Economic and Social Conditions of Communities
Questions and Answers


1. How is this analysis different from the one presented in the Draft EISs?

This report, Economic and Social Conditions of Communities, generally is a refinement of the descriptions and analyses presented in the Draft EISs. It augments the information already presented at the county and regional levels by adding another level of interpretation, the community level. The community-level results expressed in this report do not change the effects that were described for the county and regional levels discussed in the Draft EISs.

2. How does this report meet the congressional direction expressed in the 1998 Interior Appropriations Bill?

Part 323(b) of the Appropriations Bill directs the ICBEMP "to the extent practicable, [to] analyze the economic and social conditions, and culture and customs, of the communities at the subbasin level within the Project area and the impacts the alternatives in the draft EISs will have on those communities." In response, this report includes: (1) a community-level analysis of economic and social characteristics of communities in the interior Columbia Basin, and (2) an estimate of effects of the alternatives on communities.

The economic and social characteristics part of the report (Part 1) includes the following information:

A social and economic characterization of 543 communities in the interior Columbia Basin (with subbasins identified for each community, Table 1-2); An identification of towns that are and are not geographically isolated from larger cities; A profile of the specialized industries in each of 423 interior Columbia Basin towns (based on percent employment in 12 broad industry groups); An identification of 16 community categories that are used to describe and compare towns with different attributes and industry specializations; and Tables, figures, and maps for readers to investigate additional questions.

The effects analysis portion of this report (Part 2) presents:

An overview of past community changes in the interior Columbia Basin; An assessment of possible impacts of implementing each of the Draft EIS alternatives on categories of economically specialized communities; and A discussion of cumulative impacts.

The report responds to congressional direction to include local "custom and culture" information through the concepts of isolation, proximity to Federal land, and industry specialization; these are all concepts that relate to the custom and culture of a certain area.

Part 323(a) of the Interior Appropriations Bill also contains direction related to: planning, policy, and project decisions; estimations of time and cost to accomplish the decisions; estimated production of goods and services for the first five years; and decision-making priorities regarding appropriations. Response to this portion of congressional direction will be completed prior to the completion of the Final EIS and the Record of Decision.

3. Will this affect the timeline to complete this project? If so, when do you see it coming to a conclusion?

In order to provide the public with adequate and reasonable time to read and comment on this report, we have extended the public comment period for the Draft EISs from February 6, 1998, to May 6, 1998. Other than the comment period extension, release of this report is not expected to further affect the project timeline. Completion of the Final EIS and issuance of the Record of Decision are still expected in 1999.

4. Does this report tell me how many jobs will be affected in my community?

No. The report discusses the estimated effects of the ICBEMP alternatives on economic and social trends in types of communities in the project area. It does not provide specific numbers of jobs affected by the EIS alternatives in specific communities or drainages. The specific number of jobs in a community depends on many factors, not all of which are related to the Draft EIS alternatives (see question #5 below).

5. Why ISN'T the report more specific about the impacts on individual communities?

We cannot provide with any degree of certainty, location-specific impacts of the Draft EIS alternatives. In large part this is because the Draft EIS alternatives themselves are not location-specific; by design the alternatives provide broad-based management direction to frame or guide local decisions. Those local decisions will continue to be made with the involvement of community citizens, governments, and interest groups. The specific effects of local decisions, such as the number and kinds of jobs affected, can be estimated only at the time those decisions are made.

Furthermore, there are limitations on the kinds of data available to prepare an economic and social report of impacts on individual communities from broad-scale management direction over such a large area, making it appropriate to discuss categories and trends but not specific characteristics and effects. For example, in some industries, employment data are not commonly gathered or reported in the kind of detail that would enable more specific characterizations and effects projections to be made.

6. How will this information be used in the Final EIS?

This information will be considered by the EIS Team in the preparation of the Final EIS, along with other concerns expressed during the public comment period on the Draft EISs. The selected alternative announced in the Record of Decision will be based on consideration of all aspects of the Final EIS analysis, including the social and economic effects of the alternatives on communities.

Details of the report

7. How can we interpret this information to get an accurate picture of the economic importance of recreation on public lands?

Recreation was identified in the Draft EISs as an important employment sector and generator of income. Chapter 2 of the Draft EISs identifies that the project area provides recreational opportunities of local, regional, national, and international importance and federal lands within the basin supply substantially greater amounts of available outdoor recreation opportunities when compared to the national average.

The Economic and Social Conditions of Communities Report used employment data to characterize the industry specialization for 423 communities in the basin. Since recreation is not classified or measured as a standard industry category, neither employment nor income data are regularly collected. Without these data, the recreation 'industry' is left out of the specialization analysis completed for Part 1 of this report.

