** Biological Assessment **

 

 

Project Name: 2007 Plantation Thinning

Project Type: Commercial Thinning

 

NEPA Document Name: 2007 Plantation Thinning EA

 

Watershed Analysis:

Lower Clackamas River, Mt. Hood National Forest, 1996

Fish Creek, Mt. Hood National Forest, 1994

Collawash/Hot Springs, Mt. Hood National Forest, 1995

 

Project Location:

HUC 5 Middle Clackamas River HUC #1709001104

HUC 6 Fish Creek

HUC 6 Lower Clackamas River Tributaries

HUC 6 Middle Clackamas River

HUC 5 Collawash River HUC #1709001101

HUC 6 Lower Collawash River Tributaries

HUC 6 Lower Hot Springs Fork

 

Administrative Unit:

Mt. Hood National Forest, Clackamas River Ranger District

 

Prepared By:

Robert Bergamini, Fisheries Biologist, Clackamas River Ranger District

Additional Analysis By:

Ivars Steinblums, Forest Hydrologist, Mt. Hood National Forest

Reviewed By:

Tracii Hickman, Fisheries Biologist, Mt. Hood National Forest

 

Date: December 13, 2006

 

ESA Unit, Critical Habitat, and EFH Addressed in this BA:

 

Listed Species or Habitat

 

ESA Status

ESA/EFH Effects Determination

Lower Columbia River Steelhead

Threatened

NLAA

Critical Habitat LCR Steelhead

Designated

NLAA

Upper Willamette River Chinook Salmon

Threatened

NLAA

Critical Habitat UWR Chinook

Designated

NLAA

Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon

Threatened

NLAA

Critical Habitat LCR Coho Salmon

Not designated

N/A

MSA EFH - Chinook salmon

N/A

NAA

MSA EFH - Coho salmon

N/A

NAA


Table of Contents

 

1. INTRODUCTION.. 3

II. DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED ACTION AND THE ACTION AREA 5

Project Elements. 7

Timber Felling. 7

Yarding. 9

Road Construction/Reconstruction/Landing Construction. 10

Road Maintenance. 11

Log Haul 13

Road Decommissioning. 15

Fuels Treatment 16

Endangered Species Act Action Area. 16

III. STATUS OF LISTED SPECIES. 17

Fisheries Description. 17

Critical Habitat within the Action Area. 17

ESA/EFH Status. 17

Population Size and Distribution. 18

Growth and Survival 20

Life History Diversity and Isolation. 21

Persistence and Genetic Integrity. 23

IV. BASELINE CONDITION AND EFFECTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION TO HABITAT INDICATORS 25

ANALYSIS OF EFFECTS - COLLAWASH 5th FIELD HUC #1709001101. 25

HABITAT INDICATORS. 27

Indicator: Water Temperature. 27

Indicator: Sediment/Turbidity; Substrate Character/Embeddedness. 30

Indicator: Chemical Contaminants/Nutrients. 38

Indicator: Physical Barriers. 40

Indicator: Large Woody Debris (LWD) 40

Indicator: Pool Frequency, Pool Quality, Large Pools, Width/Depth. 44

Indicator: Off-Channel Habitat 47

Indicator: Refugia. 48

Indicator: Streambank Condition. 51

Indicator: Floodplain Connectivity. 52

Indicator: Change in Peak/Base Flow.. 53

Indicator: Increase in Drainage Network. 57

WATERSHED CONDITION INDICATORS. 59

Indicator: Road Density and Location. 59

Indicator: Disturbance History and Disturbance Regime. 61

Indicator: Riparian Reserves. 63

Analysis of Effects Middle Clackamas River 5th field HUC #1709001104 64

HABITAT INDICATORS. 65

Indicator: Water Temperature. 65

Indicator: Sediment/Turbidity; Substrate Character/Embeddedness. 69

Indicator: Chemical Contaminants/Nutrients. 76

Indicator: Physical Barriers. 78

Indicator: Large Woody Debris (LWD) 79

Indicator: Pool Frequency, Pool Quality, Large Pools. 82

Indicator: Off-Channel Habitat 85

Indicator: Refugia. 86

Indicator: Streambank Condition. 89

Indicator: Floodplain Connectivity. 91

Indicator: Change in Peak/Base Flow.. 91

Indicator: Increase in Drainage Network. 95

WATERSHED CONDITION INDICATORS. 98

Indicator: Road Density and Location. 98

Indicator: Disturbance History and Disturbance Regime. 100

Indicator: Riparian Reserves. 102

Indicator: Primary Constituent Elements of Critical Habitat 103

V. ESA EFFECTS DETERMINATION.. 105

VI. AGGREGATED FEDERAL EFFECTS. 106

VII. SUMMARY OF EFFECTS OF THE PROJECT TO REVEVANT INDICATORS. 107

VIII. ESA CUMULATIVE EFFECTS. 108

IX. ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT ASSESSMENT.. 108

X. LITERATURE CITED.. 109

Appendix A.. 112

1. INTRODUCTION

 

The 2007 Plantation Thinning Project is located in watersheds currently providing habitat for the following Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs): Lower Columbia River (LCR) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Upper Willamette River (UWR) chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Lower Columbia River (LCR) chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and Lower Columbia River (LCR) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). These species are listed as Threatened and are protected under the Endangered Species Act. This Biological Assessment (BA) evaluates the effects the project may have on these fish, their habitat or designated critical habitat, and evaluates the effect of the project on Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as designated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Because LCR chinook occur over 25 miles downstream of the project area on the mainstem Clackamas River, a No Effect (NE) determination is warranted for this species. Therefore, effects to LCR chinook will not be addressed further in the BA. Critical habitat is currently not designated for coho. If critical habitat were to be listed for coho, the analysis and effects described in this document would encompass effects to coho critical habitat.

 

This BA was prepared in accordance with the following guidance and direction:

 

        Analytical Process (AP) for Development of Biological Assessments for Consultation on Federal Actions Affecting Fish Proposed or Listed Under the Endangered Species Act Within the Northwest Forest Plan Area (Interagency Guidelines, November 2004),

 

        Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended),

 

        50 CFR 402.12 (Interagency Cooperation, Biological Assessments),

 

        Endangered Species Consultation Handbook (USFWS and NMFS, March 1998),

 

        Streamlined Consultation Procedures for Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (FS, NMFS, BLM,& USFWS, July 1999), and

 

        Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act ( 305(b)) and its implementing regulations (50CFR 600).

 

This AP was prepared in conjunction with the recent efforts to clarify language in the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan Record of Decision regarding the Aquatic Conservation Strategy, and in response to concerns raised in previous litigation. NOAA Fisheries has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Forest Service (FS) to revise the methods for making determinations of effect for land management activities impacting ESA-listed salmonid species in the Northwest Forest Plan geographical area. This new approach was used to assess the effects of the proposed action. In this regard, the constituent activities or elements of the proposed action were analyzed for potential effects on the Lower Columbia River steelhead, Upper Willamette River Chinook, and Lower Columbia River coho salmon ESUs due to changes in the habitat pathways of water quality, habitat access, habitat elements, channel conditions and dynamics, flow/hydrology, and watershed conditions. In applying the revised analysis approach, the agencies consider eight factors, derived largely from the joint NOAA Fisheries and Fish and Wildlife Service ESA Section 7 Consultation Handbook, when evaluating the effects of an action on habitat indicators and subsequently the effects on ESA-listed fish. These factors are proximity, probability, magnitude (severity and intensity), nature, distribution, frequency, duration, and timing, where applicable.

 

The analysis considered the potential direct and indirect effect of the projects elements on each habitat indicator and then utilized the relevant factors to determine if there was an effect and whether it was significant, insignificant, discountable, or beneficial. A summary for each habitat indicator was developed to ascertain whether effects from various elements combine to create adverse effects on any of the indicators. These effects are combined with the effects of other concurrent Federal action consultations and any interrelated or interdependent actions related to the proposed project to reach an overall effect determination for this project.


II. DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED ACTION AND THE ACTION AREA

 

Actions in the 2007 Plantation Thinning project area are designed to improve the health and diversity of previously harvested young stands that are currently in an overstocked condition. The purpose of this proposal is to apply silvicultural treatments to these young stands depending on the resource management objective. Treatments objectives include: maintain or improve health, vigor, and growth that results in larger wind firm trees, to enhance and restore stand diversity, to accelerate the development of mature and late-successional stand conditions in late successional and riparian reserves, to accelerate future large woody debris recruitment potential and snag habitat production, and to supply forest products consistent with the Northwest Forest Plan goal of maintaining the stability of local and regional economies.

 

The Mt. Hood National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, as amended, includes resource management goals to maintain or enhance forest conditions at the stand and landscape level; to maintain high quality water resources; aquatic habitat for fish, and terrestrial habitat diversity for wildlife and plants; scenic quality; and to provide timber products. The Forest Service is directed to meet these goals when planning projects at the site-specific level.

 

The 2007 Plantation Thinning project proposes to thin and commercially harvest wood fiber in young plantations on approximately 4,374 acres within the Middle Clackamas River and Collawash River 5th field watersheds of the Clackamas River. The Collawash River watershed and the corridor of the Middle Clackamas River watershed are designated as Tier I key watersheds under the Northwest Forest Plan because they contain crucial refugia for at-risk fish species. The project is located in T.5S., R.5E.; T.5S., R.6E.; T.6S., R.6E.; T.7S., R.6E.; T.7S., R.5E.; Willamette Meridian.

 

The project is covered by three watershed analysis. Approximately 2,365 acres of the project is covered by the Lower Clackamas River Watershed Analysis (1996). Approximately 1,414 acres of the project is covered by the Collawash/Hot Springs Fork Watershed Analysis (1995) amended in 2003. Approximately 595 acres of the project is covered by the Fish Creek Watershed Analysis (1994). Since then, fifth-field watersheds have been redrawn. The Collawash River and the Hot Springs Fork have been combined into one fifth-field watershed called Collawash River. Several watersheds including Lower Clackamas River and Fish Creek have been combined into one fifth-field watershed called Middle Clackamas. All of these watershed analyses recommend thinning plantations. In addition, a finding of the North Willamette Late-Successional Reserve (LSR) Assessment (1998) recommends thinning plantations. Approximately 1,237 acres of LSR proposed for thinning are covered under this analysis.

 

The Middle Clackamas River and Collawash River watersheds currently provide habitat for the following Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs): Lower Columbia River (LCR) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Upper Willamette River (UWR) chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and Lower Columbia River (LCR) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). These species and their designated critical habitat (except coho) are listed as Threatened and are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Other fish occupying these watersheds include large-scale suckers, sculpin, longnose dace, and pacific lamprey. All of the subwatersheds within the project area support populations of resident rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) or cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki).

 

Listed fish habitat (LFH), which is defined as any stream reach potentially occupied by a ESA protected fish species, any stream reach designated as Critical Habitat, or any stream reach designated as Essential Fish Habitat occurs for all of the above ESUs downstream of the project area in the mainstem Clackamas River, Collawash River, Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River and adjacent to the project area in Lower Fish Creek subwatershed. In addition, LFH for LCR steelhead occurs adjacent to project area in Big Creek and Trout Creek, and downstream of the project area in Pup Creek, Sandstone Creek, Thunder Creek, Fan Creek, and Farm Creek.

 

The Middle Clackamas River 5th field watershed is 138,598 acres in size and contains 53.1 miles of anadromous streams, 141.7 miles of resident fish bearing streams, and approximately 763 miles of non-fish bearing streams. The watershed is comprised of the mainstem Clackamas River and watersheds that drain into the Clackamas from North Fork Reservoir to the confluence of the Collawash River. The major subwatersheds that contribute to the Middle Clackamas River include: the South Fork Clackamas River, North Fork Clackamas, Fish Creek, and Roaring River.

 

The Collawash River 5th field watershed is 97,486 acres in size and includes the mainstem Collawash River and tributaries including the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash and its tributaries. The watershed contains 38 miles of anadromous streams, 130.1 miles of resident fish bearing streams, and approximately 491 miles of non-fish bearing streams.

 

The project proposes to commercially thinning plantations that are between 30 and 61 years old that occur in various land allocations as described in the Northwest Forest Plan, including matrix, late-successional reserves, and the dry upland portion of riparian reserves. Thinning will occur on approximately 2,188 acres of matrix and 1,237 acres of late-successional reserves. Approximately 1,225 acres of thinning is proposed within riparian reserves. Thinning would be designed to enhance diversity by applying variable density prescriptions that includes density management elements such as trees unevenly spaced, small gaps (openings) and small skips (clumps) within residual stands. Riparian Reserve prescriptions would encourage understory growth and development of intermediate forest layers.

 

All stands have been planted and pre-commercially thinned. Approximately 120 acres (units 126, 138, 150, 172 and portions of units 114, 132, and 162) in the Big Creek subwatershed were commercially thinned within the last 20 years. The understory vegetation such as conifers and some brush species are experiencing growth suppression due to a decrease in sunlight reaching the forest floor.

The average tree height within the stands proposed for treatment ranges from 85 feet to 120 feet with dbh averaging between 10 and 15 inches. The present stocking levels range from 245 trees per acre to 540 trees per acre. The current canopy cover in the stands ranges from 75 to 90%. The average post-thinning canopy cover for all stands would be between 50 and 69%, a prescription considered as a moderate thin. The timber to be harvested is primarily Douglas fir and western hemlock.

 

Approximately 43 million board feet of timber would be harvested with this proposal. Treatment would occur on approximately 1.5% of the total acres within the Collawash River 5th field watershed, and 2.1% of the Middle Clackamas River 5th field watershed.

 

The project is anticipated to be sold as 10-14 sales in the next 3 years. Implementation would be over a 5 to 7 year time period.

 

Table 1. 2007 Plantation Thinning Project HUC 6 watersheds

 

HUC 6

 

Watershed Acres

 

Total Acres to be Treated

Riparian Reserve Acres to be Treated

Fish Creek

29,794

648.9

86.7

Lower Clackamas River Tribs.

11,598

55

4.8

Middle Clackamas River Tribs.

31,707

2,249.2

684.5

Lower Collawash River Tribs.

16,339

482

164.1

Lower Hot Springs Fork

18,260

939.2

284.4

 

Project Elements

 

This project has been separated into seven project elements which are described in detail below:

 

1)      Timber Felling

2)      Timber Yarding

3)      Road and Landing Construction

4)      Road Maintenance

5)      Timber Hauling

6)      Road Decommissioning

7)      Fuels Treatment.

 

Timber Felling

Felling of the timber will be accomplished by hand felling or the use of mechanical harvester/processors. Harvesters will be required to work on a layer of residual slash placed in the harvester path prior to advancing the equipment. Harvester travel routes will be limited to one pass over a path whenever possible to reduce soil displacement. To reduce the risk of erosion harvesters will be restricted to operate only during the dry season (May 31 to November 1). This restriction may be waived if soils are dry or frozen.

 

Treatment occurring within riparian reserves is designed to meet riparian reserve objectives. This includes protecting current resources, such as maintaining stream temperatures and short-term wood recruitment needs, and long term objectives such developing large wood for future recruitment. Riparian reserve widths for this project are 180 feet (one site potential tree height) on each side of non-fish bearing streams and 360 feet (two site potential tree heights) in width on each side of fish-bearing streams (as described in watershed analysis documents).

 

No-cut steam protection buffers a minimum of 100 feet wide will be maintained along streams adjacent to LFH. A minimum 50-foot wide stream protection buffer will be maintained along all other perennial stream channels within the project area. Intermittent streams within one mile of LFH will receive minimum no-cut stream protection buffers of 50 feet in width. No-cut buffers a minimum of 30 feet in width would be maintained along intermittent channels greater than one mile from LFH. Larger buffer widths may be needed on a site-specific basis to prevent any increase in sediment delivery rates or a decrease in stream shading. Buffer width design will take into account the stream influence zone, steepness of slope, size and location of trees, orientation of the site to the sun (aspect), slope stability, and stream bank stability.

 

Within 50 feet of the stream protection buffers, only hand felling or low impact harvesting equipment such as mechanical harvesters would be allowed. Mechanical harvesting equipment would be required to operate on slash-covered paths. Trees in this zone would be directionally felled away from the protection buffers to minimize the disturbance to the forest floor.

 

The thinning prescription within riparian reserves will maintain an average conifer relative density (RD) value of 30 between the stream protection buffer and one site potential tree height along all streams less than one mile from LFH. In stands greater than one mile upstream from LFH, an RD value of at least 30 would be maintained within 100 ft. of the stream. In order to retain shade producing vegetation, an average canopy closure of 50% will be maintained within the secondary shade zone. This design criterion is expected to maintain a canopy closure that provides adequate shade over streams, and therefore is unlikely to alter water temperatures.

 

Gaps (or patch cuts) from 1/10 to acre in size would be created within riparian reserves. Gaps would make up 3-10% of each units riparian component. The distance separating a gap or patch cut from LFH would be greater than 180 feet. The distance separating a patch cut from all other streams would be at least 100 feet.

 

Treatment occurring within late-successional reserves would retain trees at a relative density of 20 to 40. Where riparian reserves overlap late successional reserves, the design features for riparian reserves will take priority in the riparian reserve component. In late-successional reserves trees would not be cut if they are greater than 20 inches in diameter (at a height of 4.5 feet). Skips (untreated areas) would be created that would vary in size and would comprise a minimum of 10% of each unit. Skips would be 0.25 to 1.25 acres or larger based on site-specific features. Where riparian reserves overlap late-successional reserves, the stream protection buffers may be counted as skips. Gaps within late-successional reserves would be 1/10 to acre in size and would make up 3-10% of each units late-successional reserve component.

 

Treatment within the matrix would be designed to increase health and growth that results in larger wind firm trees. The thinning prescription would maintain a relative density value of 25 to 35. Skips would be created that would vary in size and would comprise up to 10% of each unit. Where riparian reserves cross through matrix, the protection buffers adjacent to streams would be counted as skips. Gaps would be created within matrix, they would be 1/10 to acre in size and would make up to 3% of each units matrix component.

 

Yarding

Yarding will be accomplished utilizing a combination of mechanical harvester, processor, tractor, skyline, and helicopter logging systems. The total acres of each yarding method are as follows:

 

Table 2. Acres of proposed yarding methods

Yarding Method

Acres

% Total Sale Area

Ground Based

2,312.2

52.9

Skyline

1,307.7

29.9

Helicopter

754.4

17.2

 

All ground based tractor operations will take place on slopes averaging less than 30% to avoid the risk of damage to soil and water resources. Mechanical fellers would be permitted on slopes up to 40% if operated on a layer of slash. No operation of ground-based yarding equipment will be permitted between November 1 and May 31 to reduce the risk of soil compaction and erosion. This restriction may be waived if soils are dry or frozen or if operators switch to skyline or other non-ground based systems. Mechanical harvesters and forwarders would be required to work on a layer of residual slash placed in the harvester path prior to advancing the equipment.

 

Within 50 feet of the no-cut stream protection buffers, only low impact, minimal ground disturbing harvesting equipment such as mechanical harvesters or skyline systems (suspension yarding) would be allowed. Trees in this zone would be directionally felled away from the no-harvest buffer to minimize the disturbance to the forest floor.

 

Ground based equipment will be required to use existing skid trails whenever feasible. There may be instances where it is not desirable to use an existing skid trail (such as where an old skid trail crosses a wet area) and in such cases, if a skid trail is needed in the area, a new skid trail would be located that does not alter surface hydrology. The use of designated skid trails and/or forwarder paths will help to minimize detrimental soil compaction within the project area. Following harvest activities, effective ground cover will be provided on ground based skid roads that have a potential for erosion problems. Water bars and/or cross ditches will be installed where needed to disperse water and control surface run-off.

 

All skyline yarding will incorporate one end or full suspension if needed, such as when yarding over a stream channel or seep. Skyline yarding will not occur over LFH or within the buffers associated with these streams. Yarding corridors will be approximately 15 feet wide and 100 to 200 feet apart. Skyline yarding will be allowed during all seasons.

 

Road Construction/Reconstruction/Landing Construction

Road construction/reconstruction will involve construction of new semi-permanent roads, landing construction, and re-opening old temporary roads constructed when the area was originally logged (see Table 3 and 4).

 

Approximately 3.3 miles of new semi-permanent road will be constructed to access units. This road construction is comprised of 2.6 miles of new road on undisturbed surfaces and 0.7 miles of road that will be constructed on previously disturbed skid trails. These roads will make it possible to yard away from riparian areas thus eliminating some yarding corridors that would have crossed over streams. The new semi-permanent roads will be of native surface and located along ridge tops, outside of any riparian reserve. No proposed semi-permanent road is closer than 900 feet from listed fish habitat. All new roads are in locations where there would not be any increase in the stream drainage network. Following harvest activities, all of these roads and newly constructed landings will be ripped and seeded. Semi-permanent road construction and decommissioning would only take place during the dry season.

 

Semi-permanent roads would normally be constructed, used and obliterated in the same operating season. If this is not possible, due to fire season restrictions or other unforeseen delays, the road would be winterized prior to the end of the normal operating season by out-sloping, water-barring, effectively blocking the entrance, seeding, mulching and fertilizing.

 

Approximately 6.8 miles of existing temporary road will be re-opened to access the stands. The majority of these roads have been closed since the original entry into the stands, except roads reopened to thin 120 acres in the Big Creek 6th field HUC in 1994. Re-opening these roads will consist of removing any gates or berms presently blocking vehicle access, brushing overgrown areas, blading, and spot rocking where needed. Most of these roads have been previously rocked. Road work will not involve any culvert installation or removal. All roads currently closed and constructed during the previous entry in proposed treatment units and that are proposed to be reopened are outside one site potential tree height (180 ft.) from streams, and no closer than 625 feet from LFH.

 

Road construction will be restricted to the dry season between June 1 and October 31 unless unusually dry conditions permit activities outside this window. Conversely, road construction will not occur if conditions exceed best management practice standards that protect soil and water. All roads reopened by the project will be decommissioned following harvest activities. Decommissioning will consist of storm proofing by installing water bars and barricading the roads to vehicular traffic. Some of these roads will be used during future entries into matrix lands. The estimated return into the stands is 20 to 40 years.

 

Existing landings will be used whenever feasible. The Forest Service will approve landing locations in areas where there are resource concerns. Landings in riparian reserves would be located on existing roadways not requiring expansion of the road prism, or on existing landings that require only minimum reconstruction (clearing vegetation generated from earlier entries, sloping for drainage, or surfacing for erosion control purposes) to be made suitable for use. The use of existing landings within 200 feet of LFH would be prohibited. The use of existing landings located within Riparian Reserves will only be used if they are greater than 100 feet from any stream. The size and number of landings will be kept to the minimum required to harvest the units. Landings planned for use outside of the normal operating season (June1-Oct.31) will be surfaced with aggregate material.

 

When helicopter yarding is incorporated, the number of landings and their size would be kept to a minimum required to reasonably harvest the units. Landings will be located by the purchaser and approved by the Forest Service.

 

Road Maintenance

Road maintenance will involve any work needed to renovate or upgrade road systems in order for timber transport to occur in a safe manner. Maintenance to existing system roads prior to hauling will include placement of new aggregate surfacing where necessary to upgrade the quality of the road bed and improve road drainage, reconditioning the roadbed (grading), spot patching, sealing, brushing, and ditch cleanout where needed.

 

Converting asphalt to aggregate surface is proposed along some areas of the haul route in order to upgrade the roadbed where costs to repave are prohibitive. Asphalt to aggregate conversion is planned for areas along a 5.3 mile section of FS road 5410. Asphalt would be retained on approaches to stream crossings less than one mile from LFH. The length of pavement to be retained would be a minimum of 100 feet on either side of the stream crossing.

 

Ditch cleanout would be the removal of any material that may have slid into the ditch line that could impede the drainage capability. Waste material from the ditch cleanout would be disposed in sites located outside of Riparian Reserves. Existing ditch line vegetation would be maintained whenever possible to reduce the risk of erosion. Where the potential exists to deliver sediment to streams, sediment traps or other appropriate methods will be utilized during ditch cleaning. Road construction or maintenance will be restricted to the dry season between June 1 and October 31 unless unusually dry conditions permit activities outside this window.

 


Table 3. Road Activity 2007 Plantation Thinning Project Middle Clackamas River HUC5

 

 

 

 

Unit #

 

 

Road Construction

Road Reconstruction

 

 

 

HUC 6

 

New

Semi-permanent

(feet)

Distance of new semi-perm. Road to LFH*

(feet)

 

Re-opening existing temp roads (feet)

Distance of re-opened temp. road to LFH*

(feet)

12

Fish Creek

--

--

550

2,415

14

Fish Creek

--

--

900

2,130

44

Fish Creek

680

6,425

350

7,127

52

Middle Clackamas

240

4,517

990

4,945

58

Middle Clackamas

710

6,255

--

6,414

62

Middle Clackamas

--

--

2200

5,067

80

Middle Clackamas

900

4,737

--

--

88

Middle Clackamas

--

--

900

16,667

90

Middle Clackamas

--

--

580

12,319

100

Middle Clackamas

200

2,119

320

02,345

108

Middle Clackamas

--

--

320

2,652

122

Middle Clackamas

--

--

1850

625

124

Middle Clackamas

--

--

950

1,620

126

Middle Clackamas

1000

975

--

--

128

Middle Clackamas

--

--

370

2,967

130

Middle Clackamas

840

8,276

--

--

134

Middle Clackamas

--

--

320

8,450

138

Middle Clackamas

--

--

690

7,920

142

Middle Clackamas

210

3,100

685

3,225

146

Middle Clackamas

630

1,339

--

--

152

Middle Clackamas

--

--

1220

4,750

160

Middle Clackamas

260

1,528

480

2,095

162

Middle Clackamas

320

2,073

1050

3,060

168

Middle Clackamas

920

3,725

740

3,760

172

Middle Clackamas

--

--

480

2,115

178

Middle Clackamas

1700

1,585

--

--

180

Middle Clackamas

--

--

580

6,300

182

Middle Clackamas

460

6,558

370

6,650

248

Middle Clackamas

--

--

270

15,695

256

Middle Clackamas

110

13,700

1750

13,300

260

Middle Clackamas

--

--

230

13,460

264

Middle Clackamas

310

14,666

1320

15,486

268

Middle Clackamas

--

--

580

13,900

 

Table 4. Road Activity 2007 Plantation Thinning Project Collawash River HUC5

 

 

 

 

Unit #

 

 

Road Construction

Road Reconstruction

 

 

 

HUC 6

 

New

Semi-permanent

(feet)

 

Distance to LFH*

(feet)

 

Re-opening existing temp. roads (feet)

Distance of re-opened temp. road to LFH*

(feet)

212

Lower Collawash

--

--

200

2,185

216

Lower Collawash

--

--

1000

1,270

218

Lower Collawash

480

2,706

210

2,822

224

Lower Collawash

--

--

440

4,235

230

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

640

9,660

234

Lower Hot Springs Fork

210

11,018

--

--

238

Lower Hot Springs Fork

850

12,390

1380

13,590

274

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

740

1,321

276

Lower Hot Springs Fork

160

1,875

--

--

280

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

420

4,435

284

Lower Hot Springs Fork

240

3,670

--

--

298

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

280

3,600

316

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

950

1,550

318

Lower Hot Springs Fork

580

1,622

--

--

322

Lower Collawash

780

2,155

500

2,457

324

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

580

4,920

328

Lower Hot Springs Fork

210

4,505

2160

3,850

336

Lower Hot Springs Fork

110

1,415

270

1,235

338

Lower Hot Springs Fork

780

2,648

1530

2,750

342

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

970

3,360

344

Lower Hot Springs Fork

--

--

790

4,180

346

Lower Collawash

1730

1,160

850

1,485

348

Lower Collawash

1250

1,400

420

2,150

*The distance to LFH is based on LCR steelhead and their critical habitat which has the greatest distribution of listed fish within the action area.

 

Log Haul

The haul route will be along both aggregate and paved surface roads. The major system roads that will be used to transport timber are Forest Service (FS) roads 46, 54, 63, and 70. These road systems are paved and maintained for public safety. Secondary roads to be used for haul such as 5410, 4620, and 7010 are paved along much of the haul route. The network of aggregate surfaced roads along the route are level two and level three system roads, where the ditches are maintained and vegetated. All crossings over stream channels are paved where LFH for steelhead, chinook, or coho occur. Road crossings along aggregate surfaced portions of the haul route are over small first and second order perennial or intermittent channels. The nearest aggregate surfaced crossing to LFH is along a small non fish-bearing tributary stream over 1,215 feet from any occurrence of steelhead, chinook, or coho (Table 5 - 7).

 

Haul on these roads is not seasonally restricted. The majority of timber hauling would be allowed year-round on rock-aggregate surfaced roads. On natural surfaced roads haul will be limited to the dry season normally June 1 October 31. Aggregate surfacing will be required on native surfaced roads if they are used outside of the normal operating season. During the wet season, log haul would only be permitted on asphalt and rocked roads when conditions would prevent sediment delivery to streams. Hauling and maintenance activities would be suspended when conditions exist that may cause the generation of excessive sediment, such as intense or prolonged rainfall; or when the road surface is deteriorating due to freeze-thaw cycles or from excessive use. Haul will be stopped if there is rutting of the road surface or a noticeable increase in the turbidity of water draining to the road ditches or at stream crossings. In periods of high rain-fall, the contract administrator may restrict log hauling on all roads to minimize water quality impacts.


Table 5. Haul Route along Aggregate Surface Roads to Road 54

 

Haul Route

 

Miles of Haul

 

# of Stream Crossings Over:

Nearest Distance from Crossing to LFH (ft.)

LFH

Perennial

Intermittent

Perennial

Intermittent

5410

1.3

0

2

2

6,300

4,750

5410-120

2.7

0

3

3

2,600

2,110

5410-012

0.6

0

0

0

--

--

5410-011

0.6

0

0

0

--

--

5410-013

0.4

0

0

0

--

--

5411

0.4

0

0

0

--

--

5411-120

0.7

0

1

1

6,800

6,800

5412

1.6

0

1

2

11,000

8,900

5412-120

0.9

0

2

1

8,400

9,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 6. Haul Route along Aggregate Surface Roads to Road 46

 

Haul Route

 

Miles of Haul

 

# of Stream Crossings Over:

Nearest Distance from Crossing to LFH (ft.)

LFH

Perennial

Intermittent

Perennial

Intermittent

4620

2.4

0

3

2

11,000

10,100

4620-130

0.9

0

2

1

2,640

3,160

4620-013

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

4620-170

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

4620-180

0.7

0

0

0

--

--

4620-019

0.07

0

0

0

--

--

4620-190

0.5

0

1

0

13,000

--

4621

2.9

0

2

0

4,700

--

4621-220

0.3

0

2

0

8,400

--

4621-200

0.7

0

0

0

--

--

4621-180

0.5

0

0

1

--

4,750

4621-022

0.6

0

0

1

--

4,600

4621-140

0.4

0

1

0

3,000

--

4621-150

1.3

0

2

0

3,100

--

4621-125

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

4621-017

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

4621-015

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

4622

1.1

0

3

0

8,970

--

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 7. Haul Route along Aggregate Surface Roads to Road 63

 

Haul Route

 

Miles of Haul

 

# of Stream Crossings Over

Nearest Distance from Crossing to LFH (ft.)

