MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

FOR MANAGEMENT UNDER THE NORTHWEST FOREST PLAN

AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL

I. PARTIES

This is an understanding among the following parties:

USDI, Bureau of Indian Affairs
USDI, Bureau of Land Management
US Environmental Protection Agency
USEPA, Western Ecology Division
USDA, Forest Service
USDA, Forest Service, Research

USDOC, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
USDI, National Park Service
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service
US Army Corps of Engineers
USDI, Fish and Wildlife Service
USDI, Geological Survey

II. BACKGROUND

In 1993, a comprehensive Northwest Forest Plan was initiated to end the impasse over management of Federal forest land in the Pacific Northwest within the range of the northern spotted owl. With the signing of the Northwest Forest Plan Record of Decision in 1994, a framework and a system of Standards and Guidelines were established, using a new ecosystem approach to address resource management. By taking an innovative approach based on ecosystem and watershed management, while also addressing economic and social impacts, the Northwest Forest Plan transcends traditional administrative boundaries. Successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan has required and continues to require unprecedented cooperation, coordination, and collaboration, among the participating Federal agencies and with States, Tribes, and local governments. This collaboration must continue.

III. PURPOSE

The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to establish and maintain an interagency framework to achieve two distinct goals. The first goal is cooperative planning, improved decision-making, and coordinated implementation of the forest ecosystem management component of the Northwest Forest Plan on Federal lands within the range of the northern spotted owl. The second goal is improved coordination and collaboration with State, Tribal, and local governments as they seek to implement management approaches that support or complement the goals of the Northwest Forest Plan. Fulfillment of both of these goals is integral to an ecosystem management approach that is scientifically sound, ecologically credible, and legally responsible.

Signatories to this Memorandum of Understanding agree to:

Continue to refine and implement a cohesive vision and shared sense of mission for the management of Federal forest lands that balances multiple objectives, including the restoration and conservation of forest ecosystems and the production of sustainable economic and social benefits from the forests;
Improve their ability to monitor and evaluate their progress toward established goals, and to adapt to change, as appropriate, in a cohesive manner;
Cultivate greater trust, coordination, and collaboration among Federal agencies, within individual agencies, and with State, Tribal, and local governments;
Integrate the best scientific information available from research and monitoring into adaptive management decisions;
Continue work toward building a seamless, current, and accessible information network to support ecosystem management on federal lands;
Share information, technology, and expertise, and pool resources, in order to make and implement better-informed decisions related to ecosystem and adaptive management across jurisdictional boundaries;
Improve integrated application of agency budgets to maximize efficient use of funds toward the Northwest Forest Plan effort;
Coordinate Northwest Forest Plan activities with related or complementary efforts of State, Tribal, and local governments;
Coordinate the ecosystem management aspects of Northwest Forest Plan implementation with related or complementary socio-economic opportunities at appropriate scales including the community level.

IV. STRUCTURE

The following interagency groups will continue to develop, monitor, and oversee the implementation of comprehensive forest management strategy for Federal forests within the range of the northern spotted owl. They will support the development, implementation, and periodic adjustment of land and resource management plans of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. This agreement does not substitute for or alter the line authority of individual agencies.

It is the intent of this Memorandum of Understanding to describe the functions of only the primary coordination structures, with the understanding that the Federal agencies may establish additional coordination mechanisms, and modify existing ones, as needed.

This Memorandum of Understanding is intended to enable and encourage the signatory agencies to be creative and to consider a full range of approaches to achieve intergovernmental cooperation and collaboration in support of the Northwest Forest Plan.

A. Regional Interagency Executive Committee: The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will serve as the senior regional entity to ensure the prompt, coordinated, and successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan at the regional level, including ecosystem-scale monitoring and adaptive management.

The Regional Interagency Executive Committee may alter its membership if it so chooses, and in appropriate situations, it will consult with other Federal agencies, and State, Tribal, and local governments.

The chair of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee will alternate between the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management representatives.

The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will seek advice from the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, constituted under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, regarding implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan on Federal land, and will coordinate with the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee for better integration of forest ecosystem management activities among Federal and non-Federal governmental entities across jurisdictional boundaries.

The Regional Interagency Executive Committee may, at its discretion, refer issues to the Interagency Steering Committee for coordination or resolution.

The Regional Interagency Executive Committee may conduct periodic reviews of interagency groups and structures and implement appropriate changes.

B. Intergovernmental Advisory Committee: The role of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee is to advise the Regional Interagency Executive Committee regarding implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan on Federal lands and to provide a forum for better integration of forest ecosystem management activities among Federal and non-Federal governmental entities across jurisdictional boundaries.

The Intergovernmental Advisory Committee Chair and members of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee will be as described in the charter for the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

The Intergovernmental Advisory Committee may establish such working groups or subcommittees as it may find necessary. These working groups or subcommittees may include, consistent with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, representatives of non-governmental organizations that have an interest in the implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan.

