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United States Department of Agriculture

Forest Service

Tongass National Forest

RIO - MB-363

June 1998


Canal Hoya Timber Sale

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Environmental Impact Statement


United States Department of Agriculture



Alaska Region

Tongass National Forest Stikine Area P.O. Box 309

Petersburg, Alaska 99833

File Code: 1950

Date: May 15, 1998

Dear Reviewer:

Here is your copy of the Record of Decision and the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Canal Hoya Timber Sale, Stikine Area, Tongass National Forest. The Record of Decision explains my decision to select Alternative 3, which includes the harvest of 14 million board feet of timber from 660 acres and the construction of 7.1 miles of road. The decision implements Alternative 3 as modified from the Final EIS. In response to public and agency comments, Alternative 3 was modi- fied in the Final EIS to maintain the economic viability of potential future roads in the Canal Value Comparison Unit by replacing some units proposed in the Draft EIS: and by moving a segment of Road 6960 to address concerns about stream crossings. In the Record of Decision, a further modifi- cation was made in which a segment of Road 6960 was eliminated due to unexpected bridge and road construction costs.

The appeal period will begin the day after we publish notice in the Petersburg Pilot, the official newspaper of record for decisions made by the Stikine Area Assistant Forest Supervisor. This date is anticipated to be June 5, 1998. The appeal period will last 45 days. I expect the appeal deadline to fall on July 20, 1998. We will implement the decision no sooner than five working days after the close of the appeal period.

As the Stikine Area Assistant Forest Supervisor, I am responsible for this decision. Please direct any correspondence or requests for additional copies to Scott Posner, IDT Leader, P.O. Box 51,

Wrangell, AK 99929, or call (907) 874-2323.



Assistant Forest Supervisor

Caring for the Land and Serving People

Printed on Recycled Paper

Record of Decision

Canal Hoya Timber Sale Record of Decision


This Record of Decision (ROD) documents my decision to select an alternative from the Canal Hoya Timber Sale Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS). The selection includes the specific harvest unit locations, requirements for harvesting timber and constructing associated roads, and log transfer facilities to be used.


The proposed project is a component of the overall timber sale program on the Tongass National Forest. Timber sales are allowed by the Forest Plan in order to maintain a supply of timber from National Forest lands for Southeast Alaska.

Project History

Public scoping, data collection and analysis, and documentation began with the Notice of Intent published in the Federal Register in December 1996. Following field studies of resource condi- tions, a second Notice of Intent reduced the estimated timber volume for the project from 20 mil- lion board feet (MMBF) to 10-17 MMBF in October 1997. The purpose and need statement for the project was also changed to reflect that volumes were a projected outcome of the purpose and need for the project. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) was distributed in January 1998 and the comment period continued into March 1998. This Record of Decision and Final EIS of the Canal Hoya Timber Sale disclose the environmental effects of the alternatives considered and document the decision for authorization of activities in the project area.

Purpose and Need

The purpose and need for the proposed timber harvest is to respond to the goals and objectives identified by the Forest Plan for the timber resource while moving the Canal Hoya Project Area towards the desired future condition for all resources. The Forest Plan identified the following goals and objectives:

1) Manage the timber resource for production of saw timber and other wood products from suitable timber lands made available for timber harvest, on an even-flow, long-term sustained yield basis and in an economically efficient manner (USD A Forest Service 1997a, page 2-4).

2) Seek to provide a timber supply sufficient to meet the annual market demand for Tongass National Forest timber, and the demand for the planning cycle (page 2-4).

3) Maintain and promote industrial wood production from suitable timber lands, providing a continuous supply of wood to meet society’s needs (page 3-135 and 3-144).

4) Produce desired resource values, products, and conditions in ways that also sustain the di- versity and productivity of ecosystems (page 2-1).

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The Canal Hoya Timber Sale is expected to provide between 10 to 17 million board feet to the timber industry. The range of alternatives considered in this Environmental Impact Statement was determined during our analysis and reflects issues raised during scoping.


This Record of Decision documents my decision to make timber volume available from the Ca- nal Hoya project area on the mainland south of the Bradfield Canal to meet the Stikine Area’s timber sale program goals. My decision encompasses the following

whether or not timber volume should be made available for harvest, and if so, how much;

the location and design of timber harvest units;

the location and design of associated road corridors; and

mitigation and monitoring measures associated with implementation of timber harvest.