The absence of a specialization analysis for the recreation industry does not mean it is not important in some communities; it just means that the data at hand are not adequate to determine such a specialization. However, it was shown that 119 communities have an economic specialization in 'services', and some of the businesses in the services economic sector may depend on Federal lands for nearby recreational opportunities. The economic contribution of recreation uses on Federal lands is acknowledged as being large and growing.

While data were not available to indicate which specific communities rely on BLM- or Forest Service-administered lands for recreation-generated income and employment, Part 2 of this report provides a general discussion on recreation uses and community benefits from recreational opportunities on Federal lands. The analysis of effects on recreation is based on information presented in the Draft EISs and the ICBEMP Evaluation of Alternatives. The Draft EISs identified several counties where recreation and tourism play a large role in county economics and was based on a national study. One of the main conclusions ICBEMP scientists drew from their work, was that recreation use generates far more jobs that other uses of Forest Service- and BLM administered lands. Recreation provided by these public lands contributed about 15 percent of total jobs, area-wide. It is expected that communities within these 'recreation counties' may be among those most affected by changes in recreation supplied by Forest Service- and BLM-administered lands. Using this general approach, this report presents overall effects on recreation activities by alternative, and the general socio-economic effects that may be experienced under implementation of each alternative.

8. Why does the report focus on whether a community is 'isolated' or not? In this technological age of instant telecommunications, isolation seems to be an outdated concept.

Economic development specialists generally agree that smaller communities geographically isolated from larger population centers have fewer economic choices than more populated areas. They are less likely to be economically diverse and more likely to depend heavily on a few major industries for their economic prosperity. Isolation has long been a factor studied in regard to resource dependence issues and continues to be raised as an important consideration in rural areas. For the purposes of this study, we defined 'isolated' communities by their distance from larger cities. The specific method used to define isolation is called the 'city circle method', described in Part 1 of the report.

9. Why were only certain industries discussed in this report? There are other industries and businesses out there besides agriculture, timber, mining, Federal Government employment, and recreation.

Part 1 of the report discusses 12 industry categories, which represent a condensation of 22 industry categories measured by C. Harris in his 1996 study, Rural Communities in the Inland Northwest: Characteristics of Small Communities in the Interior and Upper Columbia River Basins. The 12 categories are very broad, each encompassing numerous more specifically defined industries. For example, the category of 'agriculture' includes grazing, crops, fishing, hunting, trapping, and forestry. The industry categories for which study findings were most prominent included: agriculture, agriculture services, wood products manufacturing, mining, and Federal Government; over 70 percent of the communities in the interior Columbia Basin are most specialized in one of these five industry categories.

The agriculture, wood products manufacturing, mining, and Federal Government industries are also influenced more directly than many others by Federal land management decisions. Therefore, the effects analysis in Part 2 focused on these categories. Agriculture is further refined in Part 2 to highlight grazing in particular; the Federal Government category is also refined by focusing on BLM and Forest Service employment. In addition, because publicly owned Federal lands in the interior Columbia Basin provide very large recreation benefits to residents and visitors, a general analysis of effects of the alternatives on recreation is also included in Part 2. The cumulative effects analysis in this report incorporates additional categories and economic specializations.

10. Why were only certain communities included in this report? You talk about 543 communities in the project area... but only about a dozen towns are used as examples when discussing effects, and my town isn't even ON the list of 543 communities.

The vast majority of communities in the 98 counties and seven states in the project area were characterized in Part 1 of the report. The list of 543 communities is provided on Table 1-2, beginning on page 31. The list was compiled from data collected for the 1996 Harris study, Rural Communities in the Inland Northwest: Characteristics of Small Communities in the Interior and Upper Columbia River Basins, and the ICBEMP project's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database. A few towns do not appear on the list because of limitations in the database. Among the 543 communities that are listed on Table 1-2, employment data were available for only 423 communities, so the detailed analysis of industry specialization is presented only for those communities (see Table 1-3, beginning on page 49). Examples of communities of various types were then used to illustrate the effects analysis in Part 2 of the report; full lists of communities in each category are provided on Tables 2-7 through 2-10, beginning on page 101. Any community not on the lists should be able to identify social and economic features of listed communities comparable to its own and estimate the likely effects of the Draft EIS alternatives based on similarity to listed or example communities.

11. How old is this information, and how accurate is it? Things are changing so fast, some of the information already looks out of date.

The report is based, in large part, on data collected as part of a study by C. Harris, Rural Communities in the Inland Northwest: Characteristics of Small Communities in the Interior and Upper Columbia River Basins (1996), on the ICBEMP Scientific Assessment (1997), and the ICBEMP Evaluation of Alternatives (1997). Additional information for Part 2 of the report was derived from a report by L. Frewing-Runyon, Importance and Dependency of the Livestock Industry on Federal Lands in the Columbia River Basin (1995). Community employment data were collected in 1995. BEA employment data were based on a projection of 1993 employment data to 1995. (The BEA does not report employment data every year. Employment data for the in-between years are projected.) Employment data for wood products manufacturing were provided by the State offices that compile labor statistics for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The most current data were used (either 1993 or 1994 depending on the State.)

