches. The coloration is silvery on the sides, fading to white on the belly. The color of the back varies but is usually dark, ranging from black to gray or tan. The fins are mostly clear, but can contain dark pigment, often concentrated at the outer margins. The mouth is terminal and the lower jaw frequently protrudes slightly beyond the upper. Twenty-two subspecies have been described, but they have fallen into disuse because there is a large amount of overlap in their distinguishing characteristics, and many of the key characters are subject to environmental variation (Hubbs and Lagler 1974). Ciscos are distributed throughout most of Canada and the entire Great Lakes region, extending nearly to Maine. The habitat of this species is typically cold, oligotrophic lakes that have oxygen at the bottom year-round (Phillips et al 1982). It is primarily an inhabitant of open water, moving into deep water in the spring and shallower water in the late summer as temperatures drop. They feed primarily on zooplankton, but their diet also includes crustaceans, emerging insects, small fish and fish eggs. Ciscos are very important ecologically because they are the main food item of many desirable game fish, principally lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush. Spawning occurs in large aggregations in shallow (3-10 feet) water, preferably over gravelly or rocky substrates, in November or early December (Scott and Crossman 1973). They have been found in the following lakes on the Forest: Big African, Clark, Crooked, Lake Ottawa, Little African, Little Oxbow, Loon, Norwood, Record, Taylor, and Thousand Island.

The habitat of this species is typically cold, oligotrophic lakes that have oxygen at the bottom year-round (Phillips et al 1982). There are no lakes in the project area that fit this description, so no potentially suitable habitat is present, and no effects would occur under any alternatives. Therefore, there would be no direct, indirect, or cumulative effects to the cisco from this project, and there will be no further analysis for this species.

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