Prepared by: TOM RATCLIFF
Reviewed by: Marty Yamagiwa
Recommended: Diane K. Henderson
This Biological Assessment (BA) evaluates the effects of proposed grazing management practices on a group of allotments on the Modoc National Forest. (See Map 1 submitted with 1995 BA for project area.) This assessment is prepared in accordance with requirements set forth under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (19 USC 1536 (c)) and follows standards established in Forest Service Manual (FSM) 2672.42.
The proposed actions entail development of current Allotment Management Plans (AMPs) for each allotment or group of allotments, including a series of grazing system changes, structural and non-structural range improvements, and incorporation of standards and guidelines from the Modoc National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, 1991 (LRMP). Additional resource work has been identified including treatment of juniper to increase understory browse and forage, restoration of riparian vegetation, several water developments, and underburning to reduce forest fuels.
Specifically this BA addresses grazing and other management effects on Threatened and Endangered species including northern spotted owl, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Modoc, Lost River and shortnose suckers. No other Federally listed threatened or endangered species / habitats occur in the analysis area.
Maps of each of the specific allotments can be found in Appendix 2, submitted with the 1995 BA. Each of the maps displays pastures, developments, exclosures, streams and reservoirs. Appendix 3 (1995 BA) shows Rosgen channel types (Rosgen 1985) that are not displayed on allotments maps.
On September 25, 1995, the Forest received a final Biological Opinion (1995 BO-#1-ERO-95-F-007) on grazing operations for 1995 within the habitat addressed here. The 1995 BO is hereby included in this BA by reference. The Forest had submitted a BA and supporting information to the US Fish and Wildlife Service earlier in 1995. That BA and supporting information is hereby incorporated into this document by reference. Monitoring of 1995 management requirements and constraints and reasonable and prudent measures was conducted and is summarized in 1995 Grazing Monitoring Report, submitted to FWS's Sacramento Field Office (SFO) and Klamath Falls Field Office (KFFO) initially in December, 1995. A number of color photos have been reproduced and are included to document monitoring at "key areas" on several allotments. Additionally, photos are submitted here to document the visual appearance of various levels of streambank alteration, and to document change through time of various channel reaches.
FWS-SFO rendered a BO (1-1-94-F-57) on salvage timber harvest operations within the range of Modoc suckers in September, 1994, and several of these grazing operations occur in approximately that same area of habitat (1994 BO).
The FWS and Modoc NF have been in informal consultation regarding grazing operations since early 1994. Most of the riparian habitat within these allotments is currently designated as "Proposed Critical Habitat" for Lost River and shortnose suckers, or has been previously designated as critical habitat for Modoc suckers. (See Map 2 from 1995 BA)
On January 18, 1996, SFO provided a list of "listed and proposed endangered and threatened species and candidate species that may occur in the area of the Modoc National Forest". That list was reviewed for this proposed action, along with several previous lists provided to the Forest for other projects.
Northern spotted owl was included in the list provided by FWS, but the project area is outside the range of the species as published in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Management of Habitat for Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forest Related Species Within the Range of the Northern Spotted Owl, and outside the range of the owl as published by the FWS. There is no suitable habitat in the project area. This project has NO EFFECT upon northern spotted owl, thus this species will not be further discussed.
Peregrine falcons do not nest in the project area, but an occasional migrating bird may forage or pass through. There is no suitable nesting habitat within the project area. This project has NO EFFECT upon peregrine falcon, thus this species will not be further discussed.
Bald eagle was included on the list and several known nesting sites occur within the project area. These sites have been regularly occupied and productive for the past several years. Two new sites were discovered within the project area in the 1995 field season. These birds are known to forage upon fish, waterfowl, rodents and carrion. Improving riparian condition will have NO EFFECT upon bald eagles in the project area, thus this species will not be discussed further.
One proposed species, slender Orcutt grass, and several candidate species were included on the list. Orcutt grass is not known to occur on the project area. Any additional candidate species known to occur in the project area are also USFS sensitive species and will be addressed in a separate Biological Evaluation (BE) to accompany this project.
On several occasions during the 1994 grazing season, Kevin Stubbs of the SFO was able to visit many of these allotments. On those visits, grazing strategies, inventory methods and site specific issues were discussed. Many helpful suggestions were offered and incorporated into this analysis and into the ongoing AMP process. Kristi Young from the SFO visited several Modoc sucker stream reaches in the 1995 field season and offered perspectives on grazing issues, habitat conditions and fisheries concerns. Doug Young of the RFFO visited several allotments occupied by Lost River and shortnose suckers during the 1995 field season offering advice, expressing concerns and getting familiar with habitat conditions on the ground. In February 1996, Barb Masinton was able to view the Clear Lake watershed from the air, looking at runoff conditions following a rain-on-snow event and getting familiar with the distribution of Lost River and shortnose suckers.
Several other individuals and agencies have been consulted during the preparation of this document including: Mark Buettner, Bureau of Reclamation Fisheries Biologist and Lost River and shortnose sucker species authority; Jane Olson, Fisheries Biologist, Fremont National Forest; Gary Scoppetone, National Biological Service and species authority on the above fish and David Vogel, Vogel Environmental Services, fisheries biologist whose crews did extensive field review in the project area in 1993.