It is my decision to choose Alternative 3, as modified in this Record of Decision, from the Final EIS as the Selected Alternative for implementation in the Canal Hoya project area.

This decision is responsive to issues raised during scoping, data gathering, and utilizes public and agency responses to the Draft EIS to shape the final decision.

Changes to the Selected Alternative From the Final EIS

After we developed the Final EIS, engineering design work on road 6960 revealed that two specified bridge crossings beyond unit 19 (see Figure 2-3 on page 2-15 of the Final EIS), which would be needed in crossing Hoya Creek and West Fork Hoya Creek, would have to be longer than was previously thought. The Hoya Creek crossing would require a 104 foot bridge and crossing West Fork Hoya Creek would require a fifty foot bridge. The 104 foot bridge would cost over $180,000 and the 50 foot bridge would cost about $60,000. Construction of the 1.5 mile segment of specified road, with associated bridges and temporary roads (and a temporary crossing on West Fork Hoya Creek) would cost more than $500,000.

Although helicopter yarding is considerably more expensive than cable yarding; when the road construction costs associated with this segment of road are added into the cable yarding costs, it would be more economical to yard current and potential future volume beyond unit 19 by heli- copter. This is due in part to the limited amount of cable operable ground near this segment of road. Future access to timber available for harvest is still feasible without the road. Timber on available acres north of the powerline could be helicopter yarded to the water and timber south of the power line could be flown to landings adjacent to the portion of road 6960 that will be con- structed. The Suitability and Operability map on page 3-4 of the FEIS shows areas where future harvest could occur.

With these considerations in mind, I have elected to drop 1.3 miles of road construction on the proposed 6960 road beyond unit 19 in alternative 3. The units served by this road segment will be helicopter yarded to a landing in unit 19 or to a barge landing (for the volume in unit 24 north of the power line). The percentage of trees retained in units 24 and 23 will remain the same.

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Helicopter yarding will allow more scattered distribution of the leave trees prescribed within the units, so partial harvest with diameter limits will be used. A buffer strip on either side of the power line in unit 24 will be retained in order to allow safe helicopter operations on either side of the power line in this area.

This change will reduce total specified road construction on the sale by 1.3 miles. It increases the distance of any road construction from the Anan observatory to about 6.5 miles and would reduce impacts on wildlife security due to the reduced presence, and associated use, of new road in the area. The change will also allow for more random distribution of leave trees in units 23 and 24, allowing for reduced visual impact from the harvest in this area.

Selected Alternative as Modified

The Selected Alternative, as modified from the Final EIS, allows harvest of 14 million board feet of timber from 660 acres in the project area. An estimated 6 miles of Specified Forest Develop- ment Road and 1.1 miles of temporary road will be constructed. Design features of the harvest units and roads are described in detail on the Unit and Road Description Cards in Appendices A and B, respectively, in the Final EIS.

The 1997 Forest Plan, through the Record of Decision, places certain requirements on timber sale projects for which environmental analysis had begun, but no NEPA decision made, at the time of the effective date of the Plan (July 31, 1997). There are two requirements:

projects must be consistent with all applicable management direction of the pro- posed plan, and

where needed, additional measures described in Appendix N of the Forest Plan ROD will be incorporated; this need will be determined through interagency review (Forest Plan ROD, p. 41).

I have determined, through review of the analysis in the Final EIS for the Canal Hoya Timber Sale, that this project incorporates all applicable management direction from the 1997 Forest Plan and is fully consistent with its goals, objectives, Forest-wide standards and guidelines, and management area prescriptions as they apply to the project area. I have also determined that the required interagency review and analysis of the need for additional measures was accomplished, and such measures have been incorporated as necessary.

Non-Significant Amendment to the Forest Plan

Based on the project level analysis as described in the Old-growth Management Prescriptions and Appendix K of the Tongass National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (1997), the Hoya Small Old Growth Reserve will be adjusted to better meet size, location and habitat composition. Specifically, the Reserve as mapped in the Forest Plan met the productive old growth acreage requirement of small reserves, but the size of the reserve was selected before the criteria in the Forest Plan were finalized, so the current total size of the reserve is smaller than the 16% of the VCU specified in Appendix K the Forest Plan.