The report describes economic conditions at the time the data were collected. But economic conditions can change quickly, and findings for particular towns may be different now than they were in 1995. For example, Joseph and Hines, Oregon, are shown as being specialized in wood products manufacturing, but wood products employment in these communities has decreased since the data were collected.

Still, such data are appropriate for the kinds of characterizations and effects analysis in this report, which are based on types of communities and trends of economic and social conditions rather than on specific characterizations of every individual town. The information is sufficiently reliable for providing a relative comparison of alternatives that will allow the decision makers to understand how the alternatives could affect communities and counties differently.

12. What's the difference between 'industry specialization' as presented in this report, and 'resource-dependency' as discussed in the Draft EISs?

The relationship of an industry to the economic and social welfare of communities in which it exists has often been framed in terms of a 'community dependence' on that industry. The Draft EISs discussed 'resource dependency' primarily with respect to timber dependency, commonly put in the context of 'timber-dependent communities' (see Chapter 2 of the Draft EISs). Resource dependency was defined in the Draft EISs generally by looking at the size of a community and the percent of employment associated with timber harvest and processing. Some 29 communities with small populations, 'dependent' on timber and located in counties with low population densities, were considered to be most at risk to changes in Federal forest policy.

This report provides additional analysis and insights into the industry-community relationship. This study does not judge whether a community is or is not dependent on any industry. Rather, it identifies the industries in which a community is specialized and the extent of that specialization. Specialization in an industry indicates that the industry is a basic or 'export' business that contributes jobs and income important to a community. Planners and policy makers can use this specialization analysis along with other pertinent information to address issues of economic concern, such as resource dependence, economic diversity, or the performance of important basic industries.

13. Does this report clarify the relationship between Federal lands and interior Columbia Basin communities?

This report makes an effort to describe how the use and condition of Forest Service- and BLM-administered lands could affect the economic and social conditions of communities. Part 1 of the report describes the economic contributions of Forest Service- and BLM-administered lands to a variety of uses. It calculates the percent of lands administered by the Forest Service and BLM near communities and explores the implications of this relationship. It also identifies communities with Forest Service and BLM offices, and discusses the economic and social contributions of those offices to communities. In Part 2, we present an analysis of how the Draft EIS alternatives might affect communities through impacts on employment of Federal agency staff and contractors hired to manage Federal lands.

14. What are you trying to do with this--are you trying to prioritize one town above another?

No prioritizing of one community over another is intended. This analysis provides general characteristics and an estimate of relative effects of the alternatives on project area communities. The numbering of communities from 1 to 543 in Tables 1-2 and 1-3 was a random numbering system for reference purposes and has no connection to an attempt to prioritize communities.

15. How can we interpret this information to get an accurate picture of the importance of the livestock industry and ranching jobs? In this report, grazing is lumped under the industry specialization called 'agriculture', and it gets lost in the overall discussion of economic and social contributions to the community.

The analysis in Part 1 of the report is based on a certain methodology to determine which industries in each community are 'specialized'. The broad industry categories used in the analysis--which were derived from data collected as part of the 1996 study Rural Communities in the Inland Northwest: Characteristics of Small Communities in the Interior and Upper Columbia River Basins--often contain a number of specific industries under a broader umbrella. The agriculture category, for example, includes both agriculture crops and agriculture livestock, or grazing. The data reported that 266 communities are specialized in agriculture, but because employment in the livestock industry was not collected apart from the larger agriculture industry, an analysis of employment specialization for the livestock industry could not be done for Part 1 of the report.

In Part 2 of the report, additional information was used to analyze the effects of the alternatives on the grazing component of the agriculture category. Many of the 266 agriculture-specialized communities have strong grazing components with some, but not all, linked to Federal land grazing permits. The effects analysis added the portion of total livestock forage requirements gained from Federal lands, derived from an additional 1995 study by L. Frewing-Runyon, Importance and Dependency of the Livestock Industry on Federal Lands in the Columbia River Basin. This information was estimated at the county level, not the community level, so some of the communities listed as having a Forest Service or BLM grazing component may not be associated with Federal forage use but lie within a county that does. Using this methodology, Part 2 presents an approximation of the socio-economic effects of the alternatives on grazing activities and on grazing specialized communities in the interior Columbia Basin.

16. Does this report explain what would happen to economic and social conditions in the long term if the ICBEMP project were not implemented?