The Forest authorizes ongoing grazing operations in watersheds containing listed fish; the Forest is in the process of reissuing permits to continue grazing for the next several years, and all such reissued permits will contain standards and guidelines from the Forest's LRMP. Within 5 years all reissued permits will have an updated AMP which requires an EA of allotment-specific issues and concerns. Since all allotments plans will be updated to contain forest-wide standards and guidelines, this analysis is primarily to insure that application of those standards and guidelines will remove any adverse effects upon listed species, especially listed suckers.
Administration of grazing on the Forest has focused on four primary issues for the past 3-5 years: 1. Herbaceous forage utilization measurements; 2. Woody vegetation utilization measurements; 3. Stubble height of vegetative material immediately following grazing. 4. Streambank alteration measurements. Other factors such as season of use, actual use, on / off dates, range readiness, and seral condition of habitat are considered as well. However, control of factors 1-4 has proven to be very effective at implementing progress toward improved conditions. Table T Summary from the LRMP (T1--T10) describes desired future condition of various Rosgen channel types found in watersheds containing these fish.
Service and Forest staffs agree that not all grazed watersheds containing the listed suckers are in fully functional condition, and that recovery of these watersheds will be slowed, compared to ungrazed recovery rates, because continued grazing retards recovery. It is the desire of our staffs to have this consultation apply to proposed operations for 1996 and outyear operations that conform to practices consistent with LRMP standards and guidelines and terms and conditions of a resultant Biological Opinion.
Table T Summary - Standards for Grazing Systems by Existing Seral Condition - Not available in KRIS due to formatting problems.
In July 1990 USFS Chief Robertson issued a memo instructing all Forests to incorporate standards and guidelines from LRMPs into range permits. In the LRMP (1991), an agreement was made NOT to incorporate grazing standards and guidelines until such time as a site specific analysis was completed on each allotment.
The LRMP contains standards and guidelines to be site-specifically incorporated into project design and implementation. Specific to this assessment, Prescription 17, Riparian Area Management (pg. 4-135, Appendix A) will address most of the species and habitat needs. Additional standards and guidelines will be applied as conditions arise on the ground and will be discussed in this document. The LRMP describes the allotments within the project area as high priority allotments for assessment due to presence of endangered fish and existing watershed condition.
Objectives of the proposed action, found in the LRMP, are summarized as follows:
A) Manage grazing to protect riparian dependent resources (LRMP 4-138).
B) Manage grazing to enable riparian associated shrubs to reach at least 50% of the natural site potential (LRMP 4-138)
C) Permit grazing in balance with forage capacity (LRMP 4-1).
D) Improve ecological condition by managing livestock distribution through structural improvements such as fences and watering areas. (LRMP 4-11).
E) Lands allocated to livestock grazing allocated to qualified livestock operators (LRMP-4-19).
F) Manage all riparian areas in a manner so that 80% of streambanks are stable with less than 20' alteration due to livestock trampling. (LRMP Appendix T-4).
G) Maintain and improve habitat for Lost River and shortnose sucker. (LRMP 4-4)
H) Manage riparian areas to optimize fish habitat or populations. (LRMP 4-4)
Interdisciplinary teams (IDTs) are developing grazing strategies that will achieve the above and other objectives from the LRMP. Any selected alternative must comply with the Riparian Prescription in the LRMP.
The Forest recognized that continuing grazing practices in use in 1994 was not an acceptable practice, due to watershed condition and impacts to species habitat. During the grazing seasons of 1994 and 1995, interim standards and guidelines for grazing (USFS internal memo 1/20/94) are used prior to completion of updated AMPs which is an on-going process. Interim standards were developed in discussions with permittees, and informal discussions with SFO and KFFO personnel. Summarized, those interim standards and guidelines are:
Fences maintained to standards prior to turnout.
Maximum allowable utilization of total herbaceous forage species within key areas of 50' by weight.
Maximum allowable utilization of woody species of 40' of current year's growth (total use by livestock and wildlife).
Livestock will be moved into the next pasture or home when the maximum allowable utilization of either herbaceous or woody vegetation has been reached.
Salt will be used as a management tool to promote greater distribution of livestock. Salt will be placed at least 1/4 mile from water.
Riding is an appropriate management strategy to increase distribution.
Ninety five percent of all livestock must be off the allotment by the off date with the remainder off within one week.
Failure to comply with any of the above will result in appropriate permit action.
In the 1995 grazing season an additional requirement of no more than 20% streambank alteration by livestock was added.
1. Herbaceous forage utilization is measured by occular estimate method. Grazed and ungrazed plots are compared to measure use of preferred forage. Utilization is measured at "key areas" designated on the ground with permittees. Key areas are selected for their representation of the issue being measured, most often, riparian area condition and trend. Key areas sometimes are designated in uplands, as well. Upland vegetation utilization is generally 50% of annual production, but may be lees. For example, some permits have early on-dates (April 16), thus less utilization is allowed there due to susceptibility of plants to damage with early overuse. Riparian herbaceous use ranges from no use (in rested or excluded pastures) to about 50' of annual production on medium priority streams for pastures with early-season use and regrowth. Since all streams in this assessment have listed fish. we are proposing to graze at 25%-50% maximum allowable use on riparian herbage. The critical functions of riparian herbage left on-site in riparian areas are: to provide protection from peak streamflows; provide nutrient cycling to the sites; provide a filtration mechanism for sediments moving in the system; and maintain productivity of the riparian plants being grazed.