The Secretary of Agriculture’s implementing regulation indicates the determination of signifi- cance is to be "[b]ased on an analysis of the objectives, guidelines and other contents of the

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forest plan" (36 CFR 219.10(f)). The Forest Service has issued guidance for determining what constitutes a "significant amendment" under NFMA. This guidance, in Forest Service Handbook 1909.12 - Chapter 5.32, identifies four factors to be used in determining whether a proposed change to a forest plan is significant or not significant. These four factors are timing; location and size; goals, objectives, and outputs; and management prescriptions. An analysis of the fac- tors is presented below.

Timing - The Forest Plan Revision was completed in 1997. The Old-growth Habitat Manage- ment Prescription in the Plan indicates the small mapped reserves have received differing levels of field verification and integration of site-specific information in their design. During project level environmental analysis, for project areas that include or are adjacent to mapped old growth habitat reserves, the size, spacing and habitat composition of mapped reserves may be further evaluated. Several timber sale projects are in progress forest- wide, but the Canal Hoya Timber Sale EIS is one of the first project decisions that include the decision to amend the Plan.

Location and Size - The area to the south of the Hoya reserve is isolated from timber harvest by the location of the reserve and would serve the same function as a portion of the reserve. We will increase the size of the reserve by adding the isolated area to the south, which is currently designated Timber Production management prescription, but cannot be accessed economically for timber management. This will increase the size of the Hoya Old Growth Reserve by ap- proximately 7120 acres, of which 196 acres were classified in Forest Plan calculations as iso- lated, but suitable for timber production.

Goals, Objectives, and Outputs

Goals - The Forest Plan Goal for Biodiversity is to maintain healthy forest ecosys- tems; maintain a mix of habitats at different spatial scales (i.e. site, watershed, island, province and forest) capable of supporting the full range of naturally occurring flora, fauna, and ecological processes native to Southeast Alaska. The adjustment to the Hoya Reserve is consistent with the Goals of the Plan.

Objectives - The Forest Plan Objectives include to maintain a Forest-wide system of old growth forest habitat (includes reserves, non-development LUDs, and beach, estu- ary and riparian corridors) to sustain old growth associated species and resources; and, to ensure that the reserve system meets the minimum size, spacing and composi- tion criteria described in Appendix K of the Plan. The adjustment to the Hoya Re- serve was specifically designed to meet the Forest Plan Objectives.

Outputs - Adjustment of the Hoya Small Old Growth Reserve will have minimal ef- fect on Forest Plan Outputs, primarily because the majority of the productive old growth added to the Reserve was not classified in Forest Plan calculations as suitable for timber production.

Management Prescriptions - The Hoya Small Old Growth Reserve has been adjusted as noted in the Forest Plan Record of Decision and in accordance with the Old-growth Land Use Designa- tion Management Prescription. None of the standards and guidelines associated with the Man- agement Prescriptions have been changed.

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Conclusion - Based on a consideration of the four factors above, I conclude adoption of this amendment is not significant in a NFMA context. This amendment is fully consistent with cur- rent Forest Plan goals and objectives. The amendment provides added detail on implementation of the Old-growth Habitat Management Prescriptions of the Forest Plan.

I hereby amend the Forest Plan with this non- significant amendment by adjusting the Hoya Small Old Growth Reserve as shown on the Record of Decision Map and documented in the project record and Final EIS for the Canal Hoya Timber Sale.

Reasons for the Decision

In making my decision, I considered all issues raised during the development and scoping of this project and took into account the competing interests and values of the public. Many divergent public, personal, and professional opinions were expressed during the analysis. This decision may not completely satisfy any one particular group or individual. However, I have considered all views and feel my decision is reasonable. The Selected Alternative provides a beneficial mix of resources for the public within the framework of the existing laws, regulations, policies, public needs and desires, and capabilities of the land, while meeting the stated purpose and need for this project. I believe that Alternative 3 also best meets the goals and objectives developed for the area under the Forest Plan while balancing site specific concerns unique to the project area.

