Soil Quality Standards

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Soil Quality StandardsRandy L. Davis National Soils Program Leader USDA Forest Service March 30, 2006

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Soil Quality Standards and Recent Court DecisionsOutline of this presentation: FSM 2550/FSH 2509 Iron Honey Restoration Project Lolo NF Post Burn Project National SQS Monitoring Protocol Project

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FSM 2550 – Soil ManagementFSM 2554 – Soil Quality Monitoring 2554.03 – Policy. Monitor the soil resource to detect significant changes in soil properties resulting from the implementation of management plans.

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FSH 2509.18 Soil Management HandbookFSH 2509.18 – Soil Quality Monitoring 2.04a – Regional Foresters Develop soil quality standards 2.04b- Forest Supervisors Approve soil quality monitoring plans 2.05 – Definitions Soil productivity Significant change: 15% reduction in soil productivity Significant impairment: change will extend beyond planning horizon Detrimental soil disturbance 2.2 – Soil Quality Standards Base threshold values ~15% reduction in soil productivity potential Use as a guideline, use with judgment More stringent guideline can be used where appropriate

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Iron Honey Project Ruling Idaho Panhandle NFThe proposed watershed restoration project was to treat 1,408 acres across 14 watersheds including the removal of 17.5 million board feet of timber, reconstructing 29 miles of existing road, constructing .2 miles of new road and 2 miles of temporary road. ROD issued February 2002. Highlights of the August 2004 U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Decision: “The FS did not walk, much less test, the land in the activity area.” “..., we hold that FS’s reliance on the spreadsheet models, unaccompanied by on-site spot verification on the model’s predictions, violate NFMA.”

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Lolo NF Post Burn ProjectThe 74,000 acres had burned across the Lolo NF in the summer of 2000. The proposed project included commercial thinning, prescribe burning, and salvage logging. The ROD was issued in July 2002 Highlights of the December 2005 U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Decision: The Regional Soil Quality Standard: “…the purpose of the Standard is to ensure compliance with the substantive mandates of NFMA.” On-site Verification of Soil Conditions: “…did not test much of the activity area.” The analysis used data from areas with ecological characteristics similar to the proposed harvest units. This methodology was disqualified with the Iron Honey decision. “…we conclude that the FS’s plan to verify its estimates post-decision fails to satisfy NEPA - “NEPA requires consideration of the potential impact of an action before the action takes place.”

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National SQS Monitoring Protocol ProjectPartners: WO Ecosystem Management Coordination Region 1 Rocky Mountain Research Station Michigan Tech University University of Idaho Initial work begins April 2006 Concludes in FY2008 SQS Monitoring Protocol Technical Guide Workplan includes: Testing sampling methodologies Remeasuring disturbed forested sites Comparing against reference benchmark sites Evaluation of the validity of the 15% reduction in soil productivity

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Last Updated: 8th March 2018

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