"What we are doing is providing information to the public of possible future conditions which can be achieved for eastern Oregon and Washington. These conditions need to include all aspects of the environment including people and the economic and social structure that are important to them."
ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - The new electronic library is now available. People with personal computers and modems can now connect directly to the Eastside Project in Walla Walla to read and download documents.
Personal computer users with communication software and a modem with a baud rate of up to 9600 (8,1,N) can call 509-522-4085 to log onto the library. Eight phone lines are available. From the main menu, you can search through the library for information bulletins, meeting minutes, science topics, and, as they are written, chapters of the Environmental Impact Statement.
LOCAL INFORMATION CENTERS - Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offices throughout eastern Oregon and Washington are currently in the process of setting up local information centers. Most offices will have project related documents available in a binder for copying. Some info centers may also be available at local libraries and other publicly accessible places.
TOLL-FREE NUMBER - This telephone number is not yet available. When the system is fully installed, there will be two incoming phone lines and a menu offering up-to-the-minute project information and an opportunity to talk with a person knowledgeable about the project.
Jeff Blackwood, Project Manager and Tom Quigley, Science Integration Team Leader made presentations in just one portion of a three-part program at two public workshops recently held in Idaho. These meetings were sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.
The goal of these meetings was to set the stage for building relationships and developing a better understanding of the Eastside Ecosystem Management Project, the Columbia River Basin Scientific Assessment, and the Pacific Fisheries Study (PACFISH). Those on the agenda explained how these efforts will complement and support each other. Almost 150 people attended the meetings in Boise and Lewiston.
On March 28, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Team held a working session at which about 30 interested public participants observed their deliberations and had opportunities to discuss the draft Purpose and Need Statement. This meeting was open to anyone interested in participating. This statement briefly describes the need to develop an EIS for forest and range lands in eastern Oregon and Washington managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Also discussed at the March 28th meeting was identification of some of the issues to help determine what further expertise may be needed on the teams. In a brainstorming exercise, the public participants shared potential issues they felt needed to be addressed in the decision making process. These issues will be shared with the general public. Further identification of issues will be developed during public scoping meetings to be held in May.
The second draft of the Purpose and Need Statement will be discussed at an open EIS Team meeting on Wednesday April 20. This will be an EIS Team working session open for public observation with an EIS participation session later in the afternoon.
The Project Team is planning several meeting throughout eastern Oregon and Washington in late May that will focus on the development of the EIS. Specific dates and locations of these meetings will be listed in the next newsletter.
The working draft of the Ecosystem Management Framework is the first science document to be produced by the Science Integration Team. The Ecosystem Management Framework, is due to be released in Working Draft form on May 1. The Framework will include principles and processes for developing a scientifically sound, ecosystem based strategy within the Interior Columbia River Basin. The Ecosystem Management Framework outlines potential processes or approaches one might go through to examine interrelationships to identify components or mechanisms which may be used. The Science Integration Team has worked hard to bring fresh perspectives and understanding to the Framework. This effort involved over 60 individuals representing disciplines from throughout the United States in addition to valued input from the general public. The Framework will remain in a working draft form, thus keeping it a dynamic, adaptive tool. As new knowledge about ecosystem management is gained in the future, the framework will be adjusted and evolve.
On March 8, as a part of the ongoing communication efforts and public involvement guiding the Eastside Ecosystem Management Project, on March 8, Forest Supervisors and BLM District Managers travelled to Walla Walla from National Forests and BLM Districts in eastern Oregon and Washington to spend the day with the Project Team. The day provided excellent interaction with the Science Integration Team, including portions of interaction with the public. The discussion centered on the task of determining data collection needs from throughout the Interior Columbia River Basin.
Managers, scientists, and the public talked about policy issues to be addressed through the project efforts. The role of the scientists is to evaluate the best data available about the land. Based on that evaluation they will draw scientific conclusions and make recommendations to the land managers. Managers will then consider these scientific recommendations and, through a full level of public involvement, come to make sound land management decisions.
One topic of discussion was that the Eastside Project is charged with developing a long term approach towards managing lands in a scientifically sound, and ecosystem-based way. However, throughout this process, National Forest Plans and BLM Resource Management Plans and additional interim direction remain in effect. Current federal management activities on the ground will continue while the scientific processes and environmental impact statement development is undertaken through this project.