Although all action alternatives meet the purpose and need to one degree or another, the Selected Alternative embodies several characteristics that resulted in it being the alternative chosen for implementation. The Selected Alternative:

addresses the issue of vulnerability of Anan bears by not building a road in the Canal Value Comparison Unit (VCU) for this entry. The selected alternative also harvests the smallest area (70 acres) in the Canal VCU;

will maintain the economic viability of possible future road construction for timber harvest in the Canal VCU by deferring harvest along the potential road corridor;

allows a high potential for adaptive management by allowing us to monitor the impacts of road construction and use in the Hoya VCU, before deciding whether to construct roads in the Canal VCU in the next entry;

will be less noticeable from the Eastern Passage Travel Route near Blake Island than alternatives requiring road construction in the Canal VCU;

will meet the desired condition for scenic values of Partial Retention from the Eastern Passage Travel Route in the Canal VCU; and

balances the above issues with timber volume and associated jobs better than the other alternatives

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The Canal Hoy a decision is a complex one and below I explain the reasons for my decision in greater detail as related to the more frequent comments I received from the draft EIS.


Roads and their associated use were a common issue or concern in public and agency comments we received on the Draft EIS. In the Hoya VCU, Alternative 3 will construct roads to allow harvest south of the powerline, which traverses the area from east to west. A considerable portion of the timber available for harvest in the project area (as allocated under the Forest Plan) lies south of the powerline. Harvest would not be practical south of the powerline without roads using current or foreseeable technology. Due to risk to both pilots and the power supply itself, helicopter yarding over powerlines is not permitted. Alternative 3, will construct roads beneath the powerline. This makes harvest feasible in more of the area within the Hoya VCU in which timber management is one of the goals under the Forest Plan. Harvest along these roads will reduce yarding costs by making cable harvest systems possible. This will enhance the economic efficiency of this sale and possible future timber sales in the area.

Roads and An an

Alternatives 1 and 2 make the commitment of road construction closer to Anan at this time. This approach foregoes the opportunity to monitor road use and harvest effects of the more distant road system in Hoya VCU before making any similar commitment in Canal VCU. I believe Alternative 3 is the more conservative approach. Public and agency comment on the project exhibit a high degree of concern over the proximity of harvesting to Anan. Many responses to the Draft EIS expressed concerns centered on the bears of Anan, but also reflect concern for the economic and recreational importance of the Anan bears and the Anan Wildlife Observatory. Forest Plan standards are fully implemented under each alternative and these standards were developed mindful of the importance and presence of bears throughout the Tongass. However, I concluded that some unique situations exist at Anan which require a careful look at the specific situation in the area. Among these are: the combination of high levels of bear use in Anan Creek (especially during salmon runs), the nationally known quality of the Anan Wildlife Observatory with its attendant recreational and commercial value, and the possible vulnerability of the Anan bears to hunting due to habituation of the bears by the steady exposure of bears to humans at the Anan Wildlife Observatory.

By choosing Alternative 3, no roads would be built in the Canal VCU, which is adjacent to Anan. The monitoring data on the Anan black bears indicates significantly less use of the Hoya watershed compared to the Canal watershed (FEIS, page 3-42). Creditable literature and studies cited in the EIS indicate that the average home range for Anan black bears would extend to the Canal VCU, but does not extend into the Hoya VCU (FEIS, page 3-56). I know that our bear monitoring sampled 19% of the estimated Anan black bear population, not 100%. I also acknowledge average home ranges or modeling of bear movements represent generalizations. Individual bears will, in fact, be individuals not averages or models and some do use the Hoya watershed. However, even acknowledging these limitations, I believe that the data in the EIS clearly show that it is very likely that much less Anan bear use occurs in Hoya VCU than in Canal VCU. For this reason I concluded that selection of an alternative that builds road in Hoya, but not Canal VCU

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(such as Alternative 3) would provide a prudent margin for adaptive management in relation to impacts on the Anan bears.

The road closures, hunting restrictions from new roads, and the physical isolation of the site all would contribute to make mitigations of the road systems in Alternative 1 and 2 largely effective. However, the road building under these two alternatives in Canal would allow easier walking access for hunting in the Canal VCU after the sale was over, where such access had not previously existed. Under Alternative 3, however, even walk- in access remains unchanged in the Canal VCU. I believe the opportunity to observe and monitor road use effects in Hoya before considering road construction into Canal clearly provides a better chance for adaptive management than Alternatives 1 or 2 and I preferred Alternative 3 for this reason. Alternatives 1 and 2 do provide more timber than Alternative 3, but Alternative 3 allows for significant timber harvest while better providing for other important resources in the area such as Anan.