2. Woody vegetation utilization is most often measured by the grazed plant method. Woody plants,(willows in the riparian area or bitterbrush in the uplands) for example, are selected and several grazed and ungrazed twigs are compared. The normal standard use allowed by livestock is 20t of annual production by livestock. The function of this standard is to leave residual material for wildlife use, ensure proper growth and development of woody plants, provide adequate growth for seed-set and reproduction, and to encourage the growth and development of stable woody plant communities.
3. Stubble height is measured along the stream edge by simply recording the height of stubble at each 1 foot station along a 100' tape stretched immediately adjacent to the water column. The measurement is repeated immediately across the stream and the average stubble height determined and recorded.
4. Bank stability is measured by looking at streambank alteration. 20% streambank alteration is the maximum allowed by LRMP standard, but individual Interdisciplinary Teams (IDTs) set lower standards based on streambank conditions, plant community needs and Rosgen channel types (Some Rosgen types are more susceptible to grazing impacts than others). It is important to note that some streambank erosion is natural and ongoing, thus it is important to measure alteration that is livestock induced compared to total streambank alteration. Overton, et. al.(1995) found that Rosgen C-type channels with a variety of substrate in the Salmon River Basin in Idaho had about 85% natural stability, for example. Within the past 3 years, we have learned that occular measurement of stream bank alteration usually over-estimates actual measured alteration. To insure consistency, we use measured transects until we are better calibrated to actual altered bank estimation. Personnel walk a streambank reach and select a representative 100' reach within a key area. A tape is stretched along the bank and alteration is recorded along the tape by 1 foot increments. The process is replicated across the stream to get the far bank and the results are averaged and recorded. A series of photos graphically demonstrating various levels of measured streambank alteration is enclosed. These photos were all shot in 1993 using Rosgen B-3 channels as the reference. The reader can readily see what happens as streambank alteration continues over time: channels widen, the water column becomes shallow, stream meander disappears, and one can see that with flushing flows, much sediment is readily displaced and moved downstream.
A report of results from the 1995 monitoring efforts on the affected allotments was submitted to the Service (SFO and KFFO) in December, 1995.
It is important to realize that reaching any one of the above three limits is cause to remove livestock from the pasture or allotment in question. That is to say, if herbaceous utilization is at 20t, but willow use is at 20t, it is time to move livestock. This case occurs often late in the season. We have also found in the past 3-5 years that there is a very pronounced trend for the above 3 measurements to begin to converge at their upper limits. Rarely do we find the case where herbaceous forage utilization is at the upper limit when bank alteration is not approaching the limit. An exception is in early use pastures, where streambanks are very wet and livestock prefer not to spend much time in the creek bottoms.
The proposed action is to develop a series of AMPs to direct and guide grazing activities on the project area for the next several years. Many of the AMPs in current use are outdated and do not comply with the LRMP. In some other instances, it is clear that the AMP in use does not provide adequate protection for fully functional habitat for listed species. Several changes to historic grazing patterns are already in place due to the recognized need to improve resource conditions and in order to comply with interim standards above. Further, within the past 2-3 years, new information has been developed on the presence of endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers within allotments that were not previously known to be occupied. There is a need to assess management activities in the project area to get a "landscape look" at ecosystem conditions. An alternative exists to look at each area separately, but the larger picture makes more sense since all these allotments are within occupied listed species habitat and all allotments share common issues and concerns.
All allotments will be guided by LRMP standards and guidelines and terms and conditions will be directly excerpted from the BO issued for this action by the Service. Based on our experience with the 1995 BO, we expect to be able to monitor and report to FWS on compliance, improving conditions and problems / corrective actions as needed.
The location of the proposed action affecting Lost River and shortnose suckers is about 30 miles south and east of Tulelake, California, and about 30 miles north and west of Alturas, California, all in Modoc County. About 500,000 acres are included in these allotments, which range from about 4100 to 5800 feet in elevation. Dominant vegetation includes western juniper/sagebrush grasslands with ponderosa pine at higher elevations. Boles, Willow and Fletcher Creeks traverse some allotments and drain most of the area to Clear Lake. Other significant tributaries include North Fork Willow Creek, Fletcher Creek, Rock Creek and Lost River, downstream below Clear Lake. (see Map 1, 1995 BA).
The Clear Lake watershed is contained primarily on the Forest. Some headwater reaches extend into Oregon on the Fremont NF and Klamath Falls Resource Area or Lakeview District, USDI, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Clear Lake drains to Lost River which in turn drains to Tule Lake through a series of dams and irrigation structures managed by the USDI, Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). Clear Lake is a natural lake, with it's lake level raised by a dam in the late 1930's to evaporate runoff so the reclamation process in the Tulelake valley could be accelerated. There is no possible upstream fish passage from Lost River over the dam at Clear Lake, and fish in the Lost River have minimal spawning opportunities (Buettner, personal communication). On the other hand, high flows may flush fish over the dam into Lost River, downstream from Clear Lake.
The location of projects affecting Modoc suckers is about 25 to 50 miles west of Alturas, and includes the majority of the Turner Creek watershed including Washington, Coffee Mill and Hulbert Creeks; Johnson Creek and Dutch Flat Creek drainages. Vegetation here is mostly pine forest with stringer meadows and occasional incised canyon country, (i.e. Turner Creek on the Happy Camp allotment). Studinski (1994) summarized approximately 20 years of experience and knowledge regarding Modoc suckers.
