I would like to address where the Salmon‐Challis National Forest is with the Species of Conservation Concern process in Forest Plan Revision and ensure accurate information is available to the public. I have not made my recommendations to the regional forester yet for her decision on any species of conservation concern.
I reference the “Salmon‐Challis Process for Identifying Potential Species of Conservation Concern” — fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd579061.pdf — regarding where we are in the process to this point in time. A coarse filter was used to identify species to review as potential species of conservation concern for the Salmon‐Challis. Existing databases were searched for occurrence records on the forest and native species with the following ranks within existing conservation assessments identified for more detailed review:
- NatureServe: global ranks G or T 1, 2, or 3
- NatureServe: state rank S 1 or 2
- 2016 Idaho Bureau of Land Management Plant and Animal Special Status Species for Salmon and upper Snake field offices: Type 2
- Intermountain Region Regional Foresters Sensitive Species on the Salmon‐Challis
- Species the Idaho Department of Fish and Game recommended be reviewed — hoary marmot
- Species the public recommended we review — Rocky Mountain tailed frog and American pika
- Fish and wildlife species only: 2015 Idaho State Wildlife Action Plan: Species of Greatest Conservation Need Tier 1 or 2.
- Birds only: 2016 Partners in Flight Watch List for continental United States and Canada: Recover and Reverse Declines watch lists
This coarse filter identified 76 plant, 61 terrestrial animal and 16 aquatic animal species. A species must be established on the forest to be considered as a potential species of conservation concern. Therefore, occurrence records along with other evidence were reviewed to determine which species were only transient or accidental on the forest. A total of 21 plants, 13 terrestrial animals and 3 aquatic animals were dropped from further consideration through this process. The remaining species were reviewed in detail using the Methods and Guidance for Assessing Evidence to Classify Species as Potential Species of Conservation Concern —USFS 2017. These detailed assessments resulted in preliminary recommendations for 55 plants, 20 terrestrial animals and 8 aquatic animals as potential species of conservation concern for the Salmon‐Challis.
I gathered feedback on this preliminary list through a formal comment period, and I’m evaluating such feedback with the revision team, regional office specialists and groups such as the Idaho Department of Fish & Game. After considering this feedback, I will decide whether to recommend species to the regional forester to be species of conservation concern on this forest.
The Species of Conservation Concern evaluation is a concurrent process with the development of the land management plan. I will decide what my recommendations for species of conservation concern will be and forward such recommendations to the regional forester for her decision. Species of conservation concern must be identified early enough in the planning process to advance the planning process forward and further evaluate the identified species. Before I provide my recommendations to the regional forester, I will engage the public to explain my rationale for identifying such species or not.
After the regional forester has identified species of conservation concern, new scientific information may indicate species should be added or removed from the list. This reconsideration of identified species may occur at any time during the planning process. I have maintained from the start of Forest Plan Revision that the process is iterative, and we will adjust and consider new information during environmental analysis of the proposed land management plan.