July 9, 1997 Teleconference ~ Questions and Answers




Outline of Topics

Who's Involved, What Area Is Involved? Development of the Draft EISs
Private Lands Project Decisions
Local Input and Influence Local Variability, "One Size Fits All"
Public Confidence Legal Matters
Other Planning Efforts Collaboration
Public Involvement Active Management
Natural Systems Restoration
Prescribed Burning and Air Quality Forests and Timber Harvest
Roads and Roadless Areas Rangelands and Noxious Weeds
Wildlife Riparian Systems, Fisheries
Economics Costs of Implementation and Agency Budgets



Questions that seem to be similar are grouped under a summary question marked with **.


WHO'S INVOLVED, WHAT AREA IS INVOLVED?


1. John Day, OR: Is Canada participating in this ecosystem management since they control the headwaters of the Columbia?

Answer: Canada is not a participant. Data on the Columbia River Basin portion within Canada was collected for the Scientific Assessment so that the EIS team could understand the entire landscape and adequately consider cumulative effects of the alternatives. All decisions made as a result of this EIS apply only to Forest Service-or BLM administered lands within the basin.


2. Klamath Falls, OR: A basic principle of studying or assessing ecosystems is to always look up in scale as well as looking down in scale. We understand that directors and regional foresters as well as forest plans and district plans will be amended, so my question is to what degree the project considers the larger scale beyond the Columbia River Basin? (For example, salmon affected at sea, economic and social effects and controls beyond the region, etc.)

Answer: The Scientific Assessment and the Draft EISs contain information on the biophysical, landscape dynamics, terrestrial, aquatic, economic, and social areas for the lands primarily within the basin. But effects of larger scale factors like climate, are also discussed. Impacts on anadromous salmon and steelhead were looked at in a larger context of influences from dams, harvesting and hatcheries.

3. Pendleton, OR; Why omit that part of the Columbia River Basin west of the Cascade Crest where in Oregon alone, six National Forests and major drainage basins (the Willamette for example) are located?

Answer: The portion of the Columbia River Basin west of the Cascade Mountain Range is covered by the Northwest Forest Plan, adopted in 1994. With such a recent strategy adopted for Federal forests west of the Cascades, there is no need to revisit the decisions at this time.

4. Orofino, ID: Were major private land owners invited to participate and, if so, are they identified?

Answer: The Forest Service and BLM are using a collaborative and coordinated approach to develop the EISs. Private land owners, along with tribes, counties, states and members of the public are participating in the Project. Specific names are not identified.

5. Wenatchee, WA: How does this plan affect the Northwest Forest Plan for Eastside National Forests?

Answer: The planning area for the Eastside EIS overlaps with the easternmost area addressed in the Record of Decision for the Northwest Forest Plan. Map 1-3 in the Eastside Draft EIS shows this overlap. Should conflicts arise between objectives and standards resulting from the ICBEMP and the direction provided by the Northwest Forest Plan, the decisions of Northwest Forest Plan would take precedence. However, we believe that the two plans are complementary to and compatible with each other and we do not anticipate much conflict in direction.

6. Pocatello, ID: Boundaries as outlined in the Columbia River Basin exclude similar conditions in other areas (i.e. Bear River/Bonneville cutthroat country in Southeast Idaho) that should or could be approached and managed similarly to alternatives in the EIS. Is this a possibility and would/could benefits from such an approach be included in monitoring and outcomes for the UCRB?

Answer: Management decisions from the ICBEMP project can and will apply only to Forest Service- or BLM-administered Federal lands within the project area. However, the Scientific Assessment did examine the characteristics and condition of all lands in the interior Columbia River Basin regardless of ownership or management, to help us understand the big picture. This information is available to individuals, states, counties, or anyone that is interested.


DEVELOPMENT OF THE DRAFT EISs


7. John Day, OR: Who determined the objectives, and how are they being interpreted?

Answer: The objectives were written by an interdisciplinary team of Federal employees with the five agencies involved in the project. The objectives were reviewed by the Federal Regional Executives who constitute the ICBEMP Executive Steering Committee before the document was printed. [Rationale statements in Table 3-5 (Objectives and Standards) of the Draft EISs provide a statement of intent for the objectives and standards.]