1. Various range / wildlife / fisheries enhancement activities have been included and will be included in ongoing EA work for grazing allotments. Some of those activities are discussed here as we expect to have such activities included in most allotment updates.
a. FENCING: Fencing is required for livestock distribution control. Often we find it necessary to fence a riparian pasture to insure it's recovery. We have fenced spring sources to protect them. We are dividing many of our permits into pastures; historically these permits were season-long, continuous-use situations with no cross-fencing. This situation does not allow control of livestock in critical periods, especially late in the grazing season when livestock tend to concentrate near available water supplies. We have found that season-long, continuous use is not compatible with making the necessary environmental improvements we must make in these allotments, thus creation of pastures through fencing is necessary. Riding is often ineffective as livestock control, therefore fencing is often the best solution. All fences are built and maintained to USFS standard; permittees are required to complete fence maintenance prior to livestock turnout. About 90% of occupied Modoc sucker habitat is excluded from livestock grazing by fencing. BY AGREEMENT WITH THE SERVICE IN THE 1995 B.O. CONSTRUCTION OF FENCES IS A NO EFFECT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE and will not be further discussed or consulted upon.
b. WATER DEVELOPMENTS: Well distributed water supplies are critical in maintaining livestock distribution, especially away from riparian habitats which are recovering from unstable condition. Water developments are currently one of several types: 1) an earthen tank or pond where roadside drainage is collected; 2) earthen tank in an ephemeral drainage; 3) earthen tank in a low-lying basin; 4) spring development where water is piped into a tank for livestock / wildlife use to preclude trampling damage at the spring site; 5) well drilled off the riparian site where water is pumped by solar or wind and stored in tanks; 6) water trough where stream water is pumped for livestock / wildlife use: 7) guzzler where rain / snow fall is caught on collector and stored for wildlife use. BY AGREEMENT WITH THE SERVICE IN THE 1995 B.O. WATER DEVELOPMENTS NOT INVOLVING PUMPING OF WATER FROM OCCUPIED HABITAT OR NOT WITHIN DRAINAGES CONNECTED TO OCCUPIED HABITAT ARE NO EFFECT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES and will not be further discussed or consulted upon. We agree to CONSULT FURTHER in cases involving the two exceptions mentioned immediately above ON A CASE-BY-CASE basis.
c. VEGETATIVE TREATMENTS: Objectives of vegetative treatment will normally be to restore variety and diversity into stands that have become overstocked with woody vegetation, ie juniper stands and white fir stands that have shaded or crowded out the understory of grasses, fortes and browse preferred by wildlife and livestock. Although several areas on the forest have been type-converted (brush to grass), we see few situations where this practice applies today. We will be manipulating vegetation by burning and by treatment of encroaching woody stands. Prescribed fire has much promise on the Forest when accompanied by appropriate rest, for restoring native forage. Evidence occurs to suggest that dense stands of juniper and white fir have developed as a result of fire suppression activities. Treatment of stands by prescribed fire or other method (firewood harvest, chipping for biomass, removal for posts or poles, etc.) will be accomplished as specified in the Modoc LRMP, 4-13 - 4-146.
PER AGREEMENT IN THE 1995 B.O. VEGETATIVE TREATMENTS ARE NO EFFECT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES AND WILL NOT BE CONSULTED UPON FURTHER.
d. CHANNEL RESTORATION ACTIVITIES: Degraded channels have been treated on the forest by a variety of methods, including juniper revetment, cross-log step pool construction, boulder placement, dam construction, willow planting and application of rest from grazing. Based on experience with these methods, application of rest, boulder placement and willow planting by single stems and bioengineering with bundles are most efficient and cost effective. Some site specific needs will occur where a structure will be needed. Those site specific instances will need consultation where water diversion or alteration of a fish-bearing stream is an issue. An example here would be proposed structures at Willow Creek Ranch, which are designed to provide refugia pools and fish passage to upstream spawning areas.
Based on examples on the forest in the past 15 years, rest, either total exclusion, or significant periods of rest on an annual basis, is the most efficient, cost effective method of restoring channel form and function. Case examples include Mowitz Creek on Doublehead RD, Washington Creek on Devil's Garden RD and Johnson Creek on Big Valley RD. Photo points, vegetative surveys and channel cross sections all indicate marked recovery in excluded stream sections. Data are on file in district and supervisors offices along with an array of photos taken over a period of 5-10 years.
PER AGREEMENT IN THE 1995 B.O. CHANNEL RESTORATION ACTIVITIES THAT MODIFY FLOW OR HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO ALTER CHANNEL FUNCTION WILL BE CONSULTED UPON ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS.
No active livestock driveways occur in any of the allotments containing listed fish. Livestock are moved from pasture to pasture depending upon utilization of forage within a given unit and where the next pasture is located. Roads are often used for stock movement; trails are used where they exist. Most livestock are trucked to the respective allotment. Stock holding and handling facilities are usually located well away from sensitive habitats, since holding fields and facilities should be relatively dry sites to facilitate stock handling.
Riding has been successful where livestock can be pushed into an area with fresh feed and water. Riding to control livestock distribution has been shown to be largely ineffective where the objective is to push stock out of sensitive riparian areas. Stock very often bunch up in those sensitive areas and when pushed out, simply drift back into the same favorite spots. Riding is most often done to spot check stock distribution, check or maintain fences, stock tanks or other improvements. Riding is also done to distribute salt.
1996 GRAZING SCHEDULE
Appendix 1 displays the allotments and pastures within the distribution of the Modoc, Lost River and shortnose suckers. Also displayed is the grazing system, number of livestock, period of use for 1996, and stream priority. For out years in deferred or rotational grazing systems, the season of use and occasionally the utilization rate will change as pastures move through a rotation, e.g. an early use with regrowth pasture may go to late season, with reduced utilization.