LFH

Perennial

Intermittent

Perennial

Intermittent

6320

2.8

0

3

2

2,200

4,700

6320-170

0.6

0

0

0

--

--

6320-020

0.2

0

0

1

--

4,220

6320-021

0.3

0

0

0

--

--

6320-022

0.5

0

0

0

--

--

6320-160

0.8

0

0

1

--

2,220

6321

3.2

0

1

5

3,160

1,950

6321-150

0.4

0

0

2

--

1,850

6322

5.5

0

3

5

4,170

3,850

6322-150

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

6330

5.3

0

4

5

2,165

1,215

6330-130

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

6330-160

2.0

0

0

2

--

2,650

6330-019

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

6330-200

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

6340

1.8

0

1

2

1,215

4,690

6340-120

0.3

0

0

0

--

--

7010

0.3

0

1

1

 

 

7010-120

0.3

0

0

0

--

--

4620

8.2

0

4

12

11,080

8,970

4620-220

0.8

0

0

0

--

--

4620-230

1.2

0

0

0

--

--

4620-240

0.6

0

0

0

--

--

4620-260

0.5

0

0

0

--

--

4620-340

0.2

0

0

0

--

--

 

The volume of timber to be hauled from these stands is approximately 3 loads/acre (10,000 board feet/acre). The estimated number of loads per 6th field HUC is as follows:

o       Fish Creek 1,950 loads

o       Lower Clackamas River Tribs. 165 loads

o       Middle Clackamas River Tribs. 6,747 loads

o       Lower Collawash Tribs. 1,446 loads

o       Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. 2,817 loads

 

The project is anticipated to be sold as 10 to 14 different sales ranging in size from 200 to 500 acres. It is difficult to reflect the temporal component of the haul because it is unknown how the project will be implemented. Implementation is dependent on appeals, market conditions, and length of sale contracts. The haul is expected to occur over an approximate 5 to 7 year time frame. The first sale of this project planned to be sold is approximately 432 acres within the Pup creek subwatershed. For this sale approximately 1,296 log loads will be hauled down the 5410 road system.

 

Road Decommissioning

All new semi-permanent roads and existing temporary roads reopened by the project will be decommissioned following harvest activities. Decommissioning will consist of ripping the road surface and storm proofing by installing water bars and barricading the roads to vehicular traffic. Road decommissioning activities would be restricted to the dry season between June 1 and October 31 unless unusually dry conditions permit activities outside this window. There are no culverts associated with the semi-permanent or existing temporary roads that will be decommissioned.

 

In addition to the decommissioning of all new semi-permanent and re-opened temporary roads, approximately 4.5 miles of existing system road that will be used during haul would be decommissioned. The decommissioning of these roads would also consist of ripping the road surface, seeding, and storm proofing by installing water bars and barricading the roads to vehicular traffic. There are no culverts associated with these roads.

 

The project also includes a proposal to close roads with berms or gates. Under the proposal 43.2 miles of roads would be bermed, 8.9 miles would be closed year-round with new gates and one existing gate that is only closed seasonally would be changed to a year-round closure affecting 6.5 miles. There are no culverts that will be removed under this closure. The closed roads will be storm proofed and blocked to vehicular traffic. These roads are expected to be used in future entries into the stands.

 

Table 8. 2007 Plantation Thin Proposed Road Decommissioning

Drainage_HUC 7

Road #

Miles

Unit

Distance to LFH (miles)

Lower Clackamas River . Timber Lake

4620-011

0.13

104

0.5

Lower Clackamas River . Timber Lake

4620-013

0.28

114

0.4

Lower Clackamas River . Timber Lake

4620-016

0.26

124

0.5

Lower Clackamas River . Timber Lake

4620-160

0.16

112

0.5

Lower Clackamas River - Wards

4621-015

0.17

168

0.7

Lower Clackamas River - Wards

4621-028

0.15

128

0.3

Big Creek

4620-018

0.11

118

0.3

Big Creek

4621-028

0.18

128

0.5

Big Creek

4621-029

0.18

128

0.5

Trout Creek

4620-022

0.22

150

2.1

Trout Creek

4621-022

0.27

150

0.8

Trout Creek

4621-027

0.24

132

1.3

Lower Fish Creek

5410-012

0.56

16

0.3

Hot Springs Fork Tribs

6320-018

0.11

276

0.3

Hot Springs Fork Tribs.

6330-013

0.12

340

0.5

Hot Springs Fork Tribs.

6330-019

0.24

336

0.4

Hot Springs Fork Tribs.

7010-019

0.23

276

0.3

Blister Creek

6320-022

0.65

308

1.3

Thunder Creek

6320-024

0.11

312

0.3

Fan Creek

6322-014

0.13

224

0.4

 

Fuels Treatment

Fuels treatment following completion of harvest activities will consist of burning landing debris where needed to reduce fire hazard. No other burning or slash treatment is planned.

 

Endangered Species Act Action Area

The action area is defined for ESA purposes as: All areas to be affected directly or indirectly by the Federal action and not merely the immediate area involved in the action (50 CFR 402). The actions proposed with the 2007 Plantation Thinning Project will occur in the Middle Clackamas River and Collawash River fifth field watersheds of the Clackamas River Basin (Appendix A Figure 1). More specifically, the action area for purposes of this consultation includes the treatment areas in the Middle Clackamas River Tributaries (6th field), Lower Clackamas River Tributaries (6th field), Fish Creek (6th field), Lower Collawash River Tributaries (6th field), and the Lower Hot Springs Fork (6th field) subwatersheds. Therefore, portions of these five 6th field watersheds are considered to be the action area for the purpose of this consultation.

 

III. STATUS OF LISTED SPECIES

 

Fisheries Description

The Middle Clackamas River and Collawash River watersheds currently provide habitat for the following Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs): Lower Columbia River (LCR) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Upper Willamette River (UWR) chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and Lower Columbia River (LCR) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). These species and their designated critical habitat are listed as Threatened and are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

 

Critical Habitat within the Action Area

Critical habitat (CH) for LCR steelhead is all of the stream reaches in the mainstem Clackamas River, Collawash River, Hot Springs Fork, and Fish Creek that are within or downstream of the action area. In addition, the lower portions of Big Creek (within action area), Trout Creek, Pup Creek, and Sandstone Creek (downstream of action area) within the Middle Clackamas watershed and Thunder Creek, Fan Creek, Farm Creek, and Blister Creek within the Collawash river watershed contain designated critical habitat.

 

LCR steelhead are the most widely distributed anadromous salmonid species within the action area. Contained within the distribution of steelhead are chinook and coho. Also found within the distribution of LCR steelhead critical habitat is designated critical habitat for chinook. In the future, if critical habitat is listed for coho, the potential effects of this project on coho critical habitat would be the same or less as described for LCR steelhead critical habitat.

 

ESA/EFH Status

 

Spring Chinook Salmon

Spring Chinook salmon utilize habitat in the Clackamas River and Collawash Rivers, within the Action Area. This stock is currently included in the Upper Willamette River (UWR) Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) and is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS 1998b). This ESU includes the Clackamas River and the Willamette River and its tributaries above Willamette Falls. NOAA Fisheries (NMFS 1998b) states that available information suggests that spring Chinook salmon presently in the Clackamas River are predominantly the result of introductions from the Willamette River ESU and are thus probably not representative of spring Chinook salmon found historically. Clackamas hatchery spring Chinook are considered part of this ESU.

 

NMFS released their final rule designating critical habitat for UWR spring chinook salmon (January 2, 2006), and it includes the Clackamas and Collawash Rivers through the action area (70 FR 52630).

 

Winter Steelhead

Winter steelhead utilize habitat in the Clackamas River and Collawash Rivers, and in a number of tributaries that are within the Action Area. This stock is currently included in the Lower Columbia River (LCR) ESU and is listed as threatened under the ESA (NMFS 1998a). This ESU includes all tributaries to the Columbia River between the Cowlitz and Wind Rivers in Washington (inclusive), and between the Willamette and Hood Rivers in Oregon (inclusive). Hatchery stocks of winter steelhead in the Clackamas River basin belong to the ESU, but are not considered essential for recovery and are not listed as threatened. All naturally spawning winter steelhead, however, are included in the listing, including progeny of hatchery fish that spawn naturally in the river.

 

NMFS released their final rule designating critical habitat for LCR steelhead (January 2, 2006), and it includes the Clackamas and Collawash Rivers through the action area (70 FR 52630).

 

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon utilize habitat in the Clackamas River and Collawash Rivers, within the Action Area. The coho that occur within the Clackamas River basin are included in the Lower Columbia River ESU and are listed as threatened (NMFS 2005b). This ESU includes Columbia River tributaries in Washington and Oregon from the mouth of the Columbia River up to and including the Big White Salmon and Hood Rivers, the Willamette River to Willamette Falls, Oregon, and 25 artificial propagation programs (NMFS 2005b). The late-run coho that occur in the Clackamas River is considered the last remaining viable wild coho population in the Columbia Basin.

 

Critical habitat has not yet been designated for Lower Columbia River coho salmon.

 

 

Population Size and Distribution

 

Spring Chinook Salmon

Historically, the Clackamas River was considered one of the largest producers of spring Chinook in the Pacific Northwest. Evidence indicates that spring chinook runs in the Clackamas River have been reduced compared to historical levels. Hatchery and natural production in the Clackamas River presently accounts of about 20% of the production potential in the Willamette River basin (NMFS 2000b).

 

Currently, the abundance of spring Chinook in the Clackamas River is strongly influenced by hatchery returns. Several out-of-basin hatchery stocks have been used to supplement the Clackamas River spring Chinook salmon population in the past. Since 1957 hatchery production has utilized brood of primarily Willamette River basin stocks (ODFW, 1992). From 1980 to 1986, hatchery releases into the Clackamas River basin averaged 820,000 spring Chinook salmon smolts each year. Releases during 1986-1990 ranged from 623,340 to 1,415,000 smolts annually. The current annual production target of smolts to be released into the Clackamas basin is 1.05 million.

 

Since 1998, all hatchery spring Chinook have been marked and adults returning to the upper Clackamas basin have been trapped at the North Fork/Faraday Dam. Only unmarked fish are allowed to pass into the upper basin. The interim escapement goal for the area above the North Fork Dam is 2,900 fish (ODFW 1998).

 

Table 9. Adult Spring Chinook passed upstream of North Fork Dam 1998-2005*

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

1,395

860

1,919

2,365

2,280

3,364

5,242

2,882

*unmarked Chinook that were allowed to pass upstream into NFS lands.

 

Several estimates of smolt production capacity for the Clackamas River basin have been developed. Smolt production capability estimates above North Fork Reservoir based on carrying capacity range from 190,880 to 1,365,028 using three different techniques (ODFW 1992).

 

Spawning in the upper Clackamas drainage occurs in the mainstem Clackamas from the head of North Fork Reservoir upstream to Big Bottom, the Collawash River, and Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River, lower Fish Creek, Roaring River, and the first 0.4-mile of the South Fork Clackamas River. The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Winter Steelhead

Historical records indicate that steelhead runs in the Clackamas River were much larger than under current conditions. Steelhead historically occupied more of the Clackamas River basin than either Chinook or coho salmon, because of their tolerance of higher gradient habitat (S.P. Cramer and Associates 2001).

 

Clackamas River winter steelhead returns to North Fork Dam between 1963 and 2000 averaged 1,745 fish. Returns in this decade have remained below ODFWs annual escapement goal of 3,000 fish for the habitat above North Fork Dam.

 

The Clackamas River above North Fork Dam is being managed for the natural production of winter steelhead. Since 1998, all hatchery winter steelhead have been marked and adults returning to the upper Clackamas basin have been trapped at the North Fork/Faraday Dam. Only unmarked fish are allowed to pass into the upper basin.

 

Table 10. Winter Steelhead passed upstream of North Fork Dam 1998-2005*

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

504

189

447

888

1,405

1,234

2,110

937

* unmarked steelhead that were allowed to pass upstream into NFS lands.

 

Several estimates of winter steelhead smolt production capacity for the Clackamas River basin have been developed. Smolt production capability estimates above North Fork Reservoir based on carrying capacity range from 129,557 to 201,500 using two different techniques (ODFW 1992).

 

The native winter steelhead in the Clackamas River above North Fork Dam use the majority of the mainstem and tributaries as spawning and rearing habitat. Spawning in the upper Clackamas drainage occurs in the mainstem Clackamas, Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River, the Collawash River, and Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River, Fish Creek, Roaring River, and the first 0.4-mile of the South Fork Clackamas River. The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Coho Salmon

The Clackamas River coho salmon population includes both an early and late-run component (ODFW 1992). The early-run component consists primarily of naturalized hatchery fish. The late-run component is native and appears to be genetically unique from other Columbia River basin coho salmon based on their life history characteristics, morphology, and mitochondrial DNA studies (Cramer and Cramer 1994).

 

The Clackamas River basin is thought to have historically supported a large coho salmon population, which likely spawned throughout the basin. Coho salmon returns to North Fork Dam between 1957 ands 2005 averaged 1,876 fish.

 

Table 11. Coho Salmon passed upstream of North Fork Dam 1998-2005.

Stock

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Early-Run

285

188

1,973

2,761

695

1,734

1257

1,142

Late-Run

151

51

392

1,425

185

371

573

79

 

Estimates of coho salmon smolt production capacity for the Clackamas River basin have been developed. Smolt production capability based on methodologies developed by the Mt. Hood National Forest estimated coho smolt capability to be 429,800 fish above North Fork Reservoir based on carrying capacity (ODFW 1992).

 

Radio-telemetry studies have found that the late-run component spawns above North Fork Reservoir in the mainstem Clackamas River between RM 33.5 and 50.3 (Cramer and Merritt 1992). The naturalized hatchery component or early-run spawns in areas above North Fork Reservoir from RM 48.5 to RM 68 (Romey and Cramer 1999). Coho salmon also utilize habitat in the larger tributaries of the Clackamas River such as lower Fish Creek, Roaring River, Oak Grove Fork, the Collawash River, and the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River. The baseline condition of this indicator is Not Properly Functioning.

 

Growth and Survival

 

Spring Chinook Salmon

The age structure of adult returns to the Clackamas River based on sport fishery and hatchery data show that on average over 65% of returning spring Chinook are 4 years old and over 20% are 5-year old fish. Most hatchery produced spring Chinook return to the Clackamas River after spending two to three years in the ocean. Fish that return after two years in the ocean generally weigh 9 to 15 pounds, while fish returning after three years weigh 17 to 25 pounds. Wild spring chinook often mature at older ages, with many spending four years in salt water.

 

Sex ratios for adult hatchery returns average 1.2 males to one female and fecundities based on volumetric measurements for all ages combined averages 4,700 eggs per female.

 

Average length of wild out migrating yearlings in the Clackamas Basin is 120 mm, substantially smaller than the average size of migrating hatchery smolts, which is between 150 mm and 200 mm (Cramer et al. 1996).

 

The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Winter Steelhead

The majority of winter steelhead adults returning to the Clackamas River are 4 years old (53% - 63%). The remaining adults are mostly 5 years old, with a small fraction being 3, 6, or 7 years of age. The majority of native juvenile steelhead rear in fresh water for 2 years (73%).

 

Sex ratios based on hatchery returns show that approximately 44% of returning fish are female. Fecundities average approximately 3,400 eggs per female.

 

The average length of out migrating steelhead smolts is between 150 mm and 170 mm. The average length of juvenile steelhead is between 85mm and 115 mm.

 

The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Coho Salmon

The age structure of adult coho returns to Clackamas River is almost entirely made up of 3-year old fish. Most coho salmon rear just over a year in freshwater. Fish that return after two years in the ocean are generally 28-30 inches in length. The average weight of these fish is 10- 15 pounds.

 

Sex ratios for early-run adult hatchery returns average 46% females. The average fecundity of both early and late run coho is 2,500 eggs per female.

 

The average length of out migrating coho smolts in the Clackamas Basin is between 105mm and 116 mm.

 

The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Life History Diversity and Isolation

 

Spring Chinook Salmon

Spring chinook enter the Clackamas basin from April through August and spawn from September through early October with peak spawning occurring the 3rd week in September. These fish primarily spawn and rear in the mainstem Clackamas River and larger tributaries.

 

Juvenile spring Chinook salmon do not appear to rear in the tributaries, but rather appear to emigrate to the mainstem soon after emergence (ODFW, 1992). This is consistent with behavior of spring chinook in other rivers like the McKenzie. Also some juveniles rear in the reservoirs of the North Fork Dam complex. Peak downstream movement of juveniles occurs in the month of May over North Fork Dam followed by a fall migration in October and November. The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk

 

Winter Steelhead

Adult Clackamas winter steelhead enter the waters of the Mt. Hood National Forest primarily during April through June with peak migration occurring in May. The native winter steelhead in the Clackamas River above North Fork Dam use the majority of the mainstem and tributaries as spawning and rearing habitat. Very little spawning has been documented in tributaries of less than 4th order. Winter steelhead fry emerge between late June and late July and rear in freshwater habitat for one to three years. Juvenile steelhead during their first year, usually are found in riffle habitat but some of the larger juvenile steelhead will be found in pools and faster runs (Barnhart, R.A. 1986). The smolts emigrate downstream March through June with peak out-migration occurring from mid-April to mid-May (Lumianski, 1995 Accomplishment Reports for The Clackamas River Fisheries Working Group). The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Coho Salmon

Adult late-run winter coho salmon enter the Clackamas River from November through February. Spawning occurs mid-January to the end of April with the peak occurring mid-February. Spawning of late run winter coho salmon is believed to be restricted to the mainstem Clackamas River and its tributaries upstream of North Fork Dam (ODFW 1992). A three year cooperative radio telemetry study with the USFS, ODFW, PGE, and NW Steelheaders revealed that 80 percent of the fish tagged for three separate run years (1988-89, 89-90, 90-91) spawned in the mainstem Clackamas River between North Fork Reservoir and river mile (RM) 50.3 just downstream of the Oak Grove Fork (Cramer and Merritt 1992). Forest Service fisheries biologists believe, however, that the three year study does not give a true picture of the spawning distribution or focal points due to particular biases in the study. It is believed that the true spawning distribution of late run winter coho salmon is greater and extends further upriver and into the larger tributaries than that determined by Cramer and Merritt (1992) based on independent spawning surveys conducted throughout the upper drainage.

 

Fry emerge between late May and early July, dependent on the time of spawning and water temperatures during the incubation period. Smolt trapping data has found the majority of coho smolt to the ocean as age 1+ (data on file Clackamas River Ranger District). Coho salmon will generally spend two years in the ocean before migrating back to their natal stream to spawn at age three. The baseline condition for this indicator is Functioning At Risk.

 

Persistence and Genetic Integrity

 

Spring Chinook Salmon

The Upper Willamette ESU consists of both naturally spawning and hatchery produced fish. The ancestral spring chinook run to the upper basin spawned earlier than most spring chinook in the region. Based on egg-take records, early-spawning (July through August) fish that occurred in the river in the early 1900s have disappeared from the population (Willis et al. 1995). It may be that genetic material was lost during the period (1917 to 1939) when fish were prevented from spawning in the upper basin and were subjected to egg-take operations in the lower river.

 

The fish that recolonized the upper Clackamas River after 1939 may have been strays from elsewhere in the Willamette Basin (Willis et al. 1995). Time of out-migration, age at maturity, and ocean migrationall heritable traitsstill reflect historical patterns, however, suggesting that some genetic attributes of the wild stock remain intact. The baseline condition for this indictor is Functioning At Risk.

 

Winter Steelhead

From 1957 to 1966, upstream migration of winter steelhead took place from April through June, with peak migration occurring in May. Subsequent changes in this patternwith more adult fish migrating upstream between November and April and fewer in Junehave been attributed to the influence of hatchery stocks released downstream of North Fork Dam (Murtagh et al. 1992).

 

Before 1978, 80% of downstream steelhead migrants were counted at North Fork Dam in May. Beginning in 1983, however, the number of migrants passing in April began to increase, while the number of migrants passing in June decreased. Like the shift in upstream migration times of adult steelhead, this change may be due to the influence of introduced hatchery stocks (Murtagh et al. 1992). The baseline condition for this indictor is Functioning At Risk.

Coho Salmon

In the past, indigenous coho spawned earlier than they do now (Cramer and Cramer 1994). As is the case with other lower Columbia River coho populations, the peak spawning period in the Clackamas River was probably in December or January. Recently, however, coho have begun spawning later in the year, from January through March, with peak activity occurring in mid- to late February. This shift in run timing, although believed to be the result of genetic changes in the wild population, is not the result of direct interaction with hatchery stocks, but the result of increased angling pressure associated with harvest of hatchery fish. Because the timing of migration and spawning have been shown to be heritable traits, Cramer and Cramer (1994) concluded that the shift to a later peak in run timing was the manifestation of a genetic change in the population brought about by harvest selection against the early portion of the run.

 

The shift to later migration and spawning times for late-run coho salmon has led to a shift in fry emergence and, therefore, exposure of fry to lower water temperatures. This exposure to suboptimal conditions is responsible for decreases in survival and growth of fry, which have led to the reduction in the number of recruits per spawner that has been observed since the late 1970s (Cramer and Cramer 1994). The baseline condition for this indictor is Functioning At Risk.

 

Table 12. Fish Periodicity for ESA listed Species in the Clackamas and Collawash River Watersheds.

 

 

Life Stage

Species

 

LCR Steelhead

UWR Chinook

LCR coho (early)

LCR coho (late)

Upstream Adult Migration

Feb. - June

June-October

October - December

November - March

Adult Holding

Feb. - June

June-October

October - December

November - March

Spawning

March - June

September mid November

mid - October - December

January - March

Incubation

March mid-August

September - April

mid October

mid - April

January - July

Juvenile Rearing

Year Round

Year Round

Year Round

Year Round

Downstream Juvenile Migration

March mid-June

October - May

mid-March mid - July

mid-March mid - July

 


IV. BASELINE CONDITION AND EFFECTS OF THE PROPOSED ACTION TO HABITAT INDICATORS

 

Analysis of Effects

 

The following analysis uses habitat indicators from the Analytical Process for Developing Biological Assessments for Federal Actions Affecting Fish Within the Northwest Forest Plan Area (November, 2004) to evaluate the potential effects of the proposed action on environmental parameters important to anadromous salmonids, in this case, Lower Columbia River (LCR) steelhead, Upper Willamette River (UWR) chinook, and LCR coho salmon and their designated critical habitat.

 

This analysis evaluates the potential direct and indirect effects of the proposed action on any ESA listed, proposed, or candidate fish species and its habitat within the Middle Clackamas River and Collawash River 5th field watersheds.

 

There are no interrelated or interdependent effects with this project proposal.

 

Analysis of Effects Collawash River 5th field HUC #1709001101

 

Data used in the analysis of the Collawash River watershed includes the Collawash/Hot Springs Watershed Analysis (USDA, 1995), and USDA Level II Stream Surveys of Fan Creek (1999), Thunder Creek (1994), Dutch Creek (2002), Blister Creek (2000), and Farm Creek Creek (1984).

 

Table 13. Land Ownership and Allocation Collawash River HUC 5

Watershed Data

Units of Measure

Middle Clackamas HUC 5

Collawash HUC 5

Total Size

Acres

138,598

97,486

Road Information

Miles of Road

389.3

288.1

Road Density

1.9

1.9

Private Ownership

Acres

2,500

0

% of Watershed

1.8%

0%

Federal Management

Acres

136,098

97,486

% of Watershed

98%

100%

Federal Land Use Allocation

Matrix

Acres

74,302

43,060

% of Fed

55%

44%

Administratively Withdrawn

Acres

2,520

2,478

% of Fed

2%

3%

Congressional Reserve

Acres

396

26,680

% of Fed

3%

27%

Late Successional Reserve

Acres

58,881

25,190

% of Fed

43%

26%

 

 

Management activities in the Collawash River Watershed that have had an effect on aquatic resources include timber harvest and road building. Regeneration and clearcut harvest have occurred on approximately 26 % of the forested lands managed for timber harvest. The riparian reserves of the watershed have been altered by past timber harvest. The total area of riparian reserves within the watershed is 34,080 acres. Currently, 23% of the Riparian Reserve area within the watershed is in early-seral forest condition.

 

Table 14. Second Growth Plantations Collawash River HUC 5

Plantations (Acres Created by Decade)

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

N/A

1709.0

5084.3

6632.4

7332.4

4052.2

12.4

 

There are approximately 288 miles of roads in the watershed, which equates to a road density of 1.9 miles of road per square mile. Approximately 26 miles of road are within 200 feet of perennial streams. There are 623 stream crossings within the Collawash River watershed. The miles of road, number of stream crossings and dispersed campgrounds within the watershed has led to an increase in drainage network density.

 

Restoration projects implemented within the Collawash River watershed have focused on improving fish passage, improving instream habitat complexity, decreasing road densities, and restoring off-channel habitat and floodplain connectivity.

 

HUC 5 Watershed

Environmental Baseline Indicator Conditions

Temperature

Sedimen

Chem. Contam.Nut

Physical Barriers

Substrate

LWD

Pool Frequency

Pool Quality

Off-channel Habitat

Refugia

Width/Depth Ratio

Streambank Condition

Floodplain Connectivity

Peak/Base Flows

Drainage Network

Road Dens. & Loc

Disturbance History

Riparian Reserves

1709001104

Middle Clackamas River

AR

PF

PF

AR

AR

AR

AR

PF

AR

AR

 

PF

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

1709001101

Collawash River

AR

AR

PF

NPF

AR

AR

AR

PF

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

NPF

AR

AR

AR

HUC 6 Watershed

 

170900110403

Fish Creek

NPF

NPF

PF

PF

AR

AR

AR

PF

AR

AR

 

AR

AR

AR

PF

PF

AR

AR

170900110406

Lower Clackamas Tribs.

NPF

PF

PF

PF

AR

NPF

AR

AR

NPF

NP

 

PF

AR

AR

AR

NPF

AR

AR

170900110401

Middle Clackamas Tribs.

AR

AR

PF

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

 

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

170900110107

Lower Collawash Tribs.

AR

NPF

PF

NPF

NPF

NPF

NPF

AR

NPF

NPF

AR

AR

AR

AR

NPF

NPF

AR

AR

170900110103

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs.

AR

NPF

PF

NPF

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

AR

NPF

NPF

AR

AR

Table 15. Environmental Baseline Conditions Collawash HUC 5.

 

HABITAT INDICATORS

 

Indicator: Water Temperature

 

Environmental Baseline: At Risk

Summer stream temperatures are often higher than the Oregon State DEQ Water Quality Standards in the Collawash River and Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River watersheds. Higher water temperatures are probably endemic to this watershed, particularly in the Hot Springs Fork (USDA 1995). Water temperature data collected during stream surveys conducted in the Collawash River and Hot Springs tributaries such as Thunder Creek, Dutch Creek, Fan Creek have confirmed that temperatures exceed properly function conditions during summer rearing and early fall spawning times.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Timber felling, yarding, and road construction/maintenance are the only project elements that have a causal mechanism which might change stream temperature through the removal of streamside vegetation. Thinning within Riparian Reserves or the placement of yarding corridors over stream channels has the potential to affect water temperature by removal of the streamside canopy cover.

 

Road decommissioning, timber haul, and fuels treatment will not affect any streamside vegetation and have no other causal mechanisms to affect stream shade or water temperature. Therefore, these project elements will have a neutral effect on this indicator.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

 

      Proximity Timber felling and yarding will occur within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for LCR steelhead in two units. One of these units is also within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for UWR chinook. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. Of these twenty five units, six are located along fish-bearing perennial streams where resident coastal cutthroat trout occur. Felling and yarding will occur outside of the 50 feet stream protection buffer along four perennial fish bearing stream reaches. The distance of proposed units to LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho range from 0.1 mile to over 2.5 miles.

 

      Probability Riparian Reserve thinning will occur on approximately 448.5 acres within the Collawash action area. Thinning will occur within the stream influence zone (one site-potential tree height of 180 feet), outside of specified no-cut buffers, on all units with associated riparian reserves. Project design criteria were developed to reduce any potential for adverse impacts to stream temperature as the result of thinning within riparian reserves, and to meet guidelines in the Northwest Forest Plan Temperature TMDL Implementation Strategy (2005).

 

Stream protection buffers a minimum of 100 feet in width have been established along streams that are adjacent to LFH. A minimum 50 foot no-cut buffer would be applied along all other perennial channels and intermittent channels would receive buffer widths of 30ft. 50 ft. No-harvest stream protection buffers applied to all perennial and intermittent stream channels would insure that shade producing vegetation would remain within the primary shade zone. The canopy closure within these buffers average 75% to 90%. The current RD value of 75 to 90 will be retained within the no-harvest buffers. The no-cut stream protection buffers along perennial and intermittent streams are designed to meet stream temperature goals by avoiding harvest in the primary shade zone and retaining shade producing vegetation.

 

In addition to protection buffers, project design criteria would maintain a conifer relative density (RD) value of 30 between the protection buffer and one site potential tree height from the stream within stands that are adjacent to or within one mile of LFH. In stands greater than one mile upstream from LFH, an RD value of at least 30 would be maintained within 100 ft. of the stream. The thinning prescriptions within riparian reserves would maintain an average 50% canopy closure up to one site potential tree height from all streams in order to retain shade producing vegetation within the secondary shade zone. This design criterion is expected to maintain a canopy closure that provides adequate shade over streams and therefore is unlikely to alter water temperatures.

 

Since many of the streams that flow within proposed units are relatively small, and provide very little or no flow during the hottest time of the year when elevated stream temperatures are of concern, no significant increase in stream temperature is expected downstream of the project area. The designated stream protection buffers would provide adequate canopy cover to maintain existing shade components thus, maintaining stream temperatures. The increased no-cut protection buffers along perennial channels adjacent to LFH would maintain the existing shade components along these larger streams.

 

Any yarding corridors needed to harvest units will be no more than 15 feet wide and approximately 150 feet to 200 feet apart. No corridors would be located within designated protection buffers along streams adjacent to LFH. Corridors needed cross over any stream channel would only be allowed on non-LFH and would require full suspension of logs. Yarding over streams would only occur on very small streams where there would most likely be very little flow during operations. There is a low probability that water temperatures would be affected as the result of riparian thinning. This project element will have a slight negative, but discountable effect to temperature in the action area.

 

      Magnitude There could be, although unlikely, a short-term negative effect to the water temperature indicator at the site-specific scale. Trees removed for yarding corridors will have minimal effect on shade because the maximum 15 width will eliminate very little actual effective shade and result in little, if any direct solar radiation on the stream channel. Project design criteria are expected to maintain a canopy closure that provides adequate shade over streams and therefore is unlikely to alter water temperatures. Any effect that does occur would be of short duration as the young stands would be expected to re-close openings in 3 to 5 years. The magnitude (intensity) of effect on stream temperature is expected to be insignificant due to the small area of effect.

 

      Element Summary Felling and yarding is not anticipated to remove any trees that provide primary shade to streams. Stream protection buffers, along with riparian reserve silvicultural prescriptions, are expected to maintain a canopy closure that provides adequate shade over streams. The no-cut stream protection buffers along perennial and intermittent streams are designed to meet stream temperature goals by avoiding harvest in the primary shade zone and retaining shade producing vegetation. Any increase in stream temperatures would be immeasurable at the action area or watershed scale. Current stream temperatures in all streams within and downstream of the project area are expected to be maintained. Timber felling and yarding is expected to potentially have a slightly negative but insignificant effect of short duration. The extent of effect is negative impact, but will have a discountable effect to temperature in the action area. Project actions will have an immeasurable potential negative effect to the water temperature indicator at the site scale and a neutral effect at the action area.

 

Project Element: Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

 

      Proximity and Probability All new semi-permanent road construction will occur along ridge tops or on gentle terrain outside of riparian reserves. Re-opening of old temporary roads would remove some smaller in-growth trees on the road prism within the riparian reserves. Road decommissioning will occur outside of one site potential tree height within Riparian Reserves in a few instances. The decommissioning will not involve any tree removal. These project elements will not involve any tree removal within the stream influence zone, and therefore will have no effect on stream shade. There is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator.

 

      Element Summary - These project elements will not involve removal of more than a few trees within riparian reserves. This tree removal would be outside of the stream influence zone, would be small understory in-growth, and would not affect current canopy closure therefore; there is no causal mechanism to affect stream shade. This project element would have a neutral effect on the temperature indicator.

 

Indicator Summary The 2007 Plantation Thin Project is not anticipated to have more than a discountable affect to water temperature at the action area scale. Project design criteria that includes minimum no harvest buffers of 50 ft. on all perennial and intermittent streams within one mile of LFH and increased buffer widths along streams adjacent to LFH, are expected to effectively protect stream temperatures. Timber felling and yarding were found to have a slightly negative, but discountable effect to the indicator because of the potential removal of riparian trees for yarding corridors. Fuels treatment, road decommissioning, and timber haul will have a neutral effect to the indicator. Overall, project elements of the proposed action should have no more than an insignificant effect on the temperature indicator.

Indicator: Sediment/Turbidity; Substrate Character/Embeddedness

 

Sediment/Turbidity

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 - At Risk

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. HUC 6 - At Risk

Lower Collawash Tribs. HUC 6 Not Properly Functioning

 

The 5th field Collawash River Watershed is the most naturally unstable on the Mount Hood National Forest and mass wasting is a common process. Past management activities have contributed to mass wasting by the initiation of landslides and debris flows in the watershed (USDA 1995). Most of the management-related sediment production is from road building, and some of the roads are chronic sediment producers (USDA 1995). Sediment delivery and run-off rates have been increased due to the increase in road drainage network. In addition, the natural flow regime in the watershed is flashy, so streamflows respond quickly and profoundly to precipitation and snowmelt which increased the rate of erosion. Approximately 80% of the watershed is in the transient snow zone and the entire watershed is subject to rain-on-snow events. Generally steep slopes and channel gradients and limited floodplain development increase the rapidity of channel response. In recent history (1950s 1980s), timber harvest and roading created hydrologically immature conditions, which increased the rate of run-off and may have initiated down cutting and channel destabilization (USDA 1995).

 

No data are available on percent fines in spawning gravels in the any of the tributaries of the Collawash watershed. Stream surveys found evidence of bank instability and sediment buildup in the channel adjacent to areas that were devegetated due to past harvest activities, road crossings, and a powerline corridor. High road densities and past timber harvest suggest that sediment delivery rates are likely higher than natural conditions.

 

Several of the drainages within the Lower Collawash HUC 6 watershed flow through earthflow areas. These tributaries contribute to increased sediment and turbidity during higher flow events.

 

Substrate/Embeddedness

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 - At Risk

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. HUC 6 - At Risk

Lower Collawash Tribs. HUC 6 Not Properly Functioning

 

Cobble and small boulder was identified as the dominant and subdominant substrates in the Thunder and Dutch Creek subwatersheds. Gravel is the dominant substrate identified in Fan Creek. The small first and second order tributaries that make up the Lower Collawash tributaries and Hot Springs tributary subwatersheds are sediment rich systems, flowing through earth flow areas. Dominant substrates within these small streams are primarily silt/sand and gravels.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements that have a potential to affect the sediment/turbidity and substrate indicators include timber felling and yarding, road construction, road maintenance, and road decommissioning, log haul, and fuels treatment. These project elements have the potential to indirectly introduce fine sediment into stream channels from surface erosion and run-off.

 

Project activities are not anticipated to change substrate composition within any of the streams that flow through the project area. Project design criteria such as no cut buffers along riparian areas where thinning is proposed, restrictions on ground disturbance to drier seasons, and suspension yarding of logs across stream channels or wet areas, reduces the risk of sediment input into project area streams. Adherence to project design criteria and General Best Management Practices (BMP's) will reduce the risk of erosion causing habitat degradation within or downstream of the project area.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

 

      Proximity Timber felling and yarding will occur within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for LCR steelhead in two units (Appendix A). One of these units is also within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for UWR chinook. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. Of these twenty five units, six are located along fish-bearing perennial streams where resident coastal cutthroat trout occur. Felling and yarding will occur outside of the 50 feet stream protection buffer along four perennial fish bearing stream reaches. The distance of proposed units to LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho range from 0.1 mile to over 2.5 miles.

 

      Probability Timber felling and yarding are expected to have a low probability of affecting the sediment and turbidity indicator at the action area. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) soil erosion model was used to predict potential changes in erosion and sediment yield from selected harvest units. For skyline harvesting corridors (90 % ground cover, about 12 feet wide), the WEPP model predicts delivered sediment yield for selected project harvest units that ranges from 0.0 to 0.6 tons/year for a 2.5 year flood event, and 0.1 to 1.5 tons/year for a 25 year flood event. For ground-based harvest units, sediment yields are expected to be similar as BMPs and post-project Forest Plan ground cover standards are implemented. These predicted amounts of sediment yield are minor, with 1 ton of sediment yield per acre equal to about 1 cubic yard of soil, or a thickness of about 0.007 inches of soil loss which is not measurable or detectable. Predicted erosion and sediment values are estimated to be accurate within plus or minus 50 percent of the true value (Elliot et. al., 1997).

 

Project design criteria would incorporate no-cut stream protection buffers along all streams to minimize the potential of fine sediments entering stream channels. These vegetative buffers would allow soil infiltration between the harvest unit and any water source and would act as an effective barrier to the transport of sediment into stream channels by surface erosion or run-off. Surface roughness, vegetation, woody debris, and duff in untreated buffers would likely retain any displaced and eroded soil before it is transported into a stream channel.

 

To further reduce the risk of surface erosion entering streams as fine sediment, only lower impact harvesting equipment such as, mechanical harvesters or skyline systems, would be allowed within 50 feet of the stream protection buffers. Mechanical harvesters with a reach of 20 ft. to 30 ft. will operate along the outside edge of the stream influence zone approximately 75ft. to 80 ft. from the active channel on units where thinning will occur within this zone. Trees in this zone would be directionally felled away from the protection buffers to minimize disturbance to the forest floor. Mechanical harvesting equipment would be required to operate on slash-covered paths and travel routes would be limited to one pass over a path whenever possible. The use of skyline or helicopter yarding systems on steeper ground within riparian reserves would minimize or nearly eliminate ground disturbance. Timber felling and yarding is not expected to result in sediment being delivered to streams adjacent to the units.

 

To minimize soil displacement, existing temporary roads, landings and skid trails would generally be reused where feasible. There may be instances where it is not desirable to re-use an existing skid trail. In such cases, if a skid trail is needed in the area, a new skid trail would be located that minimizes the alteration of surface hydrology and drainage. Following harvest activities, ground-based skid roads will be seeded and mulched to reduce erosion.

 

Seasonal restrictions on ground-based operations would further reduce the risk of soil disturbance and run-off. Ground-based equipment will be restricted to drier periods between June 1 and October 31 to reduce the risk of soil compaction and surface erosion. Even if some soil movement occurred, the vegetated buffer strips along every perennial or intermittent channel would act as an effective barrier to any surface erosion. There is a low probability that measurable amounts of fine sediment would enter any stream within the project area as a direct result of felling or yarding activities.

 

      Magnitude There could be a short-term negative effect to the sediment/turbidity indicator at the site-specific scale. This will be of an insignificant magnitude where ESA listed or proposed species or habitat occurs. The use of ground based yarding methods, and to a lesser extent cable yarding, will result in some soil and ground cover disturbance in the units. Soil displacement within the units is not expected to move off-site. Designated stream protection buffers with undisturbed ground cover and will trap and filter any sediment that may move away from the units. Due to the low potential of sediment movement and high storage potential in no harvest buffers, any sediment that enters streams from timber felling and yarding is expected to have an immeasurable effect of an insignificant magnitude on the sediment and turbidity indicators where steelhead, chinook, and coho occur.

 

      Element Summary Thinning, particularly within riparian reserves, is a potentially ground disturbing activity that has the potential to cause a temporary, immeasurable reduction in water quality by allowing sediment to enter stream channels from surface erosion or run-off. Tree falling, ground-based yarding methods, and to some extent cable yarding methods disturb soils that may result in minor sediment movement at the site level. Ground-based harvesting equipment and cable yarding does cause some direct soil displacement which would be mitigated through project design criteria. Slash covered harvester paths and no-harvest buffers will protect against sediment being delivered to streams. Most of the minor amounts of sediment that may be produced from timber harvesting activities would travel short distances before being trapped by duff, woody materials, and other obstructions. The probability of overland surface runoff delivering sediment to streams is low. There may be slightly negative effects to the sediment and substrate indicators but the effects are expected to be minor and insignificant where LFH occurs.

 

Project Element: Road and Landing Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

 

      Proximity All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 feet from listed fish habitat. The re-opening of old temporary roads constructed during prior entry into the stands does occur within riparian reserves in a few instances. These roads are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. Existing landings will be used whenever feasible. The use of existing landings will be prohibited if they are within 100 feet of any stream channel. No new landings will be permitted within 500 feet of LFH or 200 feet of any other stream. System roads identified for decommissioning are all located along ridge tops, outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. Maintenance activities such as brushing, ditch clean-out, and deep patch will occur along the haul route. Brushing along roads adjacent to LFH would be minimal since these roads are main arterials and are maintained for public use. The nearest stream crossing at a perennial channel is over 1,200 ft. from LFH.

 

      Probability Road related ground disturbing activities have been designed to minimize the risk of sediment being transported to streams from erosion or surface run-off. Road work would be restricted to the dry season between November 1 and May 31 on roads where there is a hydrologic connection to streams. This restriction would reduce the risk of any surface erosion due to ground disturbance.

 

All new semi-permanent roads are located in uplands, would not cross stream channels, and would have no direct hydrologic link to any water source. As a result, there would be a very low probability of any sediment from temporary road surfaces reaching streams. The WEPP model was also used to predict sediment yield from two short segments of temporary roads. The WEPP model predicts delivered sediment yield to stream channels for the temporary road segments (about 200 feet long) that ranges from 0.0 tons/year for a 2.5 year flood event, to 0.04 tons/year for a 50 year flood event. These predicted amounts of sediment yield are very small and not measurable.

 

These roads would be constructed along ridge tops, benches, or gentle slopes, where they would not cause an increase in the stream drainage network. No new semi-permanent or existing temporary road would cross any perennial or intermittent stream channel. Because of the distance of these roads to any water source, vegetative buffers would act as an effective barrier to any sediment being transported into stream channels by surface erosion or runoff. All new semi-permanent roads and reopened temporary roads would be obliterated and revegetated directly following completion of harvest operations to help reduce compaction, increase infiltration rates, and minimize surface erosion. If harvest activities are not completed within the operating season, any semi-permanent road that needs to remain over winter will be storm-proofed.

 

There is a low probability of road decommissioning activities will have any more than an insignificant effect on the sediment indicators due to the distance from these road to any stream course.

 

Maintenance of the existing system roads prior to hauling would include measures to upgrade the quality of the road bed and to improve road drainage. This includes the placement of new aggregate surfacing where necessary, blading, brushing out encroaching vegetation, removal of berms, and ditch cleanout where needed.

 

Additionally, deep patch repairs to the roadbed and converting asphalt to aggregate surface is proposed along some segments of the haul route. Road maintenance activities would be scheduled during the dry season on roads where a hydrologic connection exits. There would be no heavy maintenance activities such as deep patching or blading along roads within 200 feet of LFH, unless the road segment has no hydrologic connection.

 

      Magnitude Scheduling road construction and maintenance activities during the dry seasons, and location of any new road construction to stream courses would decrease the probability of effects to the sediment indicator. The impacts to water quality or fisheries resources caused by sedimentation due to road construction, reconstruction, maintenance, or road obliteration, if any, would be short-term and undetectable at the watershed or subwatershed scale. Any effects from the implementation of the project elements are expected to be short-term and of an insignificant magnitude.

 

      Element Summary Road construction, road maintenance, and road decommissioning activities have the potential to indirectly introduce fine sediment into stream channels. Road related ground disturbing activities have been designed to minimize the risk of sediment being transported to streams from erosion or surface run-off. Restricting road work to dry seasons along roads where there are hydrologic connections would reduce the risk of sediment being transported to water sources. Limiting road maintenance activities within 200 feet of LFH were there is a hydrological connection will reduce the risk of sediment effecting listed fish.

 

Road maintenance prior to log haul would help maintain the design drainage of the road surface which reduces the potential for larger sediment inputs to runoff that eventually enters stream courses. Proposed semi-permanent roads are located on dry ground and have no hydrologic connection to any water source. Because of the distance of the proposed new semi-permanent roads to any stream course, vegetative buffers would act as an effective barrier to any sediment from construction being transported into stream channels by surface erosion or runoff. All semi-permanent roads or temporary roads that will be obliterated following harvest activities are located far enough way from any water source that sediment impacts to listed fish species or their habitat is unlikely.

 

Road construction/maintenance/decommissioning elements may have a slight negative effect on the suspended sediment and substrate indicators, but the effects are expected to be minor and insignificant where LFH occurs.

 

Project Element: Timber Haul

 

      Proximity All crossings over stream channels where steelhead, chinook, or coho occur along the haul route are paved. All aggregate surfaced road crossings are over small perennial or intermittent channels. The nearest aggregate surfaced crossing is along a small non fish-bearing tributary stream over 1,215 feet from any LFH.

 

The haul routes have the potential to introduce fine sediments in small quantities at stream crossings by way of road drainage ditches entering streams. Any increase in the sediment is expected to be minimal due to the well-rocked or paved road surfaces and ditches that are well vegetated.

 

      Probability Log hauling along aggregate surface or native surfaced roads has the potential to introduce sediment in small quantities to streams. There is a high probability that the use of haul roads will introduce some sediment into ditch lines and in some cases to streams. The probability of haul generating sediment in sufficient quantities to affect listed fish or critical habitat is low due to the proximity of listed fish and critical habitat. Traffic breaks down surfacing material resulting in finer surface gradation and increased sediment transport from the road surface. Any fine sediment created by hauling traffic would more than likely be washed from the road surface in the first precipitation event that is sufficient to cause runoff from the road surface. Any input of sediment is expected to be minimal, as the roads where there is a potential for surface run-off are asphalt or durable crushed rock. All native surfaced roads along the haul route are outside of riparian reserves, along ridge tops or gentle terrain, and have no direct hydrological connection to any streams. Aggregate surfacing will be required on native surfaced roads if they are to be used outside of the normal operating season (June 1 to October 31). Log hauling would not measurably increase the amount of fine sediment in streams. The roads along the haul route are rocked or paved at stream crossings, and road ditches are well vegetated.

 

The potential for sediment input into streams along the haul routes would further be minimized by permitting haul only when conditions would prevent sediment delivery to streams. Any sediment that could enter a stream during haul activities would be at crossings along aggregate surfaced roads. The majority of these crossings are at intermittent or small perennial streams that would have very little flow, during the normal season of operation. Crossings at streams where LFH occurs along the haul route are asphalt surfaced therefore the probability of sediments reaching the stream channels at these crossings is extremely rare. Any sediment that leaves the road surface due to run-off is expected to disperse over land or be stored within the smaller tributary streams along the haul route. If any sediment is transported downstream, it would be during the beginning of the rainy season and would be diluted by sufficient if not large volumes of water where it would be indistinguishable from background levels of instream suspended sediments. It is very unlikely that any measurable amount of sediment produced during log haul would be transported to stream channels where listed fish species occur.

