INTERIOR COLUMBIA BASIN ECOSYSTEM
MANAGEMENT PROJECT


THE LEADING EDGE

JULY 16, 1997

VOLUME 4, NO. 4


NEWSLETTER OF THE INTERIOR COLUMBIA BASIN ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT PROJECT ~

EVALUATING AND IMPLEMENTING ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT


"With the release of the Draft EISs we have laid out a proposal. NOW is the time for people to become involved. Please take time to review the Draft EISs and help us, through your thoughtful comments, to make some tough decisions"

Susan Giannettino
Project Manager


PROJECT OPEN HOUSES and WORKSHOPS SCHEDULED


A series of seven open houses and workshops are being planned throughout the project area. An afternoon workshop with resource specialists and other interested employees from all of the participating agencies is planned to assist them in reviewing the Draft EISs and answering their questions so they can provide useful and constructive comments and suggestions to the EIS Team.

Beginning at 7:00 p.m. local time on the specified date, an open house will be held at each site listed below. Anyone interested in the Project is invited to come and learn more and discuss the Draft Environmental Impact Statements. Each open house will begin with a short introduction to the project staff followed by an opportunity to ask questions and interact directly with the Project's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Team.

Anyone interested is welcome to either one or both sessions at each of the following locations:

JULY 29 - SPOKANE, WASHINGTON

Ridpath Hotel - Empress Room
W515 Sprague
Spokane, Washington

AUGUST 4 - IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO

Best Western Stardust Motor Lodge
700 Lindsay
Idaho Falls, Idaho

JULY 30 - LEWISTON, IDAHO

Sacajawea Center - Clearwater Room
1824 Main Street
Lewiston, Idaho

AUGUST 5 - BAKER CITY, OREGON

Best Western Sunridge
1 Sunridge Lane
Baker City, Oregon

JULY 31 - MISSOULA, MONTANA

Boone and Crockett Club
250 Station Drive
Missoula, Montana

AUGUST 6 - BURNS, OREGON

Harney County Fairgrounds - Memorial Blg
Fairgrounds Road
Burns, Oregon

AUGUST 7 - BEND, OREGON

National Guard Armory
875 SW Simpson Avenue
Bend, Oregon

These will not be the only public meetings scheduled during the comment period. Additional meetings will be announced as they are scheduled.


PLEASE - TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!


With the release of the two Draft Environmental Impact Statements, we are now looking to the public for their ideas so that we can improve the Final EIS(s). We are accepting and reviewing comments until October 6, 1997, when the formal public comment period officially ends. Through this process we fully expect that the Final EIS(s) and the Record of Decision will look much different.

Public involvement is not a voting excercise, therefore, we are not looking for people to "vote" on their "favorite alternative." Instead, we hope people will take the time to make their comments specific by telling us what part of the alternatives they do not like, what parts seem like they would work best, and possibly how to blend various aspects of the different alternatives. We also want to know what you like in the Draft EISs and what you would not change.

The more specific a comment is, the more helpful it will be. Including page numbers, figure numbers, citations, reasons for a statement, and any other information will help us understand your comments and concerns. For example, are there concepts, definitions, or graphics that should (or should not) change for the Final EIS(s)? Are there areas you would like to see us explore further or provide more detail? Do there appear to be inaccuracies in data, assumptions, or methodologies? If so, please include corrections and your source of information.

Are there inconsistencies within the documents? Do we need to clarify concepts or terminology? Please tell us if there are better ways to organize or display the information, or if you find any typographical errors or misspellings. These are large, complex documents, we need your help to improve them.

As comments are received, an objective method called "content analysis" will be used to compile, categorize, and organize the public input by identifying specific areas of concerns from respondents. The process captures substantive comments in the respondent's own words, keeping opinions and supportive reasons together, without interpretation or judgement. All substantive comments will be organized into similar categories, synthesized, and then summarized into reports.

The content analysis process will not capture general observations, like "Your proposal is overly complex and confusing." Providing a reason for an opinion, such as "Your proposal is confusing because you use technical terms without defining them first," is much more helpful to the EIS Team. Acknowledgements or courtesy statements, such as "I received a copy of your DEIS and am pleased to have the opportunity to comment," will not be captured in the analysis.

Comments will then be responded to in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Modify the alternatives;

  2. Develop and evaluate alternatives not previously considered;

  3. Supplement, improve, or modify the analysis;

  4. Make factual corrections;

  5. Explain why the comments do not warrant further agency response.

The content analysis reports and EIS Team responses will be given to the Project's Executive Steering Committee. The three Forest Service Regional Foresters and three BLM State Directors will then make the final decision on a land management strategy which will guide management of more than 72 million acres of lands administered by the two agencies within the project area.


SUMMARY OF THE DRAFT EISs


We are looking for your opinion on the Draft Environmental Impact Statements. To help you focus your comments, the following short reference will help you to manuever through one or both of the Draft EISs and find the portions you are most interested in. In addition, everyone on the project mailing list also received a copy of "Considering All Things" which provides a succinct, easy to read summary of the EISs.