The Forest proposes to submit such a schedule to the Service each year prior to turnout. Coupled with the monitoring report from the previous year's grazing actions, we expect to provide a complete picture of how grazing is being managed in habitat for the listed species.
MONITORING: ANNUAL AND LONG-TERM.
Forest Service policy requires monitoring of ongoing activities to assure compliance with terms and conditions of the grazing permit. Further, monitoring is required by the LRMP, and is used to judge effectiveness of selected management practices in moving existing condition toward desired future condition. Such items as utilization, actual use, readiness and permit compliance are required by both USFS policy and to insure compliance with State and Federal Clean Water regulations. Best Management Practices (BMPs) require such monitoring as well.
Every allotment on the forest will have a monitoring element for the AMP. Intensity of data collection varies, depending upon issues associated with the allotment. As described above, monitoring will focus on herbaceous and woody vegetation utilization, stubble height and streambank alteration. Long range monitoring will include photo stations, stream cross-section measurements and temperature monitoring where grazing systems are changed and temperature control is an objective.
The forest compiles a monitoring report every year, and the range portion of the monitoring report will be submitted to FWS at the end of each calendar year. It is the Forest's intent to complete monitoring within 10 days after livestock leave a pasture or allotment. Monitoring methods and techniques will allow those outlined at III. B. above. Monitoring techniques and methods may change with agreement by the Service as techniques evolve and refine with experience.
Monitoring during the 1995 grazing season indicated very good compliance with Interim standards. Few problems occurred, and those were corrected in within 2-3 days. We know of no significant deviation from planned operations in the project area. A copy of the 1995 monitoring report was submitted to the Service in December, 1995.
Existing conditions in the project area have been documented in several reports and assessments recently compiled by USFS and other personnel. Included among those reports are: Stokke 1994; Reed 1994; Villegas 1993; Irvin 1994; 1995 B.A.; 1995 B.O.
Similarly, existing conditions are discussed in several documents and sources for Modoc sucker distribution including the 1994 BO, a BA for salvage harvest operations (USFS 1994) and Studinski 1994.
Additionally, Vogel Environmental Services surveyed approximately 205,000 feet (39 miles) of the streams within these allotments during 1993. Rosgen channel types and COWFISH fish habitat ratings were developed from this survey and this information is on file at the Supervisor's office in Alturas. Each 1000 foot stream reach is characterized by a COWFISH station. While COWFISH is designed as a trout habitat evaluation model, it has direct applicability here since it measures such parameters as width to depth ratio, streambank stability, embeddedness ( a measure of siltation, and general fisheries condition), overhanging vegetation and undercut bank.
Briefly summarized, the information on existing condition indicates the following:
Riparian areas are generally stable, but vegetative components have a preponderance of low seral plants. There is low plant diversity for the site potential. Examples are only 1 or 2 species of willows, sedges and domination of fortes.
Watershed condition is generally stable and sediment movement in the drainage is low. Water temperatures peak at 75+ degrees F generally for 1-4 days in the warmest part of the summer, and generally drop below 72 degrees F for extended periods.
Rosgen channel types are mostly B-4 boulder-strewn runs and C-5 pools. Much of the stream length is ephemeral, with little or no pool to pool surface flow in summer. Lower Willow Creek, a C-6 channel, is an exception, being mostly perennial in a reach extending about 8 miles from near Steele Swamp to Clear Lake.
Adult and juvenile shortnose suckers occur throughout Willow, Boles and Fletcher Creeks in all but West Grizzlie allotment. Surveys in 1993 did not find suckers on the West Grizzlie allotment, but did locate juvenile fish about 6000 feet downstream from the allotment boundary. No fish barriers exist upstream of that location, therefore, it is possible that suckers are on the allotment, but have not been located yet. Lost River suckers have not been found to be as wide-spread. Both species reside in Clear Lake and run up the tributaries for spawning. Buettner and Scoppetone (1991) found Lost River and shortnose suckers in large pond-like pools at least 1 meter deep. Recent information indicates that juveniles and adult fish reside year-round in pools and reservoirs within the watershed.
According to the report "Clear Lake Reservoir Reconsultation", submitted to the Portland Field Office, FWS by the US BOR 1994 new information developed includes:
Scoppetone 1993, indicated as many as 50 MILLION shortnose sucker larvae emigrated into Clear Lake from Willow Creek in the record water year of 1993.
Documented a healthy fish population with 16 year classes of fish from 1 to 23 years.
Scoppetone 1993, estimated about 1 MILLION Lost River sucker larvae emigrated into Clear Lake from Willow Creek that year.
Although Lost River suckers are less plentiful in the Clear Lake watershed, successful recruitment to the population has been documented from several year classes, including 1993.