I believe Alternative 3 responds to goals and objectives identified in the Forest Plan for the timber resource in this area better than Alternative 4 or 5. Alternative 3, while harvesting more timber than either Alternative 4 or 5, also provides for a greater degree of economical harvest in the future by developing a road system that can be used for both current and future timber harvest which will allow the use of more economical cable yarding systems. Though some comments disagree with considering or accounting roads as a long term asset, such roads do facilitate timber harvest, and logging from road systems can utilize machinery which is more readily available to the timber industry and which is cheaper to use. I concluded that the environmental consequences of Alternative 3 are reasonable as described above, and that Alternative 3 better achieves the purpose and need for the proposal than do either Alternative 4 or Alternative 5.

Use of Clearcuts

Some comments suggested more use of clearcuts and many suggested less. In coming to my final decision I did not consider clearcuts on an alternative wide basis either to select or not select this prescription. The clearcuts used in Canal Hoya are used in conjunction with cable logging systems. Most of this cable yarding is downhill to the road system serving as a landing. With downhill cable yarding it is not physically feasible to individually yard the logs through groups of standing trees. For this reason, yarding corridors are cut through the stands creating openings. Trees can be left standing between yarding corridors or near the tops of the unit where fewer logs need to "pass by" as they are yarded. All of the clearcuts employed on Canal Hoya will have trees left standing in the units in this fashion. The prescriptions detailed in the EIS and on the unit cards in Appendix A call for retention of 10% to as much as 30% of the original stand to be left in each unit. Because these trees will be generally grouped or clumped with openings between and since it is the intention of the prescription to initiate new growth, we feel it is appropriate to call these prescriptions clearcuts. They will allow for more economical yarding where the prescription is used, but will likely look much different than many observers’ image of a conventional clearcut.

The amount of retention that will be left in each unit will vary depending on the visual prescription, wildlife needs, or other site specific considerations of the given unit. The interdisciplinary team did not wish to change the name of this prescription so as to imply

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it would leave randomly distributed trees throughout a given unit. That is not possible for the downhill cable logging systems which will be employed. However, the type of "clearcut" used on Canal Hoya leaves significant numbers of trees within each unit, with the numbers of trees left varying to fit different situations.

Range of Alternatives and Alternative formulation

Some comments suggested that I craft alternatives based on maximization of clearcutting and road development. Other comments suggested that I craft specific alternatives to avoid clearcutting or roads or use of log transfer facilities. On initially considering the range of alternatives the interdisciplinary team looked at a "cable yarding only" alternative and a "helicopter only" alternative but did not fully develop these alternatives for reasons given in the EIS and later in this record of decision. Though I could have selected an option of one of the existing alternatives which would have been all cable or all helicopter as some have suggested, I did not choose to do so because, on analysis, such alternatives were not likely to fully meet the purpose and need of the project or such an approach would not meet forest plan standards and/or the intent of the National Forest Management Act. I concluded that such alternatives did not warrant development as stand alone alternatives for these reasons.

An "all helicopter" alternative was considered early in the analysis (FEIS, page 2-6), but was not developed at that time because the purpose and need volume was not possible under an "all helicopter" approach. That purpose and need statement was revised before the Draft EIS was issued. Even after the revision of the purpose and need statement, an "all helicopter" alternative cannot access a large portion of the project area that is available for timber harvest, due to the power transmission line that cuts across the project area from east to west. Even without the powerline, long term access to the southern portions of the timber base in the project area is not economically feasible due to the long flight distances that would make helicopter use prohibitive. Though it would be possible for me to modify an alternative like Alternative 4 to select an "all helicopter" option, such an action would leave the timber base area south of the powerline unavailable. In response to some comments to the Draft EIS, we have provided a somewhat amplified analysis of the "all helicopter" alternative in the FEIS for informational purposes. Though it seems prudent to consider such an "all helicopter" option in the Canal VCU (for the reasons I discussed above), our analysis does not indicate to me that such an approach is warranted in the Hoya VCU.