8. John Day, OR: Who determined the land needed further production and restoration, and restoration to what condition?

Answer: The ICBEMP Scientific Assessment identified the needs for restoration of forest, rangeland, and aquatic systems. The restoration condition varies by each EIS alternative and is found in the Desired Range of Future Conditions (DRFCs) in Chapter 3. These DRFCs were written by the EIS interdisciplinary team. For explanations of what the project means by "restore," "produce," and "conserve," see Chapter 3 sidebars beginning on page 3-3.

9. John Day, OR: Some of the Executive Steering Committee Team decisions and direction will end up being in the implementation plan and not in the Record of Decision (ROD) because the ROD is appealable. Is this correct?

Answer: Decisions concerning how the federal agencies will organize internally, how they will coordinate with other agencies and other governments, and how they will monitor the success or failure of their actions are generally exempt from protest or appeal under agency regulations. These type of decisions will likely be contained in an Implementation Plan that is then referenced in the Record of Decision.

10. Lewiston, ID: Where can the reader find data to support the conclusions stated in Chapter 2 about existing conditions and trends? Examples:

1.) Noxious weeds are spreading rapidly on rangelands in every rangeland cluster.

2.) Soil productivity across the project area is generally stable to declining.

3.) Slow to recover rangelands (in general rangelands which receive less than 12 inches of precipitation) are either highly susceptible to degradation or already dominated by cheatgrass and noxious weeds.

Answer: Data to support conclusions found in Chapter 2 can be found in the Landscape Dynamics chapter of the Assessment of Ecosystem Components in the Interior Columbia Basin and Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins, or the Integrated Assessment for Ecosystem Management, both produced by the ICBEMP Science Integration Team.

11. Okanogan, WA: How does the Eastside Draft Environmental Impact Statement relate to the Forest Service Mission Statement?

Answer: We believe that by addressing the equal needs to (1) restore and maintain long-term ecosystem health and integrity and (2) support economic and social needs, the Eastside and UCRB Draft EISs capture both the spirit and the letter of the Forest Service mission to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people.

12. Okanogan, WA: How will the forests be held accountable for monitoring the implementation of the Final EIS on their forest? Will the forests do their own monitoring?

Answer: National Forests and BLM Districts will do their own monitoring, but in a way which includes coordinating with others and looking at the bigger picture. Objective AM-O2 and standards AM-S3 through AM-S7 in Table 3-5 of the Draft EISs discuss how monitoring and evaluation are to be conducted. An interagency Implementation Team is working on a monitoring framework, but their recommendations will be at a larger scale than individual Forests or Districts.

**What is meant by the terms sustainable, restoration, biodiversity?

13. Kalispell, MT: What is meant by sustainable?

14. Kalispell, MT: Video talks a lot about restoration, what do you mean by restoration?

15. Kalispell, MT: Please define: Sustainable, Biodiversity, Restoration, as used in ICBEMP.

Answer from glossary: The EIS glossary notes that two definitions of sustainability are used in these EISs: (1) meeting the needs of the present without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their needs (this includes producing goods and services over the long term without impairing the productivity of the land); and (2) the yield of a natural resource that can be produced continually at a given intensity of management.

Biological diversity (biodiversity): the variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur.

Restoration: holistic actions taken to modify an ecosystem to achieve desired, healthy, and functioning conditions and processes; it generally refers to the process of enabling the system to resume its resiliency to disturbances. Additional discussion of what the term "restoration" is intended to convey in these documents can be found in Chapter 3, page 3-6, of the Draft EISs.

16. Kalispell, MT: The Scientific Assessment contains conflicting information (for example, motorized viewing will double, access should be cut by 25-50%). How do you balance such conflicting information?

Answer: The Scientific Assessment mostly focused on characterizing social, economic, and ecological information and conditions from historic to current conditions. A few general projections were made into the future. These were mostly centered on socio-economic trends and trends across the landscape. Society is faced with making choices about the future in many areas that might appear to conflict. The demand for roaded recreation access and the desire to reduce adverse ecological impacts from roads is an example. The assessment does not state what "should" be done in regards to potential conflict. Those choices are made through the EIS process and in future decisions.

17. Baker City, OR: The Draft EIS does not adequately reflect the scientific findings by implementing default standards during the period of time before watershed analyses are completed. Will a supplemental Draft EIS be prepared to avoid making changes between the Draft EIS and Final EIS that are too great to be legally defensible?

Answer: A supplement Draft EIS would be issued only if changes are so significant as to warrant additional public review. No supplemental Draft EIS is contemplated at this time.

** How will you avoid "analysis paralysis" so that planning is not disrupted and economic and social needs can be supported?

18. Libby, MT: This process looks like it will halt existing planning until required analysis is completed (i.e., watershed studies). What type of planning disruption is expected with implementation? How does this support the economic and/or social needs of people, cultures, and communities and support predictable and sustainable levels of goods and services from BLM and Forest Service lands?

19. Libby, MT: Analysis paralysis will destroy many communities ability to smoothly transition from the current planning regime just as surely as court ordered injunctions do. What, in these documents, addresses this potential "gap" for our families and communities?

Answer: The subbasin reviews are intended to take only 2-3 weeks (see Table 3-5, EM-O3). We do not expect this review to significantly delay on-the-ground projects. Ecosystem analysis at the watershed scale (EAWS) is a more intensive process that could take 1-4 months to complete depending on the numbers and kinds of issues (see EM-O4). However, we expect that the analyses will support numerous projects within the watersheds that would have required more time-consuming individual analyses otherwise. We are examining ways to streamline the processes and still meet their intent.

These numerous projects along with Objective HU-O3 which calls for producing a mix of goods and services, which can be used to generate economic activity and fulfill other social and cultural needs. And HU-O7 and HU-O8 address how the Forest Service and BLM can contribute to economic diversity consistent with local economic development goals. Through direction such as that provided by objective HU-O1, there will be increased involvement of local people and governments in public land management planning and decision-making.

20. Pocatello, ID: Respond to the contention by some that the preferred alternative doesn't place enough emphasis on improving the environmental health of public lands to attract residents, businesses and jobs to the region that increasingly enjoy and thrive on healthy public lands - the contention that the alternative places too much emphasis on sacrificing the health of the land for logging and grazing, though the relative importance of logging and grazing is declining?

Answer: The Preferred Alternative provides an ecosystem-based strategy that moves away from emphasis on individual components of ecosystems (for example timber and range) to a landscape scale approach. In other words, the strategy provides for managing the whole and not just the parts. Because the Preferred Alternative takes aggressive action to address a variety of issues and problems identified in the Scientific Assessment, it ranks very high, in comparison to the other alternatives, in providing for both short- and long- term landscape health.

The Preferred Alternative aggressively restores ecological integrity and supports economic and social needs of people and communities. The restoration of forest and rangeland ecosystems is compatible with support of communities whether or not the community depends on resources or public lands to attract people.

21. Pocatello, ID: Without considering economics, which alternative would result in greatest environmental health?

Answer: Overall the Preferred Alternative (Alternative 4) would provide greater resilience to stresses such as wildfire, insects and disease, and noxious weeds; it is most responsive to rangeland health issues and needs; and it is one of the highest ranked in improving aquatic and riparian health. While Alternative 6 is higher for aquatic/riparian, it is lower for rangeland, forest, and landscape health.

Figures EC1 through EC10 at the end of Chapter 3 provide a comparative ranking of all alternatives for different measures or evaluation criteria of ecosystem health other than economics. The alternatives rank differently for each measure. For example, Alternative 4 ranks highest for forest health and natural disturbance processes, amount of watershed and riparian restoration acres, short-term and long-term landscape health, improved habitat outcomes for certain wildlife species based on snags and downed wood standards, improvement of habitat for bald eagles, and long-term environmental risk reduction (tied with Alternative 6). Other alternatives may rank higher for other specific elements of environmental health.