The Regional Interagency Executive Committee will periodically review and evaluate the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee role and charter and make recommendations on re-chartering to the Secretary of Agriculture under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

C. Regional Ecosystem Office: The Regional Ecosystem Office serves as a staff office for, and acts under the direction of, the regional executives acting as a collective body through the Regional Interagency Executive Committee.

In support of implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan, and pursuant to an annual work plan developed in conjunction with the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, the Regional Ecosystem Office will:

Be responsible for developing, evaluating, and recommending resolution of consistency and implementation issues assigned by the Regional Interagency Executive Committee;
Facilitate coordination among, and/or provide support to, various interagency work groups such as those involving late-successional reserve management, survey and manage, geographic information systems and monitoring;
Facilitate periodic evaluation by the Regional Interagency Executive Committee of the interagency structure described in this section, and recommend modifications to the Regional Interagency Executive Committee as needed to improve interagency coordination and collaboration, adapt interagency structures to changing needs, and reflect progress in Northwest Forest Plan implementation;
Facilitate staff support to the operations of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee and the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee;
Provide, at the direction of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, information sharing and support for activities at the province level.

D. Research and Monitoring Group: The Research and Monitoring Group represents the Research Executives in presenting an independent science perspective in intergovernmental forums. The Research and Monitoring Group facilitates intergovernmental activities to accomplish the following goals:

Scientific research on fundamental questions underlying basic assumptions of the Northwest Forest Plan;
Development of research and monitoring plans;
Communication of scientific findings, technical transfer, and opportunities to facilitate adaptive management;
Independent scientific review, evaluation, and analysis.

The Research and Monitoring Group is comprised of scientists, or designated representatives as assigned by Research Agency Executives, to represent the research agencies. The scientists and representatives will convene meetings, work groups, standing or ad hoc committees, etc., to carry out assignments on an as-needed basis. The Group is responsible to the Research Executives for science findings, interpretations, recommendations, and advice. The Group also works with members of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee to facilitate the integration and interface between science and management. In those situations, the Group continues to be responsible to the Research Executives but coordinates with the Regional Interagency Executive Committee through the Regional Ecosystem Office.

E. Interorganizational Resource Information Coordinating Committee: The Interorganizational Resource Information Coordinating Committee, a subcommittee of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, will be used to provide advice and assistance to the agencies in developing a seamless and accessible information network to support ecosystem management. The Interorganizational Resource Information Coordinating Committee will be used to help identify key data sets and standards; and make recommendations to the agencies on data management priorities, applications, data maintenance protocols and stewardship of regional data.

 

F. Province-Level Organizations: The Provincial Interagency Executive Committees will serve as the senior provincial entities to ensure the prompt, coordinated, and successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan at the province level.

  1. Provincial Interagency Executive Committees: Provincial Interagency Executive Committees will be established for the provinces to support the successful implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan at the province level, under the general direction of the Regional Interagency Executive Committee. Each Provincial Interagency Executive Committee may, under guidance from the Regional Interagency Executive Committee, undertake specific activities within its province, including but not limited to:
  2. Coordinating landscape analyses to assess the health and condition of watersheds and to consider socio-economic conditions in local communities;

    Sharing information to support better decisions regarding the health of the ecosystem, including watersheds and local communities;

    Identifying mutual goals, objectives, and priorities to support coordinated watershed restoration and conservation strategies;

    Sharing technology and expertise within the province;

    Coordinating and conducting monitoring within the province;

    Encouraging complementary ecosystem management among Federal and non-Federal landowners;

    Coordinating ecosystem management activities in concert with Federal, State, Tribal, and local programs for economic, labor, and community assistance.

  3. Provincial Advisory Committees: The role of the Provincial Advisory Committees is to advise the Provincial Interagency Executive Committees regarding implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan on Federal lands and to provide a forum for better integration of forest ecosystem management activities across jurisdictional boundaries at the province level.

Membership will include representatives of Federal, State, local and Tribal governments, and a variety of other interests as described in the Provincial Advisory Committee Charter. Provincial Advisory Committees shall make recommendations to Federal agencies through the Provincial Interagency Executive Committees regarding RIEC coordination and implementation of ecosystem strategies pursuant to the Northwest Forest Plan. They shall also participate, where appropriate, in collaborative planning at the province level across Federal and non-Federal boundaries. In appropriate cases, Provincial Interagency Executive Committees may find it desirable to use mechanisms other than, or in addition to, Provincial Advisory Committees in order to obtain advice from non-Federal entities.

The Provincial Advisory Committees' role and charter will be periodically reviewed and evaluated in coordination with the Provincial Interagency Executive Committees. Recommendations for re-chartering the committees will be made to the Secretary of Agriculture under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

 

Image of the signatures - sorry for the poor quality (scanner down); will be replacing later in week