The Preferred Alternative
The preferred alternative was selected by the project's Executive Steering Committee. The preferred alternative booklet identifies Alternative 4 as the preferred alternative and describes the reasons it was chosen from the array of seven alternatives presented in the Draft EISs.

Chapter 1: Introduction/Purpose and Need
Chapter 1 introduces the purpose and need for the proposed action, the public issues surrounding the proposal, and the decisions to be made. This chapter provides the where and why of the document and the foundation of the Draft EISs. It is fairly easy reading.

Chapter 2: Affected Environment
Chapter 2 describes the existing environment, including current conditions and trends from historical conditions that will be addressed by the alternatives. This chapter is based on the Assessment of Ecosystem Components and the Integrated Scientific Assessment, documents developed by the project's Science Integration Team. The chapter is divided into sections on air and soils, forestlands, rangelands, wildlife, aquatics, human uses, and tribal issues with an integrated summary at the end. A "Summary of Conditions and Trends" is provided for each section. A discussion of Forest and Range Clusters is also located at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 3: Alternatives
Chapter 3 presents and compares seven alternatives, including the No Action Alternatives (Alternatives 1 & 2), incorporating the latest scientific information. The chapter begins with the "Theme" and "Design" of each alternative. Definitions, Desired Range of Future Conditions, Objectives and Standards, "Management Activity Levels" and the "Differences Between and Comparison of the Alternatives" are located in this chapter.

Chapter 4: Environmental Consequences
Chapter 4 is based on the Evaluation of the EIS Alternatives by the Science Integration Team. It discloses and evaluates the possible environmental, social, and economic consequences of implementing the proposed alternatives. The chapter includes methodology, assumptions, causes, and effects as well as a "Summary of Key Effects and Conclusions" for each section.

Chapter 5: Consultation and Coordination
Chapter 5 provides a list of preparers of the EISs and other contributors, and a list of those who were sent the Draft EISs.

The Appendices
Additional documentation and details are provided in the associated appendices including sections on: public involvement and identification of the issues; development of the alternatives; supporting science, laws and plans; American Indian background; benefits and risks of the project; viability; implementation and monitoring framework; and supporting background, data, and information on natural resources such as plant and animal species, minerals, aquatics, and rangelands.


BASIN-WIDE SATELLITE TELECONFERENCE HELD


The Project held a teleconference on the evening of July 9, broadcasting to over fifty communities across six states within the project area. The 750 - 1,000 people who participated (plus those at home who watched on home satellite dishes) were introduced to the project's two Draft Environmental Impact Statements. They also had the opportunity to listen to and ask questions of several of the project's Executive Steering Committee, who selected the preferred alternative and will be the decision makers for the Final EIS due out next year.

Through the use of panel discussions and a pre-produced video, the agency executives explained why there was a need for agency action, what solutions are being proposed, and what the public can do to influence the outcomes. A forum for questions and answers was given through the use of fax, e-mail, and the internet. Participants were able to send their questions to the broadcast studio at Boise State University and the last 25 minutes of the 90 minute teleconference was devoted to answering questions from viewers.

Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck, on a family vacation in Orofino, Idaho, surprised the local community by attending the teleconference there. After a few technical difficulties, only one site out of 50, Missoula, Montana, was unable to link to the satellite. Initial feedback on the session and the use of modern technology was positive. Participants seemed to feel the production was well prepared and informative. A viewer in Burns, Oregon stated, "It was professional, brief, and to the point."


MONTHLY PUBLIC INFORMATION MEETINGS TO BE REINSTATED


Now that both the scientific documents and the two Draft Environmental Impact Statements have been published, the project staff has more time to devote to regularly scheduled meetings. We plan to return to the original project tradition of holding monthly "update" meetings.

Beginning in late August we will hold monthly evening meetings to update and inform interested participants on the progress and status of the project, as well as providing an opportunity to give us feedback and interact one-on-one. These meetings have served the project staff well since the the early days of the project in providing us excellent ideas, suggestions, and comments which have made the now published DEISs much better products. We look forward to hearing what people feel about the proposed management alternatives within these documents.

At this time the following meetings are scheduled: Exact times and locations will be announced later:

August 27 - Walla Walla, Washington

September 25 - Boise, Idaho

October 21 - Walla Walla, Washington


WHERE TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS


Release of the two Draft Environmental Impact Statements was formally announced with a Notice of Availability filed in the Federal Register on June 6. At that time the 120-day formal public comment period began. Comments will be accepted through October 6 at the following addresses:

112 E. Poplar Street
P.O. Box 2076
Walla Walla, WA 99362

304 North 8th Street
Room 250
Boise, ID 83702

In addition, an electronic comment form is available at:
/r6/icbemp/pdfs/deis/deisform.html