 

        Magnitude There is a high probability that the use of haul roads will introduce some sediment into ditch lines and in some cases to streams. The probability of timber haul generating sediment in sufficient quantities to affect listed fish or critical habitat is low due to the proximity of aggregate surface road crossings to listed fish and critical habitat. By permitting haul only when conditions would prevent sediment delivery to streams, it is very unlikely that any measurable amount of sediment produced during log haul would be transported to stream channels where listed fish species occur. Any sediment generated during haul is expected to be in quantities that are immeasurable and indistinguishable from background levels. Timber haul is anticipated to have effects of an insignificant magnitude on LCR steelhead, UWR chinook, and LCR coho or designated critical habitat.

 

      Element Summary Log hauling along aggregate surface or native surfaced roads has the potential to introduce sediment in small quantities to streams. Any input of sediment generated by log haul is expected to be minimal, as the roads where there is a potential for surface run-off are asphalt or durable crushed rock. All native surfaced roads along the haul route are outside of riparian reserves, along ridge tops or gentle terrain, and have no hydrological connection to any streams. Log hauling would not measurably increase the amount of fine sediment in streams. The roads along the haul route are rocked or paved at stream crossings, and road ditches are well vegetated. Hauling of timber will only be allowed when road related run-off is not present. Little sediment is expected to leave the road surface while timber haul is occurring. Any sediment that is produced from hauling is expected to be immeasurable and indistinguishable from background levels. There are no listed fish species that occur immediately downstream of any aggregate surfaced stream crossing along the haul route. If any sediment did enter stream courses from hauling activities, it would be in very small amounts and for a short-term duration. No adverse effect to fish or their habitat is expected to occur from log hauling activities. There may be slight negative effects to the sediment and substrate indicators but the effects are expected to be minor and insignificant where LFH occurs.

 

Project Element: Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity and Probability Fuels treatments will only occur on landings and would be outside of any stream protection buffer. The disturbance caused by burning landing piles would only be within the perimeter of the landing area. Any soil displaced by fuels treatment would be minimal and localized to the landing areas. There is no causal mechanism for this project element to affect the sediment/turbidity indicator. Fuels treatments are expected to have a neutral effect on turbidity or substrate within streams where listed fish or critical habitat occurs. The effect to the indicator by the project element is discountable.

 

      Element Summary - Fuels treatments are expected to result in only minor, localized disturbances to landing areas. Due to the minimal potential of soil displacement and the distance to listed fish or critical habitat, this project element is expected to have a neutral effect to the stream sediment/turbidity indicator.

 

Indicator Summary Tree falling, ground-based yarding methods, and to some extent cable yarding methods disturb soils that may result in minor sediment movement at the site level. Ground-based harvesting equipment and cable yarding does cause some direct soil displacement which would be mitigated through project design criteria. Surface erosion is likely to occur when trees are felled and yarded with ground-based or cable logging systems. Much of this erosion will be localized is not expected to enter stream channels. Incorporating no-cut stream protection buffers, and restricting ground disturbing activities to drier seasons, will reduce the potential of adverse effects. The use of existing and designated skid trails will reduce the amount of new ground disturbance. The amount of soil displacement and exposed soils is expected to be minimal and would not measurably change turbidity levels or the substrate character of streams in the action area.

 

All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves and would occur along ridge tops or on relatively flat ground and would have no direct hydrologic link to any water source. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 feet. from listed fish habitat. System roads identified for decommissioning are all located along ridge tops, outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. Road maintenance is necessary to keep roads in good condition and to minimize erosion. Limiting road maintenance activities within 200 feet of LFH were there is a hydrological connection will reduce the risk of sediment effecting listed fish. Restricting road work to dry seasons along roads where there are hydrologic connections would reduce the risk of sediment being transported to water sources.

 

There is a high probability that the use of haul roads will introduce some sediment into ditch lines and in some cases to streams. Any input of sediment is expected to be minimal, as the roads where there is a potential for surface run-off are asphalt or durable crushed rock. The roads along the haul route are rocked or paved at stream crossings, and road ditches are well vegetated. Properly designed and placed aggregate road surfacing would greatly minimize the amount of fine sediment from road surfaces entering streams from log haul, especially during and following rainfall events. Hauling of timber will only be allowed when road related run-off is not present. Haul would be restricted if necessary to avoid excessive increases in sedimentation. If any sediment did enter stream courses from hauling activities, it would be in very small amounts, for a short-term duration, and indistinguishable from background levels.

 

There may be negative effects to the suspended sediment and substrate indicators, but any effects are expected to be minor and insignificant in streams where listed fish are found.

 

Indicator: Chemical Contaminants/Nutrients

 

Environmental Baseline: Properly Functioning

There is no known chemical pollution in these watersheds. Increased nutrient levels associated with human recreation are a watershed concern, and elevated pathogenic microorganism levels have been observed in the Bagby Hot Springs area in the Hot Springs Fork. Recreation use is low in the other watersheds associated with the project area, and elevated nutrient levels are not a problem in these subwatersheds.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project activities will not increase chemical pollution unless there is an accidental fuel spill or vehicle accident. Project elements with the potential to affect the indicator include: timber felling and yarding, road construction/maintenance/decommissioning, and fuels treatment.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity Timber felling and yarding will occur within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for LCR steelhead in two units. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 feet from listed fish habitat. All roads constructed during previous entry into stands and are proposed to be reopened are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. System roads identified for decommissioning are outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. Fuel treatments will occur on landings outside of riparian reserves.

 

      Probability There is a low probability that any chemical contamination or increase of nutrients within streams would occur due to the project elements. Fuel powered and hydraulic fluid equipment is used in harvest activities, road reconstruction, renovation, and decommissioning. Contract requirements specify spill containment measures for all machinery and equipment used in timber harvest activities. Fuel and other petroleum products will be stored outside of riparian reserves. Project design criteria specify the refueling of heavy equipment would occur greater than 150 ft. from any stream. Any spills occurring from use of chainsaws use would be minimal amounts of gas and would be localized to very small areas. The no harvest buffers on stream channels are sufficient to minimize potential transport of spilled fuels and fluids during timber falling and ground-based harvest. Past riparian thinning projects have demonstrated that there is a low probability of any significant amount of fuel or oil being spilled near enough to stream channels to present a risk to aquatic resources. Fuels treatment will involve pile burning at landings. No contamination is expected beyond the immediate vicinity of points of ignition and these fuel sources should be consumed by fire.

 

Adherence to project design criteria and mitigation measures will substantially negate any adverse effects to fish species or water quality. These are effective measures to contain potential fuel and fluid transmission into waterways, reducing the possibility of aquatic habitat contamination. The proposed action would have a discountable risk of contaminating aquatic habitat.

 

      Element Summary: Felling, yarding, road work, and fuels treatments project elements create a potential for spills to occur. Past projects have demonstrated that these occurrences are infrequent. The effect to the chemical contaminants/nutrients indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition within the action area. There will be a slightly negative, discountable effect that has limited potential of reaching LFH for steelhead, chinook, or coho.

 

Project Element: Timber Haul

 

      Proximity The haul routes that will be used for this project range from being adjacent and crossing over LFH to crossing over perennial stream channels over three miles from LFH.

 

       Probability The haul route adjacent to LFH is along paved surface main arterial roads that are well maintained, which helps to reduces the risk of accidents. Past timber transport demonstrates that incidents where chemical contaminants are spilled are very rare. Contract requirements specify spill containment measures for all machinery and equipment used in timber harvest activities. A fuel spill kit is required of operators in case of accidental spill, to minimize adverse aquatic effects. The risk of aquatic habitat contamination from timber transport is discountable.

 

       Element Summary Project contract requirements for spill abatement combined with a demonstrated ability to transport timber without incident sufficiently reduce the possibility of contamination to a discountable risk that has limited potential and a low probability of reaching LFH for steelhead, chinook, or coho.

 

Indicator Summary - Past experience indicates that chemical spills may occur but are likely to be very small and result in only discountable risks of stream contamination. There could be a short-term negative effect to the chemical contaminants/nutrients indicator if a spill were to occur. The effect to the chemical contaminants/nutrients indicators will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition within the action area. The potential for an effect to this indicator from project elements where LFH occurs is discountable.

 

Indicator: Physical Barriers

 

Environmental Baseline: Not Properly Functioning

There are numerous road culverts in the subwatersheds of the Collawsh River, some of which are fish passage barriers, mainly to resident fish populations. A culvert located at RM 0.1 of Dutch Creek is a passage barrier to anadromous salmonids though habitat above this point would be limited to steelhead. Culverts, natural falls, or stream gradient limit anadromous fish distribution in all of the subwatersheds associated with the proposed project.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

There are no project elements with causal mechanisms to pace or remove any fish barriers with this proposal. Therefore, there are no causal mechanisms to affect the physical barriers indicator.

 

      Proximity and Probability The proposed action will not create any new fish passage barriers nor will it correct any existing barriers. There is no mechanism to affect the indicator. The proposed action has a neutral effect on this indicator within the action area.

 

Indicator Summary The project elements of the proposed action have no causal mechanism to affect the indicator. Therefore, there is a neutral effect to the physical barrier indicator.

 

Indicator: Large Woody Debris (LWD)

 

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 - At Risk

Lower Collawash Tribs. HUC 6 Not Properly Functioning

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. HUC 6 - At Risk

 

Most of the LWD in the project area subwatersheds have been recruited by debris torrents and slides initiated by large storms, rain-on-snow, or floods; transport from upstream reaches; and windthrow (USDA 1995). The 100+ year flood in 1964 redistributed LWD, and stream cleaning projects removed large amounts of LWD following the flood. In the decades 1950 through 1970, salvage logging and removing LWD from streams was an active FS policy in this watershed. Removal of LWD reduced fish habitat quality and resulted in stream downcutting that is still evident today. Riparian timber harvest and windthrow following harvest has greatly reduced the level of LWD recruitment potential for decades to come (USDA 1995). Dutch Creek and Thunder Creek are the only subwatersheds of the Hot Springs Fork Tributaries that have the desired amount of LWD. All of the streams within the Lower Collawash River are below the standards set in the pathways of indicators. The potential for future woody debris recruitment is poor throughout the watershed due to the early seral characteristics of the riparian vegetation. On average, 30% of the Riparian Reserves in the watershed are in early seral stage, 20% mid seral stage, and 50% late seral stage.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Harvesting trees within Riparian Reserves has the potential to affect the future recruitment of LWD into stream channels and riparian areas. Trees to be harvested under the proposed action fall within the small wood class. The average dbh of trees within the stands is from 10 inches to 14 inches. The proposed action will remove trees that are below the current LWD size category (24).

 

Project elements that involve the harvesting of trees have the potential to affect the LWD indicator. These project elements include falling and yarding, road construction, road re-construction and road renovation. Fuels treatment, timber haul and road decommissioning will not remove any trees. Therefore there is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator. Fuels treatment, timber haul, and road decommissioning will have a neutral effect on the large wood indicator.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

 

      Proximity Timber felling and yarding will occur within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for LCR steelhead in two units. One of these units is also within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for UWR chinook. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. Of these twenty five units, six are located along fish-bearing perennial streams where resident coastal cutthroat trout occur. Felling and yarding will occur outside of the 50 feet stream protection buffer along four perennial fish bearing stream reaches. The distance of proposed units to LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho range from 0.1 mile to over 2.5 miles.

 

      Probability Riparian stands are expected to benefit from silvicultural prescriptions through increased growth and vigor. There is a low probability that thinning within the Riparian Reserves will affect future recruitment of LWD into streams where ESA listed or proposed fish species occur. Treatment of stands will not occur within the no-harvest stream protection buffers. Establishment of no-harvest buffers will maintain immediate, near-term large wood recruitment potential. Riparian hardwoods will not be harvested.

 

Thinning in riparian areas will have a positive affect on LWD recruitment potential in the long-term by increased riparian health and growth rates. In the short term, there would be a reduction of riparian and in-channel large wood recruitment potential in the smaller size classes (12-18 diameter) because there will be fewer trees per acre following harvest outside the no-harvest buffer. The Riparian Reserve treatments will not significantly impact the availability of large wood in downstream habitat occupied by listed species. LWD that enters streams associated with the project area is unlikely to influence future large wood in habitat occupied by ESA species because of the small size of these streams and distance to habitat where ESA species occur. The residual stands will contain approximately 80 trees per acre following harvest activity. This density will provide for future LWD recruitment into project area streams. At the site scale there will be a short-term negative effect to the indicator as the result of thinning within the Riparian Reserves.

 

      Magnitude Stream protection buffers along with prescriptions that retain a RD value of 30 will provide a sufficient number of trees for LWD recruitment over the next few hundred years. Treatments within one site potential tree height will thin from below where the larger trees will be retained thus insuring the largest tree classes will be available for future recruitment. The proposed action would have a short-term negative effect of insignificant magnitude to the LWD indicator.

 

      Element Summary - Riparian stands are expected to benefit from silvicultural prescriptions through increased growth and vigor. There could be a short-term negative effect and long-term positive to the large woody debris indicator at the action area scale. In the short term, there would be a reduction of riparian and in-channel large wood recruitment potential in the smaller size classes (12-18 diameter) because there will be fewer trees per acre following harvest. The Riparian Reserve treatments will not influence the availability of large wood in downstream habitat occupied by listed species. The effect to the large woody debris indicators will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition within the action area. Establishing no-harvest stream protection buffers along all streams along with retaining a residual stand RD value of 30 within one site potential tree height will allow the majority of trees that could potentially be recruited as LWD to be retained. Timber felling and yarding will likely have a short-term negative effect of insignificant magnitude to the LWD indicator.

 

Project Element: Road Construction/Landing Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

 

      Proximity No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 975 feet from listed fish habitat. All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. The re-opening of old temporary roads constructed during prior entry into the stands does occur within riparian reserves in a few instances. These roads are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. Trees will be removed to construct the semi-permanent roads and to reopen the prior constructed roads. System roads identified for decommissioning are all located along ridgetops, outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. Landings will be constructed at the ends of the semi-permanent roads. No new landing construction will occur within 500 feet of LFH or within 200 feet of any other stream.

 

Maintenance activities such as deep patching, ditch cleaning, and brushing will occur along the haul route. The nearest stream crossing over a perennial channel is greater than 1,200 ft. from LFH. Brushing along roads adjacent to LFH would be minimal since these roads are main arterials and are maintained for public use.

 

      Probability All trees to be removed by any new semi-permanent road construction would be located outside of riparian reserves. Trees to be removed by re-opening previously constructed roads within riparian reserves would be outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.). The distance from any perennial stream channel to proposed new road construction or reconstruction would preclude any impacts to the LWD component where listed fish or LFH occur. Due to the distance from any occurrence of listed fish and their habitat, these road activities would have a discountable affect on the LWD indicator.

 

      Element Summary - Construction of new roads or the reopening of existing temporary roads will not occur within the 1 site potential tree height of the Riparian Reserves and will therefore have a discountable effect to the LWD indicator. The road work planned near streams including reconstruction, and maintenance (brushing) would have a neutral effect to the LWD indicator since any vegetation to be removed is small in diameter and does not provide potential recruitment. Any effect would be considered discountable due to the location of the roads and the distance away from listed fish or critical habitat.

 

Project Element: Fuels Treatment

Timber Haul

 

      Proximity and Probability Neither of these project elements will remove any trees. Therefore there is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator. Therefore, the effects of timber haul and fuels treatment on the LWD indicator is neutral.

 

      Element Summary - Neither of these project elements will remove any trees. Therefore there is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator. Timber haul and fuels treatment would have a neutral effect on the LWD indicator.

 

Indicator Summary There may be a slight short-term negative effect on this indicator at the action area scale due to falling and yarding, but the effects are expected to be insignificant to listed fish or their designated critical habitat. This action is expected to provide long term positive effects to the large woody debris indicator at the action area scale by increased riparian health and growth rates. Road construction, road maintenance, and road decommissioning would have a discountable effect on the LWD indicator since there would be no trees removed within the stream influence zone, and the size of trees removed outside of the SIZ would be too small to provide potential recruitment. Timber haul, and fuels treatment project elements, would have no causal mechanism to effect the LWD indicator therefore would have a neutral effect on LWD. The effect to the large woody debris indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition within the 5th field watershed. Establishing minimum 100 ft. no-harvest stream protection buffers along all units adjacent to LFH and 50 ft. minimum no-cut buffers along all perennial channels and intermittent channels less than one mile from LFH, there would be no more than a discountable effect to steelhead, chinook, coho, or any designated critical habitat. Overall, the proposed action is expected to have only a slightly negative but insignificant effect to the LWD indicator where LFH occurs.

