I’ve been looking at the second final forest plan and EIS prepared under the 2012 Planning Rule, the Flathead. I want to commend them for some of the things they’ve done.
They have done a very good job of describing desired conditions for many vegetation characteristics based on their natural range of variation. I can tell you that this is the kind of “specific” desired conditions the drafters of the Planning Rule had in mind for providing ecological integrity. They also conducted an analysis of how vegetation conditions would change over time as a result of the plan, while factoring in expected fire regimes, and they were able to use this for some of their analysis of effects on viability of wildlife species that are closely tied to vegetation. I pretty much only looked at the wildlife parts of the EIS, but I thought the terrestrial part was well organized, and included some thoughtful discussion of what plan components actually do. One of my interests is habitat connectivity, and they have given it a more serious look than most, including actually considering and identifying specific areas to be managed for connectivity.
I was looking for problems related to at-risk species, and there are some. Regarding fire, even though they don’t call the wildland-urban interface a “management area,” it is one because a lot of plan components apply differently there.
I’ve also seen how big of a job it is to review and understand something this massive within 60 days, even with only a limited focus – and I’m someone with probably as much experience at this as anyone. It helped to have followed this process off and on from the beginning, but I have some sympathy for organizations trying to promote changes at this point in the process. (There’s much more time to prepare for forest plan litigation.)
Next up? The Inyo is on track for “this spring.”