NEWSLETTER OF THE INTERIOR COLUMBIA BASIN ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT
EVALUATING AND IMPLEMENTING ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT
"We need to focus on issues that can not be resolved at the local level so we can get back to implementing projects efficiently and predictably."
The human dimension is a component of ecosystem management that one doesn't hear much about. Many of us are familiar with how the trees and the fish fit into ecosystem management, but how are people considered in the process? The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project is breaking new ground by considering people as an integral part of the ecosystem. "This can be tough," says Stewart Allen, social scientist on the Eastside Environmental Impact Statement Team, "but it just makes sense to work people and their values into the ecosystem equation." "My role is to be an advocate for the people," says Allen. He brings a diverse background in recreation management, social science, and natural resource planning efforts to the team. He has worked for a number of agencies during his career including the Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. He has participated in developing more than 20 environmental impact statements. "Every issue in an Environmental Impact Statement is really a social issue," says Allen. The concept of ecosystem management itself represents a human value. Society values resources in many ways, and there is measurable value even if no use of the resource occurs. "You can't ignore these substantial values just because no money changes hands."
The Social Science Team on the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project is collecting data on a number of factors concerning the human dimension. Allen is the liaison between the Social Science staff area and the Eastside EIS Team. One important factor in Social Science is the issue of "sense of place". This is defined as places that are considered "special" by people. Places that have meaning and play a role in communities or society are special places. For example, Yellowstone National Park or the Columbia River Gorge would be special places to many people. Special places at a smaller scale will also be recognized as ecosystem management strategies are developed. "We will consider special places explicitly. Ecosystem mangement must be aware of, and recognize these special places," says Allen.
Economic issues are directly linked to social issues, and this will be a focus of social science team members. "Small towns inherently have less resiliency because they tend to count on smaller economic bases," says Allen. The majority of communities in the Basin are small, rural towns and this will be a focus of both the economic and social teams as the project moves forward. A community's economic viability and integrity are critical concerns of ecosystem management. Alternatives developed for the Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin EISs will be designed to improve the health of rural communities, as well as the health of forest stands, riparian areas, and rangelands.
Allen recognizes that there will always be some conflict associated with public land management due to a diverse and involved society. In the past, says Allen, "resource managers often tried to avoid controversy - a strategy guaranteed to offend everyone. Too often, forest health and social health are viewed as incompatible. This doesn't make sense from an ecosystem perspective. We must be successful in improving society's well-being through the many social and economic benefits of public land management."
The challenge of ecosystem management is to find "win-win" solutions where sides who once opposed each other all gain something significant from how public lands are managed. There are many examples, says Allen, of how gridlocks are reconciled when people get together and talk about possible solutions. This melding of social issues with sound scientific understanding of resource and social problems is the key to developing a workable ecosystem management strategy.
The public is invited to attend a Symposium on the Social Implications of Ecosystem Management on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ridpath Hotel in Spokane, Washington.
Members of the Social Science staff area and other leading social scientists from the Pacific Northwest have completed research on the role of humans in the ecosystem of the interior Columbia River Basin. Their findings will be presented to the public, with opportunities to ask questions and discuss research findings with the scientists. The Symposium will consist of an introductory session in the morning, and concurrent sessions and concluding remarks in the afternoon. Symposium topics include: small communities in the interior Columbia Basin, American Indian traditions and tribal governments in the Basin, supply of recreation opportunities and scenic resources, stakeholder and occupational interest groups working in the Basin, and the behaviors of civic institutions.
The Symposium is free and open to the public. The Ridpath Hotel is located at 515 West Sprague Avenue in downtown Spokane. Persons wishing to attend should call the Project office in Walla Walla at (509)522-4030.
Over the winter months, the Tribal Liaison Group (TLG) met with representatives of Tribal Governments that may be affected by the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP). The contacts were to offer Tribal Governments the opportunity to be involved in the Scientific Assessments and the ICBEMP Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) at an early stage in their development.
Meetings have been held with ten Tribes and Bands within the interior Columbia River Basin. Most of these meetings have been held with Tribal Executive Committees or Councils and Tribal Resource staff. Numerous topics of interest have been gathered from the Tribes, including:
In addition to the briefing meetings, George Pozzuto and Elaine Zieroth from the Eastside Environmental Impact Statement Team, met with the Yakama Nation Resources Staff on March 17, 1995. The purpose was to discuss the Preliminary Concepts for the Development of Alternatives Paper and the draft Social Assessment Report on American Indian interests compiled by Dr. Richard Hanes. This is part of a formal consultation process where official government-to-government mutual exchange of ideas, feelings, and perceptions take place. As the process evolves, a formal consultation takes place when the Tribal Governing body and the deciding officials address issues.