 

Indicator: Pool Frequency, Pool Quality, Large Pools, Width/Depth

 

Pool Frequency

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 - At Risk

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. HUC 6 - At Risk

Lower Collawash Tribs. HUC 6 - Not Properly Functioning

 

The number of pools of all depths exceeds the standards for properly functioning criteria in the matrix of pathways and indicators in the Fan, Thunder, and Dutch Creek subwatersheds. However, all of these watersheds have only a few number of pools greater than 3 feet in depth. Pool frequencies within streams surveyed in the Lower Collawash Tributaries subwatershed fall within the not properly functioning criteria. Substrate was the major component in forming pool controls. Because of inadequate LWD recruitment potential to maintain pools over time, this indicator is at risk in the Thunder, Dutch, and Fan Creek subwatersheds

 

Pool Quality

Environmental Baseline: HUC 5 Properly Functioning

HUC 6 - At Risk

 

The majority of pools within the mainstem Collawash River and Hot Springs Fork are primary pools greater than three feet in depth. Pools controls within these watersheds are bedrock dominated. Low numbers of primary pools were observed in all of the subwatersheds that have been surveyed within the project area. Low numbers of primary pools are expected in these higher gradient, small 2nd and 3rd order streams. Road building and timber harvest in these watersheds has affected LWD and sediment, and therefore pool quality in some reaches.

 

Width to Depth Ratio

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 At Risk

HUC 6 watersheds - At Risk

 

All of the tributaries streams surveyed in the Collawash River watershed where salmon or steelhead occur have average width to depth ratios in scour pools that are greater than 10.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements with the potential to affect pool frequency, pool quality, or width to depth ratio through changes in sediment production include timber falling and yarding, road construction/maintenance/re-construction/decommissioning and timber haul. These project elements are not anticipated to have any long-term effect on the indicators for LWD, sediment regime, peak or base flows, and instream habitat. The project elements could potentially contribute small immeasurable amounts of sediment to stream channels in the short-term. The current baseline conditions for these indicators will be maintained with the implementation of the proposed action.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

 

      Proximity Timber felling and yarding will occur within 0.1 mile of designated critical habitat for LCR steelhead in two units on approximately 46 acres. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho. Timber felling and yarding will occur within one site potential tree height on units where associated riparian reserves will be entered. Approximately 448 of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal.

 

      Probability The causal mechanisms of affect to the indicators for pool frequency, pool quality, and large pools include changes to LWD, peak or base flows, or sediment regimes. The indicator for large wood is not expected to be affected by these project elements, thus the current levels of LWD in streams would be maintained. Thinning in Riparian Reserves is expected to improve LWD recruitment potential and increase pool formation in the long-term. The action would not affect pool depths because there is little likelihood of detectable fine sediments entering the streams within the project area. Project implementation is not expected to result in any measurable sediment input into stream courses. Adherence to BMP's and project design criteria, such as no cut buffers, restricting ground based equipment to dry seasons, and suspension yarding to minimize ground disturbance, will reduce the risk of fine sediments entering stream channels and filling in pool habitats. There is little chance of affecting any of the pool indicators where LFH occurs. The proposed action has a low probability of affecting any of the pool habitat indicators.

 

      Element Summary - The effect to the pool habitat indicators of frequency, quality, and large pools by felling and yarding will not be of a sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition within the action area where LFH for steelhead, chinook, or coho occurs. The effects to this indicator at the action area would be no more than slightly negative, but insignificant.

 

Project Element: Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

Timber Haul

 

      Proximity All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 feet from listed fish habitat. All roads constructed during previous entry into stands and are proposed to be reopened are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. System roads identified for decommissioning are outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. The haul routes that will be used for this project range from being adjacent and crossing over LFH to crossing over perennial stream channels over three miles from LFH. All roads that are adjacent to LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho are paved and all stream crossings over LFH are also paved.

 

      Probability The causal mechanisms of affect to the indicators of pool frequency, pool quality, and large pools include changes to LWD, peak or base flows, or sediment regimes. The potential impacts of road construction and road decommissioning on changes to LWD are discountable and insignificant due to the location of road work in relation to riparian reserves. In addition, there is no probability of changes to peak/base flows by these project elements because there is no hydrological link to any waterway with the location of proposed new roads or roads to be decommissioned.

 

Timber haul and road maintenance have causal mechanisms to potentially affect pool habitat indicators. These elements have the potential of generating small amounts of sediment, although the probability of any measurable impact to the indicator would be very low. All crossings over stream channels where steelhead, chinook, or coho occur along the haul route are paved. All aggregate surfaced road crossings are over small perennial or intermittent channels. The nearest aggregate surfaced crossing is along a small non fish-bearing tributary stream over1,215 feet from any LFH. Because of the small size of streams along aggregate portions of the haul route, sediment transport would occur primarily during large storm events and primarily in the year the activities occur. Due to the distance of aggregate surfaced stream crossings from LFH, the smaller sized streams that these crossings occur on, and project design criteria that restricts haul and maintenance activities when conditions exist that may cause generation of road related runoff, there is a very low probability that these project elements will have any negative impact on pool habitat indicators.

 

      Element Summary The effect to the pool habitat indicators by road construction, maintenance, decommissioning, or log haul will not be of a sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition within the 6th field watershed or action area where LFH for steelhead, chinook, or coho occurs. Due to the distance of aggregate surfaced stream crossings from LFH, the smaller sized streams that these crossings occur on, and project design criteria that restricts haul and maintenance activities when conditions exist that may cause generation of road related runoff, there is a very low probability that these project elements will have any negative impact on pool habitat indicators. The effects to this indicator at the action area would be no more than slightly negative, and insignificant.

 

Project Element: Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity and Probability - Any fuels treatment that occurs will take place on landings and will not affect sediment, peak/base flows or LWD input to streams. There is no causal mechanism to affect the pool frequency, quality, or large pool indicators. Fuels treatment would have a neutral effect on the pool indicators.

 

      Element Summary - Any fuels treatment that occurs will take place on landings and will not affect sediment, peak/base flows or LWD input to streams. There is no causal mechanism to affect the indicators. Therefore the effect of the project elements on the pool habitat indicators would be neutral.

 

Indicator Summary Timber felling, yarding; road construction, road maintenance, road decommissioning and timber haul project elements would have insignificant discountable effects on the pool habitat indicators. Any fuels treatment would have a neutral effect since this activity would only take place on landings and will not affect sediment or LWD input to streams. The potential sediment resulting from timber yarding and road construction activities is expected to be insignificant at the action area and is not expected to impact downstream steelhead, chinook, or coho habitat. Due to the distance of aggregate surfaced stream crossings from LFH, stream size where these crossings occur, and project design criteria that restricts haul and maintenance activities when conditions exist that may cause generation of road related runoff, sediment input to streams in the action area were determined to be no more than insignificant. Thinning in Riparian Reserves is expected to improve growth of riparian conifers increasing LWD recruitment potential and pool formation in the long-term. The proposed action would have an insignificant effect on the large pools, pool quality and frequency indicators in the action area.

 

Indicator: Off-Channel Habitat

 

Environmental Baseline: HUC 5 - At Risk

Lower Collawsh Tribs. HUC 6 Not Properly Functioning

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. HUC 6 - At Risk

 

Tributary streams are typically steep in these subwatersheds. Average tributary gradients exceed 9%, and side slopes range from 35% to over 55% throughout much of the watersheds (USDA 1995). Significant amounts of side-channel habitat would not be expected in high-gradient, confined reaches such as those found within the proposed project area. The mainstem Collawash River and Hot Springs Fork do have unconstrained reaches where floodplains are well developed and some slow water side channel habitats do occur. However, some of this habitat has been abandoned is areas by channel migration. Restoration projects have restored some off channel habitat along these streams, and more project opportunities are being developed for the future.

 

 

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements will not likely alter channel-forming processes, stream bank conditions, or any instream habitat indicator. Current off-channel habitat conditions will be maintained.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and yarding

Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

Timber Haul

Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity and Probability . There is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator for off channel habitat as there is no loss of LWD, no measurable increases in peak/base flows, and only an insignificant potential for a short term increase in sediment delivery. No project element would change any stream access to its floodplain or effect side channel habitats. Off-channel habitat will not be affected. As none of the project actions will affect floodplains or off channel habitat for steelhead, chinook, or coho the effect to this indicator is neutral.

 

      Element Summary The project elements have no causal mechanism to affect the off-channel habitat indicator. There are no project elements of the proposed action that would affect the stream's access to its floodplain or any off-channel habitats in the action area. Therefore, project elements of the proposed action would have a neutral effect to the off-channel habitat indicator.

 

Indicator Summary - There are no elements of the action that would affect off channel habitat along LFH within the action area. The effect to the off-channel habitat indicator will be neutral.

 

Indicator: Refugia

 

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 - At Risk

Lower Hot Springs Fork Tribs. HUC 6 At Risk

Lower Collawsh Tribs. HUC 6 Not Properly Functioning

 

Access to habitat is sufficient however; adult seeding is dependent on escapement at the dams below Forest lands. The populations of steelhead, chinook, and coho are wild fish due to sorting of hatchery fish at the dams. The magnitude of the naturally flashy flows in the subwatersheds has been increased by management practices (e.g., timber harvest, drainage density increase, and culverts), making resident fish subject to displacement and/or mortality during high flows. Low LWD levels in the subwatersheds prevent the formation of high-quality, stable pools to serve as velocity breaks and refugia during periods of high run-off. Low pool volumes and shallow depth caused by high sediment loads do not provide good over-wintering, high flow, or summer low-flow refugia. The naturally steep channel gradients in these watersheds (i.e.12-22%) are high-velocity, transport reaches. Pools would be the main velocity break/refugia from high flows in this type of a system.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements with the potential to affect refugia habitat through changes in temperature, LWD recruitment or sediment production include timber falling and yarding, road construction/maintenance/decommissioning and timber haul.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

 

      Proximity - Timber felling and yarding will occur within one site potential tree height of perennial and intermittent streams on units where associated riparian reserves will be entered. No-cut stream protection buffers will be established along all perennial and intermittent stream channels. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho. Units range from 0.1 to 2.3 miles above LFH. Approximately 448 of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal.

 

      Probability The proposed action will not likely affect refugia condition within or downstream of the project area. The probability that felling and yarding would affect refugia is very low. All units will have no-cut stream protection buffers within riparian areas to maintain stream shading and to reduce the risk of sediment input to stream courses. There is a very low probability that thinning within the Riparian Reserves will affect the future recruitment of large wood into streams where ESA listed fish species occur. Timber felling and yarding is expected to have no more than discountable insignificant effects on stream temperature, large woody debris, and sediment/turbidity indicators. These project elements would not change any stream access to its floodplain or effect side channel habitats.

 

      Element Summary Timber felling and yarding will have no more than a discountable insignificant effect to any of the indicators that can affect refugia. Stream protection buffers designated in the project design criteria will reduce the risk of any adverse impacts on stream temperatures. The effect to the large woody debris indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition of refugia within the action area. The stream protection buffers would also reduce the probability of sediments entering the streams where LFH for steelhead, chinook, or coho occur. These project elements would have discountable impacts to the refugia indicator.

 

Project Element: Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

Timber Haul

 

      Proximity - All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 ft. from listed fish habitat. All roads constructed during previous entry into stands that are proposed to be reopened are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. System roads identified for decommissioning are outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. The haul routes that will be used for this project range from being adjacent and crossing over LFH to crossing over perennial stream channels over three miles from LFH. All roads that cross LFH or are adjacent to LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho are paved.

 

      Probability There is a low probability that road construction, road maintenance, road decommissioning, or timber haul will have any more than a discountable effect on refugia where LFH occurs. All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. The re-opening of old temporary roads constructed during prior entry into the stands does occur within riparian reserves in a few instances. These roads are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. Road maintenance activities such as brushing and ditch cleanout along roads adjacent to LFH would be minimal since these are paved main arterial roads that are maintained for public use. System roads identified for decommissioning are all located along ridgetops, outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH. All stream crossings over LFH are paved, and the fills at crossings along aggregate surface roads are densely vegetated. There would be a low probability that there would be any measurable impacts to refugia from sediment related to hauling activities.

 

      Element Summary Road construction, maintenance, decommissioning, and timber haul is expected to have no more than discountable and insignificant impacts to refugia where LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho occur in the action area. The project elements will not have any measurable impact on water quality or instream habitat, nor would they create any no new physical barriers to fish movement. The effect to the refugia indicator by these project elements would be of an insufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition of refugia within the action area. The project elements would have no more than a discountable probability to affect the indicator for refugia.

 

Project Element: Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity and Probability - Any fuels treatment that occurs will take place on landings and will not affect sediment, peak/base flows or LWD input to streams. Therefore there is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator. Fuels treatment would have a neutral effect on the indicator of refugia.

 

      Element Summary - Any fuels treatment that occurs will take place on landings and will not affect sediment, peak/base flows or LWD input to streams. There is no causal mechanism to affect the indicator. Therefore the effect of the project elements on the refugia indicator would be neutral.

 

Indicator Summary - The implementation of the proposed action will not detrimentally affect LWD loading and recruitment potential, instream sediment, off-channel habitat, or stream temperatures. Stream reaches where ESA listed fish species occur are protected by riparian buffers. All refugia within the action area where LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho occurs will be maintained. There will be no negative effects to refugia in the action area. The project elements will not have any measurable impact on water quality or instream habitat where exiting refugia occurs, nor would they create any new physical barriers to fish movement. If there are any negative impacts they would be of an insignificant magnitude to affect the overall condition within the action area. The project elements would have no more that a discountable probability of affecting the refugia indicator.

 

Indicator: Streambank Condition

 

Environmental Baseline: At Risk

Subwatershed summaries note that there are areas of active streambank erosion within all streams that have been surveyed. Actively eroding streambanks and bank instability made up an average of 7% of the streambank areas within the subwatersheds. The channel types of these streams vary by reach. Most are higher gradient B4 channel types in the lower reaches that have a moderate sensitivity to disturbance and a low potential for streambank erosion. The upper reaches of most of the streams within the subwatersheds are high gradient channel types that have high sensitivity to disturbance and very high streambank erosion potential.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements with the potential to impact streambank condition through changes in peak flows includes timber felling, yarding, road construction, and road decommissioning. No actions are proposed along streambanks with the proposed project. No-cut stream protection buffers would reduce any potential for adverse impacts to streambanks condition.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and Yarding

Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

 

      Proximity Units range from 0.1 to 2.3 miles above LFH where steelhead, chinook, and coho occur. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. Approximately 448 of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal. No actions are proposed along streambanks.

 

      Probability The probability that these project elements will affect the streambank condition indicator is very low. The use of nocut stream protection buffers along both perennial and intermittent stream channels will preclude any direct effect on streambanks. Full suspension yarding of logs would be required if there is a need to yard across any stream channel. The proposed action will not increase peak flows and stream bank conditions will be maintained. There would be a very low probability that any of these project elements would affect the indicator for streambank conditions. The project elements would have a discountable effect on stream bank conditions within the action area.

 

      Element Summary - The effect to the streambank condition indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall condition where LFH for steelhead, chinook, and coho occurs. Protection provided by the no-cut stream buffers would reduce any potential for adverse impacts to streambanks condition. The effect to this indicator will be discountable.

 

Project Element: Timber Haul

Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity and Probability These project elements have no causal mechanisms to affect streambank condition. These project elements will have a neutral effect on the indicator.

 

      Element Summary Timber haul and fuels treatment have no causal mechanism to affect streambank condition. These project elements will have a neutral effect on the indicator.