''Information collected from Lost River suckers in 1993 provided the first indication that this species may be doing fairly well in Clear Lake. Not only was successful recruitment documented in 1993, but fish condition rebounded quickly from harsh conditions that occurred during 1991, 1992, and early 1993. Although only 178 fish were captured, because of the large size of the lake and the high catch per unit effort, the population size appears substantial. This hypothesis was supported by the lack of tag recaptures. All fish over 250 mm were tagged with floy anchor tags or PIT tags in 1992 and 1993. Only two tag recaptures were obtained from over 170 releases."(BOR, 1994)
According to Buettner and Scoppetone 1991 (in USFWS, 1993) Clear Lake supports a "large population of shortnose suckers with consistent recruitment and a diverse age structure." Lost River suckers in this drainage are of less certain status, but "populations are suspected to be larger than sampling may indicate and the age structure of the fish collected is fairly diverse." (Scoppetone, pers. comm. in USFWS, 1993). Further, it is known by reading Fischer, 1944, that watershed conditions in the late 1930's and early 1940's were very much different than we find today. Extensive bare ground and lack of soil cover was the general picture in the watershed. Few water control devices or water developments existed. Historically, livestock numbers were much higher than today, and grazing was year-round by most operators. Thus, it is safe to say that effects of significant grazing pressure has not entirely adversely affected Clear Lake watershed fish populations in the recent past.
During 1992, streamflows into Clear Lake were so low as to preclude upstream spawning runs by lake resident fish. Willow Creek flows into Clear Lake over a large gravel bar, through a braided channel. Incoming flows simply were braided throughout this channel and not sufficient to support fish access into Willow Creek. Juvenile suckers were documented moving downstream into Clear Lake in 1992, however, indicating that adult suckers had held over from previous years and successfully spawned in the system above the lake. We do not know how many years these fish may hold over in deep water refugia, or if indeed these fish have developed a resident status within the watershed. (Buettner, personal communication) It would appear from these observations that the Clear Lake watershed produces juvenile suckers on an annual basis, in spite of drought conditions. In fact, adult fish have been documented virtually throughout the watershed in summer, holding in deep pools and reservoirs (Vogel 1993 and Buettner and Scoppetone 1991). It would appear that these fish have found a way to cope with drought conditions by seeking out deep water areas within the watershed well upstream of Clear Lake, where the major population of adult fish spend the warm weather months. In April, 1994, Modoc NF employees Ratcliff and Irvin located an adult sucker 4.5 miles from Fletcher Creek up a drainage that had not run water since the high flows of 1993. The fish was in a developed wetland and had obviously spent the past year, at least, well outside known sucker distribution.
Livestock management has a long and intensive history on these allotments. A range condition report from 1944 documents the early grazing history by over 500,000 animals in the mid-1920s. Numbers were reduced severely in the mid-1940s, but by today's standards were still high. Much is made of the increase of cheatgrass as a watershed cover and for early-season forage. Most browse plants were classed as mature to decadent. (Fischer, 1944).
Current vegetative condition is greatly improved above that of 1944, but riparian areas especially have much greater potential for producing mid to late seral vegetation. Uplands are mostly satisfactory except where juniper has invaded and closed out the understory browse, grasses and fortes. Current stocking and grazing management strategies are showing stabilizing or sharply upward trends in vegetative condition, depending upon site capability and specific location.
A number of case examples for riparian recovery under differing management prescriptions exist in these allotments. Photo documentation and notes on most of these case examples are available in district and supervisor's office files. A sample set of long-term monitoring data from Willow Creek are enclosed- photo stations, temperature data and stream cross-sections. Notable among these examples are:
Lower Willow Creek, above Clear Lake has been excluded from grazing with some limited exceptions, since 1988. A marked increase in riparian vegetation has occurred including the development of extensive streambank stands of aspen and willows. This riparian vegetation has become extensive enough to support breeding pairs of willow flycatchers documented in 1994. A marked deepening of stream channel reach has occurred and has been documented via stream profiles shot before the exclusion and again in 1993. Stream temperatures have decreased significantly and again were documented before and after treatment.
Mulkey Place on Fletcher Creek in West Grizzly allotment has been in a management prescription of early season use by 300 cow/calf pairs since 1988. (See photos) This stream has shown similar response as Lower Willow Creek above with notable streambank cover development of willows and sedges, marked stream deepening, development of overhanging banks and overhanging vegetation along the water column. Grazing from about mid-May until 35' vegetation utilization is achieved has been ongoing while the above recovery has been documented. Photo points, stream cross-sections and temperature data all document marked recovery from pretreatment conditions.
Warm Springs allotment is another example of improved resource conditions with early season grazing at 35% vegetative utilization on herbaceous plants (See photos). Riparian areas within Warm Springs allotment are managed by grazing from mid-May to early June, subsequent removal of livestock and reserving the pastures for mid-to-late summer regrowth of riparian vegetation. Monitoring this practice after 6 years indicates 4-5 year old willows; sedges have greatly increased along streambanks, and channels have narrowed and deepened. Photo points are established and vegetative transects indicate sharply upward trend in plant succession, streambank cover and riparian health.
Dalton allotment contains Mowitz Creek, a Clear Lake tributary. Mowitz Creek was fenced above road 46N29 in 1983 to provide riparian recovery. The stream has been ungrazed although the original fencing design was for a riparian pasture. Dramatic temperature and stream channel changes have occurred and are documented by Jones (1988). Below the road the stream was fenced and the culverts were realigned in 1995 to facilitate fish passage. While suckers have not been found in Mowitz Creek, they were observed congregating off the mouth during 1995 by National Biological Service (NBS) field crews.
Western juniper stands are extensive in some areas, with juniper canopy amounting to 30+% closure, and trees 60-90 years of age.
On Willow Creek near the confluence of Boles Creek, the diurnal temperature shift was only 2-3 degrees F in summer 1995 (see Figure 4) showing the recovery of temperature in a greatly improved riparian area (excluded from grazing since 1988).
In summary, existing conditions in the Clear Lake watershed as evidenced by streambank stability, channel morphology, watershed performance, vegetative composition and ground cover are about 80% at or moving toward desired future condition. About 20% of the watershed is in less than desired condition. Where the latter is the case, methods to move toward desired condition have been put in place,(i.e. fencing at Hidden Valley), or immediate plans are being formulated through the AMP planning process to effect desired changes.
Several specific modifications to on-going grazing activities have been completed or agreed to. They include:
Mammoth allotment contains a long reach of Boles Creek and that reach was placed in a riparian pasture in 1995. Two wells were drilled in this allotment to provide water for livestock and wildlife since Boles Creek was excluded.
Mammoth allotment is bounded on the north by Willow Creek which is currently excluded from grazing and may be grazed for very limited time with 35% utilization upon project completion. Excluded from grazing since 1988, riparian vegetation has already shown a shift from early seral toward mid-to-late seral conditions with expression of woody vegetation including willows and aspen.
Clear Lake's eastern shoreline within the Mammoth allotment was fenced on the USFS-FWS boundary to exclude livestock from that shoreline in 1993.
The north shoreline of Clear Lake within the Clear Lake allotment will be fenced on the USFS-FWS boundary to exclude livestock in 1996.
Hidden Valley on the Blue Mountain allotment was fenced into a riparian pasture in 1994. After sufficient recovery, use will be followed by 2 year of rest in this pasture.
Lower Mowitz Creek was fenced in 1995 to provide an exclusion below road 46N29. Mowitz Creek above the road was fenced in 1987 and provides a case example of riparian recovery. (Jones 1988)
Replacement of the culvert on North Fork Willow Creek on Road 48N08, to facilitate fish passage, was completed in fall 1995, and monitoring will continue to insure proper function. Similarly, the Mowitz Creek culverts were realigned on Forest Road 136 in fall 1995, and monitoring will continue. These improvements resulted from allotment planning, were funded by Forest priority and represent about $40,000 commitment to aggressively addressing fisheries opportunities.
The Blue Mountain allotment on the Devil's Garden RD will be grazed as a distinct allotment. Riparian habitats in this allotment are generally in good condition, evidenced by streambank cover, width to depth ratios, diversity of plant species and water temperatures. Important riparian reaches in Blue Mountain allotment include North Fork-Willow Creek from Wilcox Spring to the Oregon border and Fletcher Creek above Avanzino Reservoir upstream for about 3 miles. Little Willow Creek, above the Willow Creek Ranch offers a textbook example of riparian response to early season grazing with regrowth, and "Tri-tip Meadow'' (on that same stream) offers a good example of limited utilization on a late season pasture with abundant willows, sedges and perennial grasses.
West Grizzlie will similarly be grazed as a unit. Fletcher Creek on this allotment is habitat for suckers, although fish have not been found there yet. Fish found just downstream from the allotment boundary indicate that fish may occur on the allotment. In any case, the allotment furnishes runoff and upper watershed for the fish in lower reaches of Fletcher Creek.
Modoc sucker habitat conditions are detailed in the 1994 BO, 1-1-94-F-57, the 1995 BO, 1-ERO-95-F-007, and Studinski (1994). It is important to note that about 90% of the occupied habitat on the Forest is fenced and excluded from livestock grazing. Some stream reaches have been excluded since 1980.
Discussed at length in 1995 BA and 1995 BO.
Discussed at length in 1995 BA and 1995 BOO.
Modoc, Lost River and shortnose suckers:
It is my determination that development of Allotment Management Plans to prescribe terms and conditions for grazing in the project area for 1996 and out years MAY AFFECT, and is likely to ADVERSELY AFFECT Modoc, Lost River and shortnose suckers and their habitat. This determination is based primarily on the fact that grazing these altered watershed retards their recovery to fully functioning systems.
We have demonstrated that application of LRMP standards and guidelines described herein will promote recovery of these systems, but at a slower rate than with no grazing.
We propose to graze in these allotments as follows:
a. Maximum allowable use on herbaceous vegetation is assigned by Rosgen class of channel but in no case will utilization exceed 50% depending upon season of use and riparian condition, i.e. for areas in excellent condition, early season use may be 50%; at least 4-6" stubble height remaining after grazing on all streams suitable for Modoc, Lost River and shortnose suckers. (LRMP 4-138)
b. Maximum allowable utilization of willow (combined livestock and wildlife use) is 40% of annual growth. (LRMP 4-138)
c. Rehabilitate and maintain habitat as directed in the recovery plan for Lost River and shortnose sucker, Stubbs and White, 1993. (LRMP 4-143)
d. Maintain or enhance substrate composition for the benefit of suckers. (LRMP 1-144)
e. Maintain fish habitat by providing large woody debris. (LRMP 4-144)
f. Implement willow planting and fencing to expedite recovery and enhance habitat. (LRMP 4-145)
g. Annually monitor and report herbage and woody vegetation utilization; stubble height and streambank alteration; monitor within 10 days of removing livestock from pasture or allotment, except in emergency situations. (LRMP E-2, 5-9)
h. Measure streambank and channel recovery. Establish permanent photo points to document progress toward meeting management objectives. (LRMP E-2, 5-9, 5-20)
i. Report significant violations as soon as possible by telephone to SFO or KFFO, and take immediate corrective action consistent with Forest policy (Appendix 4, 1995 BA, currently under revision).
