Responding to Governor Inslee’s request, Chief Tidwell determined that each of the treatment areas within the boundary of the Okanogan-Wenatchee, Colville, Umatilla, and Gifford Pinchot National Forests be designated under Section 602 of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) of 2003 and Section 8204 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, i.e. Farm Bill (see attached map).
“We look forward to working with Governor Inslee and existing collaborators to further evaluate these landscape areas for potential treatment opportunities to address insect and disease areas, and improve forest health and resiliency,” said, Jim Peña, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester.
The requested treatment areas meet one or more of the following criteria in Section 602:
- The area is experiencing decline of forest health based on annual forest health surveys;
- The area is at risk of substantial tree mortality over the next 15 years based on the National Insect and Disease Risk Map; or
- The area is one in which hazard trees pose imminent risk to public infrastructure, health or safety.
Based on this determination, Chief Tidwell designated each of the areas, excluding Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, as a landscape-scale insect and disease area under Section 602(d). The difference between the Governor’s request (i.e. 719,150 acres) and the approved designated areas (i.e. 711,457 acres) is from adjusting to National Forest System Proclaimed Land areas and removing non-Forest Service land inholdings. In addition, any Inventoried Roadless Areas that were included in the initial request were removed based on the concerns and considerations raised by collaborators identified in the initial request last fall.
Within the designated areas, the Farm Bill provides the authority to use the expedited National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures provided for in Section 104 of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) for an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement or the use of the new Categorical Exclusion.