 

Indicator Summary No-cut stream protection buffers and full suspension requirements where yarding over stream channels may occur, are expected to protect streambanks. Streambank condition will be maintained with project implementation. Timber falling, yarding operations and road construction/decommissioning/maintenance activities will have a discountable effect to the streambank condition indicator where listed fish occur. Timber haul and fuels treatment have no causal mechanism to affect streambank condition. These project elements will have a neutral effect on the indicator. Overall, project elemnts of the proposed action would have discountable effects to the indictor of streambank condition.

 

Indicator: Floodplain Connectivity

 

Environmental Baseline: At Risk

Well-developed floodplains are not natural features of the steep, confined, transport reaches typical of these watersheds. There is some indication of channel down cutting or loss of floodplain connections in the stream survey reports. The stream channels within these watersheds are primarily high gradient B or A channel types that typically do not have well-developed floodplains.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements will not likely alter channel-forming processes or stream connectivity to floodplains.

 

 

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and yarding

Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

Timber Haul

Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity Units range from 0.1 to 2.3 miles above LFH where steelhead, chinook, and coho occur. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. Approximately 448 acres of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal.

 

      Probability There is very low probability that the proposed actions would have any affect on floodplain connectivity with the implementation of the project. Project elements have no causal mechanisms that would affect stream connectivity to floodplains. The proposed action will have a discountable effect on the indicator within the action area where LFH occurs.

 

Indicator Summary - There are no elements of the proposed action that would affect the stream's access to its floodplain. The project elements would have a discountable effect to the floodplain connectivity indicator.

 

Indicator: Change in Peak/Base Flow

 

Environmental Baseline: At Risk

Past timber overstory removal timber harvest activities and road construction have likely increased the magnitude and timing of peak stream flows in the watershed, but the change in peak flows or timing cannot be easily quantified. Complete overstory tree removal can result in more snow accumulating in the openings than if the trees hadnt been removed. Road drainage ditches and impervious road surfaces can result in more rapid routing of water to streams than would have occurred in unmanaged watershed. Peak stream flow events are normally concentrated in the months of November through February when Pacific Storm fronts are strongest, resulting in the potential for rain-on-snow events in the transient snow zone.

 

Past timber harvest in riparian areas, followed by vigorous regrowth of riparian vegetation, especially deciduous species, may quickly lead to an evapotranspiration rate higher than pre-harvest conditions, may have reduced summer base flow to streams in the watershed.

 

There are no long term records of streamflows in these watersheds, which would enable analyzing the potential effects of timber harvesting and road building activities on the magnitude and timing of peak flows, as well as any effects on summer base flows.

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Timber felling and yarding, road construction/renovation, and road decommissioning are the only project elements that have a causal mechanism to affect flows, through changes in evapotranspiration as trees are cut, or through increased runoff due to new road construction and the associated compacted road surface. Any changes in evapotranspiration in the thinned stands are likely to be offset by increased evapotranspiration from the remaining trees. No change in water delivery to streams is expected from temporary road construction, since there will be no road ditches and the roads will be decommissioned when they are no longer needed. These new roads will be built on or near ridge top locations and will not have any hydrologic connection to streams.

 

No effects on low summer flows is expected as a result of thinning activities since the riparian areas immediately adjacent to streams will remain largely intact, with no replacement of riparian conifers with significant numbers of deciduous trees/shrubs.

 

The past effects on peak flows from previous overstory forest harvesting are being reduced by continuous forest stand growth and increase in the aggregate recovery percentage (ARP). The ARP analysis indicates that the action alternative would have very little estimated effect on the hydrology (peak flows, channel stability) of the drainages associated with the proposed project (Table 16 page 55).

 

Fuels treatment and timber haul will not result in the removal of any vegetation or additional compaction of soils. They have no causal mechanisms to affect peak or base flows neutral.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling

 

      Proximity Timber felling will occur within two 6th field HUC watersheds of the Collawash. River. Units range from 0.1 to 2.3 miles above LFH. Approximately 448 of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal. Timber felling will occur within one site potential tree height of perennial and intermittent streams on units where associated riparian reserves will be entered. Felling will occur outside of minimum 100 foot no-cut stream protection buffers that will be established along channels adjacent to LFH. All stream channels within one mile of LFH will receive stream protection buffer widths a minimum of 50 feet. Along channels greater than one mile from LFH, stream protection buffers of 50 feet will be established along all perennial channels and intermittent channels would receive buffers of a minimum of 30 feet.

 

      Probability The probability of the proposed action measurably increasing peak flows over the existing conditions is negligible. Forest thinning activities does have potential to change the water cycle by decreasing the current canopy cover within the treated stands. The reduction in canopy closure is unlikely to significantly affect snow accumulation/melt in the proposed harvest units, or result in significantly lower soil moisture levels in the fall which result in small peak flow increases in the fall.

 

      Magnitude - The effects to this indicator will be of an insignificant magnitude where ESA listed or proposed species or habitat occurs. Hydrologic analysis concludes that the project would result in only minor potential changes to peak or base flows. These changes would be immeasurable and undetectable within the action area. The proposed project would only affect approximately 1.5% percent of the Collawash River watershed. No-cut stream protection buffers along with silvicultural prescriptions that retain 50% canopy closure within the secondary shade zone will reduce the magnitude of any changes to peak or base flows.

 

      Element Summary Forest thinning activities does have potential to change the water cycle by decreasing the current canopy cover within the treated stands. The reduction in canopy closure is unlikely to significantly affect snow accumulation/melt in the proposed harvest units, or result in significantly lower soil moisture levels in the fall which result in small peak flow increases in the fall. No-cut stream protection buffers along with silvicultural prescriptions that retain 50% canopy closure within the secondary shade zone will reduce the magnitude of any changes to peak or base flows. The effect to the change in peak/base flow indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall conditions within watershed. The effects to this indicator will be of an insignificant magnitude where ESA listed or proposed species or habitat occurs

 

Project Element: Timber Yarding

Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

 

      Proximity Timber yarding would occur within two 6th field of the Collawash. River. Units range from 0.1 to 2.3 miles above LFH. Approximately 448 of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal. Yarding would occur outside of stream protection buffers. All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 ft. from listed fish habitat. All roads constructed during previous entry into stands that are proposed to be reopened are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. System roads identified for decommissioning are outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH.

 

      Probability These project elements have the potential to affect soil structure and surface/groundwater routing. This can change the capacity of the soil to store water, potentially resulting in a change in surface runoff, peak flows, and reduced base flows. Timber yarding is likely to result in some soil compaction, thus potentially affecting flows. This is unlikely to occur since the proximity of skid roads to stream networks would have no hydrological connection. Any new road needed to access the stands will be semi-permanent and will be obliterated following project completion, thus will not likely result in any increased run-off entering streams. Compacted surfaces within units would be increased by creation of new skid trails. The estimated increase in compaction from new skid tails needed to implement the proposed action is approximately 8%. The proposed treatments would occur within approximately 1.5% percent of the Collawash River watershed. There will not be any negative effects of a significant magnitude to listed fish or fish habitat because any increase in peak or base flows would not be detectable.

 

      Element Summary The timber yarding, road construction, road maintenance, and road decommissioning project elements have the potential to affect soil structure and surface/groundwater routing mainly by increased soil compaction. The proximity of road related activities to streams will reduce the magnitude of any significant affects to changes in peak flows since there is no hydrological connection. All new roads needed to access the stands will be semi-permanent therefore are most likely to be decompacted before the season where surface run off is a concern. The proposed treatments would occur on 1.5% percent of the total acres within the Collawash River 5th field HUC watershed. The limited spatial extent of the project and proximity to LFH will result in only minor insignificant effects to the flow indicator by these project elements.

 

      Indicator Summary - Forest thinning activities does have potential to change the water cycle by decreasing the current canopy cover within the treated stands. No-cut stream protection buffers along with silvicultural prescriptions that retain 50% canopy closure within the secondary shade zone will reduce the magnitude of any changes to peak or base flows. The proximity of road related activities to streams will reduce the magnitude of any significant affects to changes in peak flows since there is no hydrological connection. The ARP analysis indicates that the action alternative would have very little estimated effect on the hydrology (peak flows, channel stability) of the drainages associated with the proposed project. The effect to the change in peak/base flow indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall conditions within watershed. There is not expected to be any measurable effect to changes in the peak/base flow indicator within the action area or downstream where ESA listed fish species or habitat occurs. Any negative effect to the change in peak/base flow indicator will not be of sufficient magnitude to affect the overall conditions within watershed.

 

Table 16. Current and Post-Harvest ARP Values Collawash River

Drainage Name

Current ARP Value

Post Harvest ARP Value

Fan Creek

79

78.4

Farm Creek

77

76.9

Lower Collawash River Tributaries North (Sluice, Slide, Cap, Jack Davis)

91

90.7

Lower Collawash River Tributaries South (Paste, Peat)

89

88.6

Thunder Creek

79

78.3

Blister Creek

82

81.9

Dutch Creek

73

72.5

Hot Springs Fork Tributaries (Sand, Pink, Rock, Ferry)

85.5

84.5

 

The proposed treatments would occur on 1.5% percent of the total acreage within the Collawash River watershed. The limited spatial extent of the project and proximity to LFH will result in only minor insignificant effects to the flow indicator.

 

Indicator: Increase in Drainage Network

 

Environmental Baseline: Not Properly Functioning

The channel network due to road ditches, and created openings attributed to road surfaces and harvest areas have been expanded within all the subwatersheds of the Collawash River Basin. The increase in drainage network from previous management activities is likely to have increased peakflows to different degrees during different decades. The increase in drainage network of the subwatersheds from past activities during different decades ranges from low estimates of 10% to high estimates of 57% (Collawash Watershed Analysis 1995).

 

Table 17. Channel Expansion within subwatersheds of Collawash HUC 5

Subwatershed

Channel Expansion

Low Est. %

High Est. %

Lower Collawash Tribs.

15

37

Hot Springs Fork Tribs.

11

28

Thunder Creek

11

27

Dutch Creek

10

25

Fan Creek

23

57

 

Potential Effects of Action:

Project elements with causal mechanisms to affect this indicator are timber felling, yarding, road construction, road maintenance, and road decommissioning. Timber felling and yarding could potentially increase the drainage network by altering the forest canopy which could result in changes in evapotranspiration rate and by compacting soils which may lead to increased surface run-off. The construction of new roads with road drainage ditches is the primary source of potential increases in the stream drainage network. Timber haul and fuels treatment do not have causal mechanisms to affect the drainage network indicator. These elements will have a neutral affect on the indicator.

 

Project Element: Timber Felling and yarding

 

      Proximity - Units range from 0.1 to 2.3 miles above LFH where steelhead, chinook, and coho occur. Twenty-five units are proposed within 0.5 miles of LFH. Approximately 448 of riparian reserves will be entered within the Collawash River watershed under the project proposal. Stream protection buffers would not allow felling within 100 ft of channels adjacent to LFH, within 50 feet of channels that are less than one mile from LFH, or within 50 feet of perennial channels and 30 feet of intermittent channels that are greater than one mile from LFH.

 

      Probability Timber felling and yarding has the potential to increase the drainage network by altering the forest canopy which could result in changes in evapotranspiration rate and by compacting soils which may lead to increased surface run-off. This increase in surface water runoff has a potential to increase surface soil erosion and lead to an increase in the watershed drainage network.

 

      Magnitude Establishing stream protection buffers, using existing skid trails whenever feasible, restricting ground based operations on steeper slopes, and restricting ground based yarding during the wet time of the year, will minimize the extent of newly compacted soils within the project area. These project design criterion will reduce the magnitude of effects to the indicator. There fore, the effect to the indicator from timber felling and yarding is slightly negative and of an insignificant magnitude.

 

      Element Summary - Timber felling and yarding has the potential to increase the drainage network by altering the forest canopy which could result in changes in evapotranspiration rate and by compacting soils which may lead to increased surface run-off. Project design criterion is expected to reduce the magnitude of effects to the indicator. These project elements would have an insignificant negative effect on the drainage network indicator where LFH or ESA listed fish occur.

 

Project Element: Road Construction/Maintenance/Decommissioning

 

      Proximity All new road construction is located outside of riparian reserves. No new semi-permanent road to be constructed is closer than 1,160 ft. from listed fish habitat. All roads constructed during previous entry into stands and are proposed to be reopened are outside of one site potential tree height (180 ft.) and no closer than 1,235 feet from LFH. System roads identified for decommissioning are outside of riparian reserves, and are greater than 500 ft. from LFH where steelhead, chinook, and coho occur.

 

      Probability The project proposes to re-open approximately 2.8 miles (14,740 ft.) of old existing temporary road and construct 7,920 feet of new semi-permanent road. The new road construction on consists of 6,900 feet of construction on undisturbed ground and 920 feet of construction on old skid trail that have been previously disturbed. The new roads will be built on or near ridge top locations and will not have any hydrologic connection to streams. There are no stream crossings at any of these roads and the roads are located away from any water source. There is a low probability that the stream drainage network will be increased by these roads since any runoff would not drain into any streams. Decommissioning approximately 1.8 miles of existing system roads will have only a slight positive any effect on the drainage network indicator since these roads have no direct hydrological link to any streams. Road maintenance would have a positive insignificant affect to the drainage network in a case where road blading or shaping could correct or improve existing drainage features. The proposed road work would have a positive effect on the drainage network indicator.

 

      Magnitude Road related activities would have a slightly positive, but insignificant effect to the indicator in the action area. Road maintenance is expected to correct or improve existing drainage features. The effects to the drainage network indicator by the road related project elements would be of a positive nature but would unlikely be measurable. This will be of an insignificant magnitude where ESA listed fish species or habitat occurs.

 

      Element Summary - The new roads will be built on or near ridge top locations and will not have any hydrologic connection to streams. There are no stream crossings at any of these roads and the roads are located away from any water source. There is a low probability that the stream drainage network will be increased by these roads since any runoff would not drain into any streams. Road maintenance is expected to correct or improve existing drainage features. The effects to the drainage network indicator by the road related project elements would be positive but would unlikely be measurable at the action area scale. The road related project elements would have a positive insignificant effect on the drainage network indicator where LFH or ESA listed fish species occur.

 

      Project Element: Timber Haul

Fuels Treatment

 

      Proximity and Probability - These project elements do not have any causal mechanisms to affect the drainage network. These actions do not result in the extension of any roadside ditches or disrupt any subsurface water flow. These project elements have a neutral effect on the indicator.

 

      Element Summary - These project elements do not have any causal mechanisms to affect the drainage network. These actions do not result in the extension of any roadside ditches or disrupt any subsurface water flow. These project elements have a neutral effect on the indicator.

 

Indicator Summary - New road construction, reconstruction, and decommissioning will not create or remove any road ditches that are hydrologically connected to streams. The proposed road work will have insignificant, positive effects to the drainage network indicator as a result of the potential to improve or correct drainage features by blading or outsloping the road surface. Timber falling and yarding would have slightly negative but insignificant effect on the indicator. Fuels treatment and timber haul have no causal mechanisms to affect the drainage network indicator therefore, these elements would have a neutral effect on the indicator. The overall effect to the indicator by the proposed action is insignificant.

 

WATERSHED CONDITION INDICATORS

 

Indicator: Road Density and Location

 

Environmental Baseline: Collawash River HUC 5 - At Risk

HUC 6 watersheds Not Properly Functioning

 

Road densities with the Collawash River 5th field watershed are 1.9 miles/sq.mile. Road densities within the subwatersheds associated with the 2007 Plantation Thinning Project mostly exceed the criteria for an at risk watershed.

 

Table 18. Road Densities Collawash River subwatersheds

Subwatershed

Total Roads

(miles)

Stream Crossings

Road Density

(miles/sq.mile)

Lower Collawash Tribs.

59

134

3.9

Hot Springs Fork Tribs.

40

78

3.5

Thunder Creek

4.9

11