Anderson, S. 1993. Livestock management effects on wildlife, fisheries and riparian areas-a selected literature review. Humboldt National Forest.
Buettner, M.E. and G.G. Scoppetone. 1991. Distribution and information on the taxonomic status of the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris and Lost River sucker (Deltistes luxatus) in the Klamath River Basin, California. Completion Report. National Fisheries Research Center - Reno Field Station, Nevada. 101 pp.
Chaney, E., W. Elmore and W.S. Platts. 1990. Livestock grazing on western riparian areas. US Environmental Protection Agency document.
Clary, W.P. and B.F. Webster. 1989. Managing grazing of riparian areas in the Intermountain Region. Gen Tech Rep. INT-263. USDA-FS. Ogden, UT.
Clary, W.P. and D.E. Medlin. 1990. Differences in vegetation biomass and structure due to cattle grazing in a northern Nevada riparian ecosystem. Res. Pap. INT-427. USDA-FS. 8 pp.
Conroy, S.D. and T.J. Svejcar. 1991. Willow planting success as influenced by site factors and cattle grazing in northeastern California. J. Range Mgmt. 44(1): 59-67.
Elmore, W. and R.L. Beschta. 1987. Riparian Areas: Perceptions in management. Rangelands 9(6):260-265.
Kauffman, J.B., W.L. Krueger and M. Varva. 1982. Effects of late season cattle grazing on riparian plant communities. J. Range Mgmt. 36(6):685-691.
Kauffman, J.B., W.L. Krueger and M. Varva. 1985. Impacts of cattle on streambanks in northeastern Oregon. J. Range Mgmt. 36(6):683-685.
Kauffman, J.B. and W.C. Krueger. 1984. Livestock impacts on riparian plant communities and streamside management implications, a review. J. Range Mgmt. 37(5):430-437.
Kovalchik, B.L. and W. Elmore. 1992. Effects of cattle grazing on willow dominated plant associations in central Oregon. pp. 111-119 in: Symposium Ecology and management of riparian and shrub communities. GTR INT-289. USDA-FS.
Fisher, G. 1944. Range Condition and Grazing Report, Modoc National Forest. Memo. 40 pp.
Irvin, J. 1994. Watershed report-West Grizzlie and Blue Mountain Allotments, Devil's Garden Ranger District, Modoc NF. 6 pg.
Jones, R.M. 1988. Mowitz Creek Water Temperature, July and August, 1988. Doublehead Ranger District, Modoc National Forest. 7 pp. Memo.
Jones, R.M. 1989. Willow Creek Water Temperature Analysis, July and August, 1988. Doublehead Ranger District, Modoc National Forest. 10 pp. Memo.
Overton, C.K., McIntyre, J.D., Armstrong, R., Whitwell, S.L., Duncan, K.A. 1995. User's guide to fish habitat: descriptions that represent natural conditions in the Salmon River Basin, Idaho. Gen Tech Rep INT-GTR-322. Ogden, Ut. USDA, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 142 pg.
Platts, W.S. 1983. Vegetation requirements for fisheries habitats. pp. 184-188 in: GTR INT-157. USDA-FS.
Platts, W.S. 1984. Progress in range riparian stream research at the Intermountain Forest and Range Experimental Station. Proceedings, Bonneville Chapter, American Fisheries Society. pp 78-84.
Platts, W.S. 1990. Managing fisheries and wildlife on rangelands grazed by livestock: A guidance and reference document for biologists. Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Reed, B. 1994. Livestock management report-Boles, Dalton, Mammoth and Perez allotments, Doublehead Ranger District, Modoc NF. 18 pg.
Rosgen, D.L. 1985. A Stream Classification System. in Johnson, R.R., et al, tech coords. Riparian Ecosystems and Their Management: Reconciling Conflicting Uses. First north American Riparian Conference; USDA Tech Report GRT-RM-120; pp 91-95.
Stokke, S. 1994. Riparian area specialist report-Boles, Dalton, Perez and Mammoth grazing allotments, Doublehead Ranger District, Modoc NF. 34 pg.
Stokke, S. 1994. Riparian area specialist report-West Grizzlie and Blue Mountain grazing allotments, Devil's Garden Ranger District, Modoc NF. 24 pg.
Studinski, G. 1994. Wildlife report-West Grizzlie and Blue Mountain grazing allotments, Devil's Garden Ranger District, Modoc NF. 12 pg.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1993. Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and Shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) Sucker Recovery Plan. Portland, Oregon. 108 pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. Formal Consultation on US Forest Service Salvage Operations Affecting Modoc Suckers in rush Creek and Dutch Flat Creek Drainages, Modoc County, California. Sacramento California. 18 pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Formal Consultation and Conference on Modoc National Forests 1995 Grazing Program, Big Valley, Doublehead and Devil's Garden Ranger Districts, California. Klamath Falls, Oregon. 39 pp + figures, maps and appendices.
U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Modoc National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. Alturas, California. 3 Volume set + maps.
Villegas, J. 1993. Wildlife report-Boles, Dalton, Mammoth and Perez grazing allotments, Doublehead Ranger District, Modoc NF. 31 pg.
1996 CLEARLAKE WATERSHED ALLOTMENT GRAZING SCUEDULE
WITHIN LOST RIVER AND SHORTNOSE SUCKER HABITAT
(Unavailable in this format)
WILLOW CREEK MONITORING STATIONS, MISC. PHOTO POINTS AND 1995 PHOTOS
(Not included in KRIS due to picture quality and availability problems.)