1988: Final Supplement to the FEIS is Published
In August, the Final Supplement to the EIS was published in two very large volumes and a separate summary of the new supplement. The Forest Service also released a series of amendments to the previous management plan (as laid out in the Regional Guide of the Pacific Northwest Region, 1984). It was prepared after a study of almost 42,000 comments received on the 1986 Draft Supplement.
In this new Final Supplement, the Forest Service narrowed the number of alternative management plans down to seven. Their preferred alternative was still Alternative F. The new supplement contained a few changes from the 1986 draft. For example, the inventory of suitable owl habitat was revised, the number of alternatives was reduced and modified, and the ratios used to estimate changes in employment were refined. It also carefully addressed other areas of concern, such as the environmental consequences of new management plans, spotted owl viability, timber supplies, and social and economic effects.
The new supplement also identified seven major issues and concerns, and explained how the alternatives addressed these critical issues.
- The cumulative effects of timber harvest on spotted owls, and whether the effects are harmful or beneficial.
- Uncertainties over the 1984 Regional Guide's direction to adequately consider effects of timber harvest on spotted owl population viability.
- Risks to population viability due to current timber harvest in the face of incomplete information and the need for a worst-case analysis.
- The economic and social effects associated with alternative levels of protection of spotted owl habitat.
- The need to minimize effects on other resources that result from protecting spotted owl habitat.
- Disagreement about habitat requirements of spotted owls.
- The need to address management of old-growth forests distinct from the management of spotted owl habitat.
After publication of the Final Supplement, the Forest Service offered a public comment period about this final report. Then in December, Forest Service Chief Dale Robertson officially announced that after careful consideration, Alternative F would be the new management plan.
“It is my judgment that this direction meets the intent of the law and regulations for population viability as part of meeting overall multiple-use objectives. These standards and guidelines will ensure the continued existence of the species by maintaining a high degree of security from the various factors that can jeopardize the existence of a species in an area....This has been an extremely difficult decision to make.”
Robertson explained that his decision on the guidelines was based on the best information currently available, but changes could be made to reflect new information as it emerged about the spotted owl
USDA Forest Service. “Final Supplement to the Environmental Impact Statement for an Amendment to the Pacific
Northwest Regional Guide – Summary.” USDA Forest Service of Portland, OR, 1988.
Northern Spotted Owl: Amendments to the Regional Guide for the Pacific Northwest Region. 1984, 1988.