For Immediate Release: September 29, 2023
Laura Cunningham, Western Watersheds Project, (775) 513-1280, email@example.com
REDDING, Calif.— The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a notice that begins a 90-day comment period on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public lands in widely scattered but important locations across a large swath of northern California.
“We encourage the BLM to use large BLM-managed parcels as the lynchpin for a network of land managed for wilderness attributes and corridors for wildlife connectivity,” said Laura Cunningham, California Director at Western Watersheds Project. “BLM should strive to provide for large landscapes and inter-connected pathways for large predator movement and dispersal.”
The current Resource Management Plans for the Arcata Field Office and Redding Field Office of the BLM are in need of updating since they are both over 30 years old. The draft EIS would take public comment and analyze a revision of these plans. The old plans would be combined into a new Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan.
The diversity of fish and wildlife species in the planning area is large, including such species as the Tehama chaparral snail, Lost River sucker, shortnose sucker, Pacific giant salamander, foothill yellow-legged frog, northwestern pond turtle, western snowy plover, Northern and California spotted owls, greater sandhill crane, bald eagle, tri-colored blackbird at Battle Creek, bank swallow, ruffed grouse, Pacific fisher, Humboldt marten, and Roosevelt and tule elk.
In addition, California’s growing wolf population has been spreading westward and southward from initial packs that formed in the Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta regions. Conservation groups have called on the BLM to improving wildlife connectivity by managing public lands such as between the King Range and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park; between Butte Creek and Larabee Buttes; and from Red Mountain Wilderness west to Standish Hickey State Park and north to all the Northern Red Mountain public lands. This would help connect the Pacific Ocean shore to the East Branch South Fork Eel River, through the Cascades and northern Sierra Nevada for wildlife corridors.
“While balancing multiple uses, like grazing, recreation, energy, BLM must ensure that wildlife, fishes, and plants get the protection they need,” said Cunningham.
Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead trout run the Eel River, presents the best opportunity on the Pacific Coast to restore watershed’s capacity to produce ecologically significant populations of these fish. BLM managed many parcels in the Eel River watersheds should be managed for fish. Cannabis cultivation, logging, and livestock grazing have degraded public lands in this watershed.
Salmonids face peril due to habitat degradation caused by livestock grazing. Many streams suffer from high water temperatures caused by removal of important woody cover species such as willows and other riparian vegetation. Streambanks have collapsed due to overgrazing and erosion from trampling.
Grazing on BLM-managed lands also threatens salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento River Bend and on lands next to the Battle Creek and the Lost Coast areas.
“The cold, clear waters of Butte Creek in the Van Duzen River watershed are a refugium for one of the largest chinook salmon runs and breeding areas in the state and should be prioritized for management,” said Cunningham. “Beavers play an important role in stream ecology and greatly influence water tables and riparian soils, and conservation groups have emphasized beaver restoration in the planning area.”
A high diversity of rare plants grow through these lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, such as the Red Mountain catchfly (Silene campanulata subsp. campanulata)—which is state-endangered and known only from Red Mountain.
The EIS will also analyze citizen-nominated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and Wilderness Study Areas.
In addition, Tribal lands and reservations for 31 federally-recognized Native American Tribes fall within the planning area, and the BLM-administered lands include sacred sites, gathering areas, and other places important to Tribes.
The planning area is in Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Trinity, Shasta, Tehama, and Butte counties, California, and encompasses about 382,200 acres of public land.