An alternative that maximizes the use of roads and clearcuts would be somewhat like the "cable yarding only" alternative, which was considered but not carried forward (FEIS, page 2-6). The "cable yarding only" alternative would have required roads to each unit. Due to the nature of the access and the terrain, the roads would nearly always be at the bottom of the units. Downhill cable yarding, due to its nature, (as discussed above) would have largely resulted in clearcut prescriptions with varying retention of trees within the units for visual, wildlife or other purposes. Just as an "all helicopter" alterna- tive has physical limitations in this area, so too does an alternative that only uses cable harvesting or clearcutting. Some areas would be very difficult, or environmentally risky to road in the Canal Hoya area, but they could be helicopter logged. Some areas would be quite adapted to use of a clearcut prescription that would be well within standards, but other areas cannot be logged with such a prescription and still meet Forest Plan standards.

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Clearcutting under the National Forest Management Act is to be considered on a unit by unit basis and is not to be used as a broad brush tool. Though clearcutting can be a rea- sonable tool, as can road building; I did not find that I could use these tools as the sole basis to develop an alternative.

I believe the range of alternatives that was developed is adequate to display trade-offs and to explore viable options that would achieve the purpose and need. It is not possible to develop an alternative for every contingency, but those which were developed provided me with clear and reasoned trade-offs to contrast and weigh against one another and from which to interpolate or extrapolate various options.

Additional rationale for my decision can be found in the individual responses to com- ments, in Appendix F of the FEIS. Though my decision will not likely please all who commented, their comments have helped make this a better decision. My decision to implement the Selected Alternative, as modified in this Record of Decision, is in con- formance with the Tongass Land Management Plan (1997) and sound National Forest management. In making my decision, I have balanced the need to help maintain a current timber supply in support of community stability, with the need to provide strong protec- tion measures for soil, water, fish, wildlife, subsistence, and visual resources.

Significant Issues

In making my decision, I considered five major issues identified during the planning process. In the following summary, I disclose how the Selected Alternative addresses each of the significant issues. Table S-l and Chapter 3 of the Final EIS supplement the following discussion and pro- vide a comparison of the alternatives.

Issue 1 : Timber Supply and Economics

The Selected Alternative converts 660 acres of old growth forest to young, even-aged or two- aged stands. Approximately 73 acres would be harvested in small 2-8 acre patches. Ap- proximately 284 acres would be partial cut with varying densities of reserve trees. Ap- proximately 303 acres would be clearcut with 10-30% of the units left uncut in reserves.

The Selected Alternative would provide approximately 14 MMBF of timber, which would con- tribute to the Forest Service’s attempt to seek to meet market demand while being consistent with the Tongass Land Management Plan and the standards and guidelines for all resources. Current timber market analysis indicates that the timber demand exceeds timber supply. Timber from this sale is needed as a component of the timber sale schedule to provide timber to industry in an even flow over the ten year planning cycle. The timber volume is also necessary as a substantial component of the timber sale program to be offered in 1998 on the Stikine Area to meet annual market demand. The mid-market analysis contained in the Final EIS resulted in a stumpage value of $2/MBF (excluding specified road costs) for the Selected Alternative. For a detailed analysis of the timber resource, see pages 3-2 through 3-13 in the Final EIS.

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Issue 2: Scenic and Tourism Values

Unit location and design were carefully considered in all alternatives to minimize visual impacts. The Selected Alternative meets or exceeds the required Visual Quality Objective (VQO) of Modification from all three viewpoints analyzed and will meet the desired condition for scenic values of Partial Retention from the Eastern Passage Travel Route in the Canal VCU. For a de- tailed analysis of the visual resource, see pages 3-14 through 3-33 of the Final EIS.

Changes to the scenery and impacts to Anan bears may have an effect on the income of guides and charter services that operate in the Bradfield Canal and at Anan. We disclosed the economic base that would be affected on pages 3-34 through 3-39 of the Final EIS, but were unable to de- termine an approximate value for expected gains or losses to that base as a result of the Canal Hoya Timber Sale. I do not expect, given the location and design of the sale that there will be a measurable effect in this regard.

