California Native Plant Society

Forestry Program

Glossary of Forestry Terms

BA See Biological Assessment

Biological Assessment (BA)

According to the USFS  Manual (Chapter 2670 - Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Plants and Animals), a BA is, “A “biological evaluation” conducted for major Federal construction projects requiring an environmental impact statement, in accordance with legal requirements under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1536(c)).  The purpose of the assessment and resulting document is to determine whether the proposed action is likely to affect an endangered, threatened, or proposed species.”

BAs are developed to assess probable impacts of USFS projects to Federally listed species, while biological evaluations (BEs) are developed to assess impacts of USFS projects to USFS designated sensitive species.  When members of the public request USFS EAs or EISs for a project they should always request the associated BAs and/or BEs because these are often treated as appendices and not routinely provided to the public during public comment periods.

Biological Evaluation (BE) A documented USFS review of Forest Service programs or acts in sufficient detail to determine how an action or proposed action may affect any threatened, endangered, proposed, or sensitive species.
BE See Biological Evaluation
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 was enacted to help protect environmental quality in California.  The four primary objectives of CEQA are:

  1. Disclosure of significant impacts to the environment.
  2. Identify mechanisms to reduce or avoid significant negative impacts.
  3. Require implementation of feasible alternatives or mitigation measures.
  4. Provide agency rationale for approval of projects with significant negative impacts.
  5. Enhance inter-agency cooperation
  6. Facilitate public participation in the process  
Categorical Exclusion (CE) The Secretary of Agriculture and USFS Chief have identified categories of action which they believe have been determined to normally not, individually or cumulatively, have a significant effect upon the human environment.  Neither an Environmental Assessment nor an Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared for a specific proposed action that falls within one of these categories, unless the environmental analysis for that specific action indicates an impact to an "extraordinary circumstance."  If USFS decides that there are no significant impacts, then they must provide an analysis that supports this conclusion.
CE See Categorical Exclusion
Certified Regulatory Program (CRP) The California Environmental Quality Act authorizes the California Secretary of State to certify that certain state regulatory programs need only comply with abbreviated requirements.  The intent is to implement standardized CEQA processing  of repetitive, frequent projects, without going through a full CEQA process.  California's timber harvesting program, administered by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and its pesticide regulation program, administered by the Department of Pesticide Regulation are both CRPs under CEQA.
CEQA See California Environmental Quality Act
Decision Memo (DM) A Decision Memo is one of several documents for recording and disclosing to the public a decision of the responsible forest officer.  A decision memo is used for certain proposed actions that are categorically excluded.
DM See Decision Memo.
Decision Notice (DN)

According to the USFS  Manual (Chapter 1950 - Environmental Policy and Procedures), a Decision Notice is, "A concise written record of the responsible official's decision based on an environmental assessment and a finding of no significant impact (sec. 43.2).”

A DN  is one of several documents for recording and disclosing to the public a decision of the responsible forest officer.  A DN is used for proposals that are documented in an EA, and for which a FONSI has been made.  Often the DN and FONSI are combined in one document.  After a DN is issued, the public may appeal the decision. For actions that are categorically excluded from full NEPA analysis in an EA or EIS, a decision memo rather than a decision notice is issued upon a finding of no significant impact.

DN See Decision Notice
EA See Environmental Assessment
EIS See Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental Analysis Procedures followed in the assessment of the nature and significance of the physical, biological, social, and economic effects of a proposed action and its reasonable alternatives in a national forest.  These can be loose notes or other documents in the project file.
Environmental Assessment (EA)

According to the USFS  Manual (Chapter 1950 - Environmental Policy and Procedures), an Environmental Assessment is, "... (a) . . . a concise public document for which a Federal agency is responsible that serves to: (1) Briefly provide sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant impact. (2) Aid an agency's compliance with the Act when no environmental impact statement is necessary. (3) Facilitate preparation of a statement when one is necessary. (b) Shall include brief discussions of the need for the proposal, of alternatives as required by section 102(2)(E), of the environmental impacts of the proposed action and alternatives, and a listing of agencies and persons consulted. (40 CFR 1508.9)”