22. Portland, OR: In the DEISs and elsewhere, there have been indications -- sometimes firm commitments, sometimes only suggestions -- that additional analysis will occur between Draft and Final EIS. What topics are scheduled to be addressed between Draft and Final and how will this analysis be made available for public comment?

Answer: The scheduled tasks are: (1) Errors in Eastside Appendix 3-4/UCRB Appendix G on Figure 1 will be corrected. (2) Revised information on terrestrial species viability will be incorporated into Chapters 2, 3, and 4. (3) We will validate achievability of activity levels, and refine them where necessary. (4) Socio-economics sections will be addressed. (5) Conflicts in coarse woody debris and snag requirements will be reconciled with fire, wildlife, soils, and other needs. (6) The ICBEMP Executive Steering Committee will decide whether there will be one or two Final EISs. (7) All chapters will be revised based on public comments. Any new information determined to be significant, that is, presenting a seriously different picture of the environmental landscape from that portrayed in the draft EIS will be released to the public.

23. Wenatchee, WA: Excluding the "no action" alternative, there are six other alternatives. Each of these alternatives may be appropriate for specific sites. Why was Alternative 4 -- restore through active management, chosen as appropriate for the entire 144 million acres?

Answer: Alternative 4 was chosen to be appropriate for the basin because of the structure within the alternative and its expected consequences. The implementation of the alternative is refined at the various scales of analysis, sub-basin and watershed based on local knowledge and collaboration. Implementation still follows the overall theme of Alternative 4 to actively protect and restore the resources people need.

24. Butte, MT: Which is the Preferred Alternative, 4 or 6?

Answer: Alternative 4

25. Grangeville, ID: Why are there two separate EISs when you said that everything is interconnected in the Columbia Basin?

Answer: The two EISs began at different times. The Eastside EIS started in 1993 at the direction of President Clinton to "develop a scientifically sound and ecosystem-based strategy for management of eastside forests," to complement and address similar issues to those addressed in the Northwest Forest Plan . In 1994 the Upper Columbia River Basin (UCRB) EIS began, in recognition of the reality that the entire Columbia River Basin system is interconnected and that public land management needs to address all BLM- and Forest Service-administered lands in a coordinated and consistent way. Because the documents were initially on a different schedule, and because it was felt important to address different local issues and concerns with separate documents during the scoping and Draft EIS processes, the two EISs were kept separate to this point.

The ICBEMP Executive Steering Committee will decide whether there are sufficient ecological and management reasons to produce two separate Final EISs or whether there will be one Final EIS.

26. Grangeville, ID: Are the triggers in the Objectives and Standards and Guidelines for watershed analysis similar between resource uses, i.e. recreation, grazing, forestry, etc.?

Answer: Several situations require ecosystem analysis at the watershed scale to be conducted. These situations are summarized in Table 3-5, standards EM-S7 through EM-S10. The triggers would be in effect anywhere they apply, whether the project relates to recreation, grazing, forestry, or other activities. This is to ensure that potential actions are evaluated with an overall understanding of the capabilities and limitations of specific watersheds.

27. Moscow, ID: Why wasn't the AFSEEE alternative analyzed?

Answer: The EIS team determined that, taken in its entirety, the alternative presented by the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (AFSEEE) did not fully address the purpose of and need for action. Specifically, it did not meet the need to support the economic and/or social needs of people, cultures, and communities, and to support predictable and sustainable levels of goods and services from National Forest System and BLM-administered lands. Further, the proposed alternative was not based on the Science Integration Team's Scientific Assessment. Although the AFSEEE alternative was not described in its entirety as a separate alternative and was not analyzed in detail, several of its elements were incorporated into Alternative 7.

28. Lewiston, ID: Which alternative will accelerate permitting?

Answer: The question does not identify which type of permitting. The DEISs provide broad scale direction to help local land mangers achieve improved resource conditions on the ground. Decisions on specific numbers or types of permits will be made by local land managers using direction from the DEISs, where applicable.

29. Challis, ID: Ten government employees or college professors will have a different interpretation of what they read in the documents. How can we all have a similar interpretation these EISs?

