"Our evolving knowledge of how ecosystems function will expand our collective capabilities to address these complex problems."
The Eastside Ecosystem Management Project has shifted back to its original name as stated in the project charter: Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project. With the addition of the Upper Columbia River Basin Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Team, some confusion arose to the reference of "Eastside" which was a shortened version of the orginal name. The Project includes the Science Integration Team and both Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin EIS teams. This shift should better reflect the geographic scope of the Project that includes Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management managed lands in all or part of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Eastside Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Team is currently working on several tasks. Many of the Team members are working with the Science Integration Team (SIT) staff areas to prepare the Scientific Assessment of the Interior Columbia River Basin. Their work with the Science Team will assure important findings from the Scientific Assessment are incorporated into the Draft Eastside EIS, due out in the fall of 1995.
The Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin EIS Teams are working together to develop a Purpose and Need Statement and a Proposed Action for their respective EISs. The Purpose and Need Statement describes why an action is needed and the Proposed Action describes what action is being proposed to meet the need. When the Eastside EIS Team did their scoping this past spring, the Purpose and Need Statement was very general. The new versions will give more detail as to why land management changes are needed and what types of changes are being proposed. Copies of these items should be available to the public in January.
The Eastside EIS Team is also beginning to develop alternatives. The first step has been to develop an outline about what should be included in an alternative description, and the level of detail needed. The "No Action" alternative, is the first alternative the Team has worked on. The "No Action" alternative describes current land management direction, proposes that it continue into the future without change, and discloses the likely outcomes of that strategy. Draft alternative information will be shared in February.
The analysis and summary of the 3,157 scoping comments from the public, and the identification of the issues for the Eastside EIS is complete. The Eastside EIS Issues paper has been mailed to the project mailing list and copies of the paper can be obtained by calling the Project office at 509-522-4030.
The Boise-based Upper Columbia River Basin EIS Team is getting up to speed. The team consists of 22 members, most of whom have reported for duty and working earnestly to catch up with their counterparts in Walla Walla.
Here's a sketch of the principal players:
The Boise Team's mission is to develop a scientifically sound and ecosystem-based EIS for lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that are within the Upper Columbia River Basin in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. The EIS will be developed using information from the "Scientific Framework for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia River Basin", and other information.
The end result of the Upper Columbia River Basin EIS will lead to decisions about management of National Forest System and BLM public lands in all or parts of the Upper Columbia River Basin. This direction could include desired ranges of future conditions for ecosystems, as well as management standards and guidelines.
Information about the project may be obtained by calling (208) 334-1770 or by writing the team at 304 N. 8th St., Room 246, Boise, ID 83702.
People wanting information on the Interior Columbia Basin Project can review documents relating to the project, the Science Process, and general background information at many Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offices located throughout the Columbia River Basin. These documents are kept in information binders which contain documents such as the Eastside Charter, Team organization, Biographies, Newsletters, News Releases, Public Workshops, Science Meeting Minutes, Ecosystem Management Framework, and Scientific Assessment among others. Periodically, these information binders are updated with new or amended documents. Interested persons may also make copies of documents as needed from these information binders. Contact your local BLM or Forest Service office to find out the location of the binder nearest you.
Much of the same information can also be obtained by downloading from the Project's Electronic Library. This method is available to personal computer users with communication software and a modem with a baud rate of up to 9600 (8,1,N) at 509-522-4085. A recorded message providing project updates and upcoming meeting information is available by calling 1-800-599-8926.
On Wednesday, October 5, approximately 50 members of the public accompanied several members of the Science Integration Team on our first mutual learning field trip titled Ecosystems: Patterns and Processes. The group visited the site of the Boundary Fire which burned over 11,000 acres on the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests this summer.
Everyone who attended felt that the trip was successful in meeting the objectives of working toward a better understanding and knowledge of ecosystem processes and of providing a field setting for an open discussion between the public and project scientists.
At the first stop of the day, Tower Mountain, located about 25 miles southwest of La Grande, Oregon, the group overlooked a roadless area where a mosiac of burned patches was observed. The discussion was centered on landscape patterns and disturbance processes.
One of the discussion leaders, Wendel Hann, Landscape Ecology staff Co-Leader talked about geological and climatic influences that affect the Blue Mountains. "It's productive country when you've got the moisture, but it's real tough in the summertime," said Hann. "The vegetation here is always caught by surprise. Anyway you look at it, fire is going to be a driving influence on the landscape."
Tom Quigley, Science Integration Team Leader reminded participants that the Blue Mountains are only a small part of the 144 million acres the team is assessing. "We need to step back and look at the broad scale and try to understand how this piece fits into the big picture."
After a very chilly lunch hour spent huddling in the busses, the group traveled to Little Fly Creek where they talked about the role of riparian areas in the ecosystem and the historical perspective of fire in riparian areas.
Although many questions were asked about how resource managers plan to respond to this summer's fires, Quigley took the opportunity to state that the goal of the Science Integration Team is not to address site specific questions, but to complete a Scientific Assessment of the lands in the interior Columbia River Basin and provide information to managers so that informed decisions can be made.
The Interior Columbia Basin Project plans to sponsor additional mutual learning field trips next spring at other locations. Further information on these and other mutual learning activities will be included in future editions of the Eastside Edge.
An error occured in the printing of An Ecological Reader: A Scientific Framework for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia River Basin. This document was mailed to the project mailing list in October. The error was on the center pages (pages 3 and 4) in the sequence of the General Planning Model. In the December edition of the Eastside Edge that is mailed hard copy, a corrected version of the center pages (pages 3 and 4) is inserted. Those employees receiving the Eastside Edge electronically may request the corrected page or the entire document by calling the project office at 509-522-4030.
The Tribal Liaison Group has kept a steady pace in reaching out to the 20 Tribes within the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Scientific Assessment boundaries. The purpose of these contacts to establish a Government to Government relationship with each Tribal Government to address how each Tribe would like to be involved in the EIS and Scientific Assessment Processes.
Since the Tribal Liaison Group was initiated in July '94 to support the work of project Tribal Liaison, Ralph Perkins, there has been a concerted effort by all the group members to establish correspondence and schedule meetings with Tribal representatives of all the Tribes with the following objectives: 1) Update of Project Status, 2) Updating their Issues and Concerns and Technical Data Exchanges, and 3) Coordinating the Formal Consultation Process between Tribal Representatives and the Deciding Officials.
Information meetings with Tribal Representatives conducted thus far include: The Burns Paiute Tribe, Confederated Tribes of the Colville, The Klamath Tribe, The Kalispel Indian Community, The Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, The Spokane Tribe, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation.
The Tribal Liaison Group has scheduled informational meetings in November and December with representatives of the Blackfeet Nation and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall. The Tribes that remain to schedule informational meetings include: The Fort Bidwell Paiute Tribe, Fort McDermitt Paiute, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Northwest Band of Shoshoni Nation.
In addition, the Tribal Liaison Group is making biweekly contacts by phone with as many of the Tribes as possible to maintain a dialog and answer questions that may come up concerning the Environmental Impact Statement and Scientific Assessment Processes.
Recently, a fifth member was added to the Tribal Liaison Group. Mary Keith, an Archeologist from the Heppner District of the Umatilla National Forest has been detailed to the project. She is providing needed skills in developing a process for Geographic Information System (GIS) Data exchanges with some of the Tribes and is helping gather information for each Tribe to incorporate into a Tribal Information Directory.
There might be other small Tribes and Bands that are not being included in this Tribal involvement process. If you have knowledge of a group that is not included in the above mentioned groups, please contact any member of the Tribal Liaison Group at the Project headquarters at 509-522-4030.