Issue 3: Anan Bears

Mitigating effects to Anan bears was a major issue in the development of all alternatives and in my decision to select Alternative 3. The reasons for the decision given above supply my ratio- nale for addressing this issue. The Selected Alternative addresses the issue of vulnerability of Anan bears by not building a road in the Canal VCU for this entry. The selected alternative also harvests the smallest area (70 acres) in the Canal VCU. We will also provide protection of the Anan bears by closing the roads to motorized vehicles (except for administrative use). Two gates will be installed near the beginning of the roads and an administrative closure order will be written. The gates will be designed such that ATVs cannot go under them and they will be placed in locations that will be extremely difficult to get around. The first gate will be made of iron - not the usual perforated steel, so ATVs will not have the power to pull over or destroy the barricade. During harvest, the gates will be open, but only administrative use will be allowed. Following completion of the sale, only necessary administrative use, such as road maintenance, regeneration surveys, thinning and future harvests, will be allowed. Non-motorized travel will not be restricted.

There were several comments requesting hunting restrictions to protect bears, which will become more vulnerable if roads are constructed for this timber sale. We prefer to let the State manage hunting through their regulations and process, and it is our understanding that the Wrangell Fish and Game Advisory Committee is proposing that the State should close hunting in the Canal Hoya area during the life of the sale, if roads are constructed. We support that effort. If the State does not close hunting, the Forest Service will implement a Forest closure order on hunting within 1/2 mile of any roads constructed in the Canal Hoya Sale Area during the life of the sale (36 CFR 261.58(v)). By limiting such a closure to 1/2 mile from new road, we do not believe currently existing hunting opportunities will be greatly impacted. For a detailed analysis of the Anan bear issue, see pages 3-40 through 59 of the Final EIS.

Issue 4: Wildlife Habitat and Species Conservation

The selected alternative has the least effect of any of the action alternatives on wildlife habitat and species conservation in the Canal VCU. The selected alternative has more effect on wildlife habitat in the Hoya VCU than the other action alternatives. Some impacts to wildlife habitat will

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be mitigated by closing roads to motorized use, maintaining travel corridors and retaining trees in the harvest units to provide structural diversity and seed sources for forbs and shrubs. The rug- gedness and remoteness of the site lead us to believe that these mitigations are likely to be highly effective. Restrictions will be placed on helicopter activities, harvest activity near bear dens and no harvest will take place within 500 feet of the identified important brown bear foraging areas. For a detailed analysis of the wildlife habitat issue, see pages 3-60 through 3-85 of the Final EIS.

Issue 5: Freshwater and Marine Resources

The selected alternative has the least effect of the action alternatives on freshwater and marine resources in and near the Canal VCU. The selected alternative, as modified in this Record of Decision, has less effect on freshwater and marine resources in the Floya VCU than Alternatives 1 and 2, but more effects than Alternative 4, due to the number of stream crossings and miles of road. Impacts to freshwater and marine resources will be mitigated by using Best Management Practices (BMPs), storm-proofing and closing the roads to motorized use, requiring helicopter yarding to land landings or barges (no water drops), removing drainage structures and revegetat- ing temporary roads, and other mitigation measures. For a detailed analysis of the freshwater and marine resources issue, see pages 3-86 through 3-95 of the Final EIS.

Public Involvement

Ongoing public involvement has been instrumental in the identification and clarification of issues for this project. This has been helpful in the formulation of alternatives and has assisted me in making a more informed decision for the Canal Hoya project. Public meetings, Federal Register notices, newspaper and radio releases, open houses, the Stikine Area Project Schedule, and group and individual meetings were some of the tools used to solicit input for this project.

Notice of Intent: A notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement was pub- lished in the Federal Register on December 23, 1996, when it was decided that an EIS was needed for the project. Following field studies of existing resource conditions, a second Notice of Intent redefined the purpose and need for the project and reduced the estimated timber volume for the project from 20 million board feet (MMBF) to 10-17 MMBF in October 1997.

Public Comment received for the Draft EIS: Public comments to the Canal Hoya Timber Sale Draft EIS were received from January 16 to March 11, 1998. A total of 21 letters were received during the comment period and were formally responded to in the Final EIS (Appendix F).

Coordination With Other Agencies

From the time scoping was initiated, meetings and site visits with all interested State and Federal agencies have occurred. Issues were discussed and information was exchanged.

The Final EIS identifies the agencies that were informed of and/or involved in the planning pro- cess (see List of Agencies, Organizations, and Individuals to Whom Copies of this Statement Were Sent in Chapter 4).

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Alternatives Considered in Detail

Five alternatives were considered in detail in the Final EIS. Each action alternative is consistent with the Tongass Land Management Plan (1997). The analysis of each alternative displays (1) the areas considered for harvest, (2) the location of proposed roads for access, (3) the type of log- ging systems to be used, and (4) site locations of log transfer facilities to be used. For a com- plete description of these alternatives refer to Chapter 2 of the Final EIS. The alternatives are:

Alternative 1 - The theme of this alternative is to emphasize timber volume and harvest eco- nomics in the Hoya VCU and balance bear habitat security, visual concerns, water quality, and timber production in the Canal VCU. In the Hoya VCU, an LTF and roads would be con- structed to allow cable yarding in as many units as practical, while still meeting standards and guidelines and desired conditions for other resources. In the Canal VCU, resource concerns would be addressed by minimizing road construction and retaining higher percentages of trees than are retained in units in the Hoya VCU.

Alternative 2 - The theme of this alternative is to emphasize timber volume, infrastructure development and long-term harvest economics throughout the Project Area. This alternative requires the most road construction, to reach most of the areas accessible by cable yarding systems.

Alternative 3 -The theme of this alternative is to emphasize Anan bear habitat security, water quality, and visual concerns in the Canal VCU and to emphasize timber volume and harvest economics in the Hoya VCU. This alternative is similar to Alternative 2 in the Hoya VCU, since roads and most harvest units would be the same. No roads would be constructed in the Canal VCU. Helicopters would be used to yard timber north of the powerline in the Canal VCU.

Alternative 4 - The theme of this alternative is to emphasize wildlife habitat and security, visual objectives, and water quality. The theme would be met by minimizing road construction and em- phasizing the use of partial harvest methods in units that are visible from the water or are in high value wildlife habitat. Due to the heavy harvest proposed in the seen area, retention within units is generally higher than that proposed in other alternatives, in order to reduce visual impacts.

Alternative 5 - This Alternative does not propose any timber harvest or road construction (no action) in the Canal Hoya area. Management of the Canal Hoya area would continue as it cur- rently exists.

Environmentally Preferred Alternative

Based on a comparison of the alternatives and the discussion contained within Chapter 3 of the Final EIS, Alternative 5, the No Action Alternative, would cause the least environmental distur- bance and is therefore the environmentally preferred alternative of all the alternatives studied in detail. Of the action alternatives, Alternative 4, implemented without road construction, is the environmentally preferred alternative. This modification of Alternative 4 would avoid environ- mental impacts associated with road construction and use and would minimize impacts to wild- life habitat.

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Canal Hoya Timber Sale Record of Decision

Record of Decision

Alternatives Not Considered in Detail

Lower Hoya Reserve Alternative - We considered an alternative that would move the location of the small old growth reserve in the Hoya VCU to the coastline. The theme of this alternative would be to emphasize bear habitat security in the Canal VCU and to increase the volume available for harvest in the Hoya VCU by putting the old growth reserve in a location where much of the acreage would already be retained due to beach, estuary and riparian buffers. Accessing the timber that would be available in upper Hoya drainage would require constructing a road beyond a narrow valley pinchpoint. Reasons for not considering this alternative in detail included:

Poor economics - The narrow valley pinchpoint along Hoya Creek would make it difficult and expensive to construct a road beyond the point. Getting around the pinchpoint would require two 80 foot bridges (about $130,000 each) and several major drainage structures.

Fish and Water Quality Risks - The double bridge site would impact the floodplain and side channels at the location of some of the highest value resident fish habitat in Hoya Creek. There is a risk of flood constriction and subsequent up and downstream channel erosion at this narrow site.

Steep slopes - Much of the timber available above the pinchpoint is located on terrain steeper than is recommended under Forest Plan guidelines.

Upper Canal Reserve Option - We considered including an option to move the old growth reserve in the Canal VCU to a location south of