Answer: The Implementation Team is working to develop an implementation plan that will further clarify how the EIS direction is to be interpreted. Rationale statements provided for objectives and standards in Table 3-5 will provide a common background and understanding for the intent and spirit of the direction provided by the various alternatives. Specific comments from the public during the public comment period regarding their interpretations of particular sections of the EIS will help the EIS team to clarify for the Final EIS those places where different interpretations are most likely to arise.

The open, public process for the development of the scientific information and EISs has been one attempt to remove ambiguity from the EISs. Continued open discussion, mutual learning, public meetings, workshops, conferences, and technology transfer efforts will also help.

30. Kalispell, MT: It is mandated in N.E.P.A. that local governments are to be granted joint planning opportunities with all Federal Agencies. The Counties and States are no less important and must be given the same credence as the Tribes you are so focused on. This is State water and County forests and rangeland. The Flathead National Forest exists within Flathead County not visa versa.

Answer: Counties, States, and Resource Advisory Councils have been involved, as were the 22 tribes in the development of this Draft EIS. For a list of the meetings and consultations with various government entities in the UCRB planning area, please see UCRB EIS Appendix C; for consultation and coordination efforts in the Eastside planning area, see Eastside EIS Chapter 5. County involvement has been through the State Association of Counties in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana through a Memorandum of Understanding. It is expected that the counties, States, tribes, and advisory councils will play an important role in implementing the final strategy. This intent is expressed in objectives HU-O1, HU-O2, and EM-O2, and in standards HU-S1 and EM-S3, in Table 3-5 of the Draft EIS.

31. Kalispell, MT: On Chapter 1 page 8 a very important and extremely inaccurate assumption has been accepted as fact; The increasing number of appeals and lawsuits over Forest Service and BLM land management decisions suggests changing attitudes beliefs.... This is a false assumption. The fact is that a very vocal minority has become well orchestrated and loud. Regardless of the noise, the number of 321 appeals in no way represents public opinion. It is folly to base future forest management on decisions on such assumptions created out of hot air. How do you recommend we respond to a document based on miss assumptions and frivolity?

Answer: The question has two parts. First we present some additional information on the number of appeals and lawsuits. A ten-fold increase in administrative appeals of Forest Service Decisions since 1985 has occurred -- from 200 to 2000. The number of law suits has also increased significantly. In the years 1970 through 1989, the Forest Service was involved in 4.5 major National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) lawsuits. Between 1989 and 1995, the average increased to 11 NEPA related lawsuits per year. The nature of litigation has also shifted from individual development projects (like timber sales or grazing allotments) to land use decisions and management over large geographic areas.

In regard to the second part of your questions, there is evidence of changes in attitudes and beliefs over environmental and natural resource issues since Earth Day 1970.


PRIVATE LANDS


**What impacts will the ICBEMP project have on private lands?

32. John Day, OR: How much impact will these documents have on private land adjacent to public lands?

33. John Day, OR: Will there be an attempt to force public land management practices on policies on private lands?

34. Boise, ID: You say that this "range of alternatives" only affects Federal lands, yet vast amounts of private land are interspersed throughout this 72 million acres of Federal land. What are the assurances that private property owners are being included and protected in the possible "massive" impacts of the decided alternative?

35. Kalispell, MT: This all sounds very reasonable from a scientific view point, however what is going to be the outcome of private property rights if this stands in the way of future plans? Is this the forerunner for the ultimate goal of the Biodiversity Treaty (U.N.O.)?

Answer: The decisions to be made from this project will apply only to Forest Service and BLM lands. While no decisions are being made for private, State, tribal, or other lands, adjacent private lands should benefit from better controls on noxious weeds and less severe forest fires. Private landowners and other members of the public have been and will continue to be involved in the development and implementation of this project. This intent is addressed in objectives HU-O1, HU-O7, HU-O8, HU-O9 in Table 3-5.

**How will private lands affect the way this project is implemented on Federal lands?

36. Sandpoint, ID: How can we truly manage the entire Columbia Basin Ecosystem when 50% of the area is in private ownership?