The economic and social effects presented for Alternatives 1 and 2 both in the Draft EISs and in this report provide an estimate of what could be expected if current management strategies were maintained. In general, the lack of a coordinated, scientifically sound, ecosystem-based management approach would be expected to result in long-term declines in management activity levels on BLM- and Forest Service-administered lands, along with a reduced number of jobs associated with timber, recreation, grazing, and restoration; reduced predictability of goods and services; and increased risks to property from wildfires and insects/disease.

17. How can this information be used by communities in making future planning decisions?

The additional information provided in this report can assist communities in future planning efforts. For example, it can help a community adjust to future changes in management activities on nearby national forests and BLM districts, based on whether the community is isolated or not, what their industry specializations are, and how closely associated they are with BLM- and Forest Service-administered lands. This information should be useful for economic development and planning at the community level and may help communities set their own priorities for the future.

18. What are the effects on American Indian Communities?

Communities associated with American Indian reservations are most specialized in agriculture, wood products manufacturing, federal government, and agriculture services. Effects on these communities are the same as non-Indian communities for these industry specializations except for Federal government. Federal employment with the Bureau of Indian Affairs may be a bigger factor that Forest Service and BLM employment.

In addition, the effects of land use changes on Forest Service and BLM land to American Indian communities is not well captured in an "industry specialization" analysis. The greatest "economic and social effect" to American Indian Communities is through access to customary use areas, harvestability of customary resources (salmon, roots, berries, etc.), cultural and spiritual uses.

19. If the industry specialization is not a good mechanism for capturing effects of land use change on communities on or near reservations, how will the ICBEMP estimate the effects?

Because each tribe is a distinct sovereign entity, the unique rights and interests of each tribe must first be identified and considered. The impact to the tribal community is then based on how these rights and interests are affected. The industry specialization analysis does provide the effects of customary commodity oriented used such as agriculture and wood products manufacturing which are important in varying degrees to tribes.

20. How can we obtain the studies used for this report, to evaluate them for ourselves?

In addition to the Draft EISs, this report relies on several social and economic studies, which are listed along with the publication details in the Literature Cited sections of both Part 1 and Part 2. Chief among the studies cited are: the social and economics chapters of the ICBEMP Science Integration Team's documents, Assessment of Ecosystem Components in the Interior Columbia Basin and Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins (Quigley and Arbelbide 1997) and Evaluation of EIS Alternatives (Quigley, Lee, and Arbelbide 1997); and data collected as part of two contract reports prepared for the ICBEMP, Chuck Harris's Rural Communities in the Inland Northwest: Characteristics of Small Communities in the Interior and Upper Columbia River Basins (1996), and Leslie Frewing-Runyon's Importance and Dependency of the Livestock Industry on Federal lands in the Columbia River Basin (1995). These documents can be obtained or viewed by calling the ICBEMP project office in Walla Walla, WA, tel. (509)522-4030, tty (509)522-4029. The Draft EISs also may be viewed on the project homepage,

21. Where is funding for implementation? With agency downsizing and budget restraint, how do you feel that this can be implemented without a negative impact on communities and the different industries or user groups? What are the impacts without full funding?

The added costs depend on the alternative in question. The action alternatives (#3-7) were developed to show the costs associated with restoration. An interagency budget strategy has been developed. If full funding does not occur, the rate of implementation will be decreased appropriately and proportionately.

22. The industry specialization ratings shown in Table 1-3 of the report do not seem correct for a community with which I am familiar. Might some of these ratings be incorrect?

In any classification system, there is a chance for error. In this study, industry specialization is based on percent employment in each industry. The percent employment for the 423 communities was determined by disaggregating existing county employment data to communities using phone book business listings. Like any indirect procedure for measuring something, it is not perfect. Commuting patterns can affect the accuracy of employment estimates. Accuracy may differ for suburban communities surrounding larger cities versus communities that don't experience a suburb-to-city commuting pattern. In rural areas, businesses (and jobs) may be located many miles from the town used in the business address.

Broad Standard Industry Classification (SIC) categories used in this study can also affect results by masking finer scale industry categories that may be locally important. As noted in the report, specialization in some industries (notably recreation) cannot be determined using standard employment categories. Finally, the percent employment for an industry in a community can change year to year, sometimes dramatically. Even with these potential sources of error, preliminary reviews have shown study results to accurately represent industry specialization in communities across the interior Columbia Basin. While it is inevitable that a few communities will be misclassified, the majority of communities appear to be described correctly. The very large number of communities measured improves our confidence that overall study results are accurate.

23. Is there an opportunity to comment on these ratings so that corrections can be made if necessary?

Yes, there is an opportunity to comment. The report is being offered for public review and comment during the comment period for the Draft EISs that ends May 6, 1998. Responses will be used to assess the accuracy of study findings and to determine whether there is a need for follow-up analysis.