An EA is a concise public document that provides evidence and analysis for determining the extent of environmental effects or consequences of a proposed action and alternative actions.  It aides in determining whether to prepare an EIS or a FONSI.  An EA must contain analysis of alternative courses of action and their environmental impacts.  Unlike EISs, there is no requirement that draft EAs must be released for public review and comment.  However, as a matter of practice the USFS generally allows a 30 day pre-decisional review period.  The USFS however is not required to respond to comments on EAs as it is on EISs.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

According to The Council on Environmental Quality, NEPA regulations 40 CFR 1500-8, “1502.1 Purpose. The primary purpose of an Environmental Impact Statement is to serve as an action-forcing device to insure that the policies and goals defined in the [National Environmental Policy] Act are infused into the ongoing programs and actions of the Federal Government. It shall provide full and fair discussion of significant environmental impacts and shall inform decision makers and the public of the reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. …. It shall be used by Federal officials in conjunction with other relevant material to plan actions and make decisions.”

An EIS is a detailed written statement that documents the proposed action, alternatives to the proposed action, the characteristics of the environment that is potentially affected by the proposed action, and the environmental consequences of implementing each alternative.  An EIS follows a prescribed outline and includes a list of those who prepared and consulted in its preparation.  Public review of a draft EIS is required before the final EIS is prepared.  An EIS must meet more precise requirements for the range of alternatives analyzed and the quality of scientific information included than EAs. EISs also mandate greater public input than EAs.

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) According to the USFS  Manual (Chapter 1950 - Environmental Policy and Procedures), a Finding of No Significant Impact is, "... a document by a Federal agency briefly presenting the reasons why an action will not have a significant effect on the human environment and for which an environmental impact statement therefore will not be prepared. It shall include the environmental assessment or a summary of it and shall note any other environmental documents related to it. (40 CFR 1508.13)”
FONSI See Finding of No Significant Impact.
Forest Practice Act (FPA) The California Forest Practice Act of 1973 regulates all timber harvesting in California on all non-federal land.
FPA See Forest Practice Act
Forest Practice Rules (FPR) The California Forest Practice Rules are adopted by the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to implement the California Forest Practice Act.  Printed copies of the FPR may be obtained from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or are available electronically online.  It is essential to be familiar with the FPR if one is to comment competently on timber harvest plans.
FPR See Forest Practice Rules
Lead Agency Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, a lead agency is any California state public agency that has the primary responsibility for approving any project that may have a significant impact upon the environment [CEQA Guidelines §15367].
Licensed Timber Operator (LTO) A Licensed Timber Operator is any person licensed to conduct timber operations in California.
LTO See Licensed Timber Operator.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) NEPA provides the basic national charter for protection of the environment.  It establishes policy, sets goals, and provides means for carrying out the policy.  Specific procedures to be followed are provided in regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1500-1508) and in Forest Service Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook 1909.15.
NEPA See National Environmental Policy Act.
Notice of Availability (NOA) An NOA is the Federal Register notice that announces the availability of a draft or final EIS.
NOA See Notice of Availability.
Record of Decision (ROD) A ROD is one of several decision documents for recording and disclosing to the public a decision of a responsible forest officer.  A ROD is used for proposals for which an EIS has been prepared.
ROD See Record of Decision.
Registered Professional Forester (RPF) A Registered Professional Forester is a person licensed by the State of California to perform professional forestry services, including preparation of THPs.
RPF See Registered Professional Forester
SOPA See Statement of Proposed Actions.
Statement of Proposed Actions (SOPA) These are lists of all projects proposed by each National Forest.  Lists are usually published quarterly.  Any member of the public can request that copies of the quarterly statements of proposed actions be mailed to them.  The lists vary greatly from National Forest to National Forest in currency, organization, and in the amount of information provided.
THP See Timber Harvest Plan
Timber Harvest Plan (THP) A Timber Harvest Plan is a formal document that must be submitted to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and approved by its director before non-exempt timber operations can commence on non-federal land in California.
Trustee Agency Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, a trustee agency is any California state agency having jurisdiction by law over natural resources affected by a project which are held in trust for the public. [CEQA Guidelines §15386]


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