NEWSLETTER OF THE EASTSIDE ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT PROJECT
EVALUATING AND IMPLEMENTING ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT WITHIN THE INTERIOR COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN.
" LOT OF FOREST STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, PROBABLY A STACK ABOUT FIVE FEET HIGH, BUT THEY HAVE NOT BEEN INTEGRATED. WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT INTEGRATING THEM, SINCE WE DO NOT HAVE THE TIME AND RESOURCES TO DO NEW STUDIES."
Thanks to 12 public workshops and 9 employee briefings throughout Oregon and Washington, the Eastside Ecosystem Management Team has gained new knowledge and ideas on how you would like to be involved in this project.
Each workshop had an exceptional turnout of people and a different mix of interests and opinions. Each area visited has a unique background and culture to offer to the outcome of this effort. The project team greatly appreciated everyone taking their personal time to share those with us.
The objectives of the workshops were to begin a dialog and establish relationships with those people interested in the project. Overall, these objectives were met. Generally, people seemed appreciative of the extensive outreach initiated by these workshops and liked being involved in the early stages of the project.
At every workshop new concerns and ideas were brought forward. Several key ideas and questions were brought up at almost every workshop and briefing. Most of these were questions about "how will this affect me?" Team members tried to answer most of those questions. But the truth is, this process is so new and still evolving that all the answers are not yet known. For example, it isn't known yet what type or how much data will be needed from each National Forest or Bureau of Land Management District for the scientific efforts. It is also not known yet how Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington will be divided into provinces. These answers will be provided as they are finalized. The overall general impressions received from the workshops were:
~ People want all types of information and want it in every way imaginable, from summaries to videos to extensive mailings. The caveat is that people prefer science report abstracts and science meeting updates in simple, readable language.
~ Make use of local channels and local networks to share and receive information. People expressed a great need for information at a local level. They want one-on-one contacts to interact whenever possible. A theme was that local people and their involvement is important.
~ Public lands belong to everyone. The public expressed the desire to have people involved from across the nation in this project. The message was include people from beyond the local communities in this project. ~ Some frustrations were heard over the aspects of evolving information in this project. People are not accustomed to vague aspects.
~ People expressed wide ranging thoughts over what scientists do, who they are and what their role is.
~ Expand meetings to other locations within the scientific assessment area.
~ Many folks want to know how their input will be used and how will it be listened to by others. People want a feedback loop to "see" how their input was used.
~ People want more than active listening. They want their opinions and values to be acknowledged. They also want to be able to interact with the people making the decisions.
~ The different science processes and products were confusing for some people. How people can share scientific information with the team is a different process.
~ People had a hard time relating to, or understanding what, "ecosystem management" is. Folks want to know what is driving this process. In addition, they have a hard time visualizing what an eastside environmental impact statement might cover, and how it might influence them.
~ People want to know that this is the end of the planning process and that after the project is completed it will be implemented.
A summary of the ideas and suggestions received at the workshops is available at local BLM and Forest Service offices through the Public Affairs Officer.
PROJECT NEWSLETTER - This is the second edition of "THE EASTSIDE EDGE." These updates will hopefully be provided to all interested people, including agency employees, about twice a month. Project updates, meeting schedules, and other items of interest will be covered on a regular basis.
ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - The electronic library should be up and running by early April. People with personal computers and modems will be able to connect with the Eastside Project Electronic Library in Walla Walla to read and download documents. There will be eight phone lines to tap into the library.
TOLL FREE INFORMATION NUMBER - The toll free number should also be available by early April. There will be two incoming phones lines. A menu will offer people options about obtaining up to the minute project information, such as meeting schedules.
LOCAL INFORMATION CENTERS - People at the workshops expressed a need for information and contacts to be available in their local area. The communications team is currently working with local Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Offices to set up information centers. At each center a designated "Answer Person" will be available to respond to specific questions about the project.
Science Workshops were held March 21-25 on the Ecosystem Management Framework. The objective was to use outside ideas, talent, and understanding to assist the Science Integration Team in bringing the Framework from an outline into an initial draft. Opportunities for public interaction were provided during the week and considerable progress was made.
The next Science Integration Team (SIT) Meeting is scheduled for March 28 - April 1. The team will continue to work on the Ecosystem Management Framework. An important agenda item for the week is a working meeting of scientists to establish government to government relationships with the Native American Tribes. The schedule for meeting March 28 is:
The decision on the geographic scope of the EIS will be made in late March. We received several comments from the public related to this decision, and are currently evaluating them. A decision is needed now to help focus data collection needs for the EIS.
A series of public scoping meetings are being planned for late May. "Scoping" is the process used by the federal agencies to identify important issues and determine what analysis is necessary to make a decision on a proposed action. The dates, times, places and pre-meeting information should be available to the public in early May. Copies of the Purpose and Need statement to develop an Environmental Impact Statement will be mailed to the project mailing list before these meetings. This mailing will also include draft statements of topics to be addressed by the EIS.
The EIS Team will hold a meeting in Walla Walla on March 31, that will be open to the public. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the Purpose and Need statement. This statement briefly describes why we are developing an Environmental Impact Statement. A draft Purpose and Need statement will be available March 28 at the Eastside Project Office in Walla Walla.
The schedule for the meeting on March 31 is: