The draft Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) generated by the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project will be released in late spring. The documents outline Forest Service and BLM land management in parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah. The project's scientific documents will also be available for Congressional and public review at that time.
Two factors contributed to the timeline extension. They are:
Preliminary Draft EIS Review Results
In mid-October, a preliminary draft EIS was released for internal, agency, county, and tribal review. This preliminary draft included seven alternatives, which were developed using the themes and goals that the public, tribes, counties, and agencies helped generate. The preliminary draft also included the chapter which describes the affected environment, or existing conditions within the project area. The review generated many suggested changes that would assure the documents are clear and can be implemented. Several of these suggestions are currently being incorporated.
Project employees were recently furloughed for three weeks. The resulting delay in project work has pushed the document release date back three weeks.
Next Public Update -- Thursday, February 22
The project staff wants to keep you updated and involved through these final stages. The next public meeting will take place at the Walla Walla project office on Thursday, February 22 at 9:00 a.m. Discussion topics will include the final array of alternatives and an update on the project's legislative process. Science Integration Team Leader Tom Quigley will describe how the team is evaluating each EIS alternative, based on the aquatic, terrestrial, and landscape ecological conditions in the project area. He will field questions on the implications of those findings.
As we bring this project to completion, we appreciate your patience and understanding during these uncertain and challenging times. We will continue to provide progress reports.