The Nez Perce Tribe was the second Tribe to meet in a government-to-government formal consultation with ICBEMP deciding officials, which took place on March 31, 1995. The deciding officials are the Regional Foresters for Regions 1, 4, and 6, and and the BLM State Directors with jurisdiction over Federal Lands within the Nez Perce ceded lands.
If you have questions or would like further information from the Tribal Liaison Group, you may contact Ralph Perkins at the Walla Walla office, 509-522-4044; Richard Hanes, BLM/Science team/Tribal Coordinator, 503-952-6065; or Andy Brunelle, Inter-governmental Coordinator with the Upper Columbia River Basin EIS Team in Boise, 208-334-1770, ext. 146.
The Upper Columbia River Basin Environmental Impact Statement scoping meeting was held at Boise State University and aired live via satellite simultaneously in 27 cities on January 28, 1995. It would have taken the EIS team preparing the EIS almost two months to visit that many cities within the Upper Columbia River Basin to gather public input for the EIS.
The videoconference was also televised on three public access networks and later televised in the Idaho towns of Salmon and Challis, reaching over 1,000 participants. The satellite coordinates were also published so that any town within the continental United States could view the videoconference.
The goal of the videoconference was to explain the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project and to gather comments from communities within the Upper Columbia River Basin. Issues and questions were sent electronically to Boise, some of which were discussed during the afternoon session.
More than 5,000 comments have been received on the Upper Columbia River Basin EIS to date. Comments and suggestions are welcome throughout the project and should be sent to the Upper Columbia River Basin office in Boise.
Copies of the video are available from local Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service offices within the Project boundaries. Copies can also be requested from Project offices in Boise and Walla Walla.
Release of the Draft Scientific Framework for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia Basin has been delayed until November 1995. Most recently scheduled to be released in August 1995, the delay will allow scientists to focus on the Scientific Assessment, which will be released this fall.
The Draft Framework will have an independent review by a variety of public and private sector scientists before being released in November. Last year, two working draft versions of the Scientific Framework (May and October of 1994) were made available to the public. Comments received on those versions have been reviewed by the team of scientists working on the Framework.
The latest version of the Framework (Version 3) has been revised to reflect many of the comments. There are no plans to distribute Working Draft-Version 3 of the Framework. However, copies may be obtained from Walla Walla Xerographic by calling 509-522-5401 or by contacting them at 2 East Rose Street, Walla Walla, Washington 99362. There is a duplication and processing fee of $8.05 for the Framework which includes shipping, handling, and WA state sales tax. Walla Walla Xerographic will accept checks, VISA, and Mastercard.
The Science Integration Team recently made a decision not to complete the computer modeling at the mid-scale level for either the Scientific Assessment or the Environmental Impact Statements in the Interior Columbia Basin. The Team origially intended to use a newly developed simulation model called the Columbia River Basin Succession Model (CRBSUM) to provide projections of future conditions of landscape patterns, vegetation conditions, disturbance elements including insect and disease, and fire risk for use in the Scientific Assessment and the two EISs.
In mid-March, after several discussions, the Team realized that because of delays in the availablilty of data and many unforeseen difficulties in the development of this new model, the actual timing for making the mid-scale model runs would be mid-May. This would mean a delay in the delivery of the Draft EISs. The Project's Core Team felt that extending the timeline to accommodate the CRBSUM mid-scale runs, which would in turn increase the cost, was not a viable option.
In order to obtain the mid-scale information needed, the Landscape Ecology staff will be projecting future conditions through an interpretation of information based on data that was taken in subsamples throughout the basin. This will provide for discussions and possible interpretation about potential outcomes that could result from the various EIS alternatives.
The mid-scale data can be modeled thru CRBSUM during the implementation stages of the Environmental Impact Statements to provide local land managers with valuable information about future predicted conditions of the ecosystem at the mid-scale. For example, the Colville and Idaho Panhandle National Forests might use the models from northeast Washington and northern Idaho to project possible risk and disturbance processes as they relate to potential projects within their area.
The Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Teams will be mailing a preliminary list of goals for alternatives in early May. The goals are just one aspect of building alternatives. People will have until the end of May to review and provide feedback to the Teams.
Goals describe what it is we want to do. They are derived from statements made in the Purpose and Need statement, and from the issues identified from public scoping.
In addition, the Team developing the two EISs plan to share information on draft alternatives as they are being developed over the next two to three months.