37. Grangeville, ID: What control will be implemented on private land impact that will impact public land direction?

Answer: We now have a better understanding of the relationships among activities on private lands and public lands because the Scientific Assessment studied all lands in the project area regardless of ownership. This understanding will help Forest Service and BLM managers make reasoned decisions on Federally administered lands. However, no control can or will be imposed on private lands as a result of this project, whether or not private lands are having impacts on public land management. Chapter 4 of the Draft EISs addresses the likely effects resulting from each alternative, plus the cumulative effects of activities that may occur on private or other non-Federal lands. The role that management of other lands may have on species and ecosystems in the project area was addressed by the Science Integration Team in the Evaluation of Alternatives.

38. Spokane, WA: Will the scientific data collected on the public and private land be made available to the American Heritage River Program?

Answer: The scientific data is public information and available to any interested party. The ICBEMP has developed a Data Release Policy for sharing data with public, agencies and other interested parties. Contact the office in Walla Walla (509-522-4030) for a copy of the Available Date List and order forms. These lists and forms are also available on the project homepage at https://www.fs.fed.us/r6/icbemp/.


PROJECT DECISIONS


39. Coeur d'Alene, ID: Ecosystem management is depicted as biophysical, social, and economic elements. With addition of the regulatory agencies to the ESC, is there complete agreement to these elements of ecosystem management or are they still just considering only the biophysical?

Answer: For this project the Forest Service and the BLM will decide on overall goals and objectives, a desired range of future conditions, and objectives and standards, all of which reflect the two project needs of: (1) restoring ecosystem health and ecological integrity and (2) supporting the social and economic needs of people, communities, and cultures. The Federal regulatory agencies consult with the Forest Service and BLM on this and other projects, with the intent that such collaboration will result in: (a) increased understanding of Forest Service and BLM project plans and needs, (b) better understanding of available information and the major issues, and (3) increased understanding of what we need to know to determine effects on sensitive, candidate, proposed, and listed species and the habitats they depend on. These consultation efforts do not change or diminish the authority of Forest Service and BLM managers to make decisions based on the purpose and need of the project.

40. Pocatello, ID: In order to implement any of the alternatives there must be some time commitment to realize the long-term response vs. short-term risks of immediate action. What assurance is there of a long-term commitment to implementation that can avoid a socio/political redirection in a few years before benefits can be realized?

Answer: The decisions from the Project will amend land use plans. It is the intent of the Regional Executives that this direction, based on the best available science, would be in effect for a 10-15 year period.

41. John Day, OR: When the original Eastside project started, local forests from the areas involved were assigned leadership roles. Those people conducted public meetings and made assurances and promises. With the beginning of the decision process, those people have been removed and replaced by professional bureaucrats and regulators. We have lost the promises and assurances originally made. Now we are being told how to read and interpret the product of the project. What assurances do we have that 18 months or 3 years from now the interpretations will remain the same?

Answer: The Implementation Team is working to develop an implementation plan that will further clarify how the EIS direction is to be interpreted. It is hoped that the rationale statements provided for objectives and standards in Table 3-5 will provide a common background and understanding for the intent and spirit of the direction provided by the various alternatives. Specific comments from the public during the public comment period regarding their interpretations of particular sections of the EIS will help the EIS team to clarify for the Final EIS those places where different interpretations are most likely to arise.

Guidance documents may, in some cases, supplement the direction which will occur in the decisions to be made. These supplemental guidance documents may include examples of specific local situations, and the proper interpretations the objectives and standards.


LOCAL INPUT AND INFLUENCE


** Why was a private organization of counties allowed to determine final wording of the Draft EIS?

42. Grangeville, ID: Tribes and states are sovereign governments. Counties are not. What is the statutory justification for giving a private organization, the EECC, the authority to determine final wording of the EIS? What other private groups have the same privilege?

43. Kalispell, MT: Since associations of counties and tribes had extraordinary access to and consultation with the EIS team far beyond that of the general public at the time the preliminary DEIS's were issued (but not to conservationists or, I assume industry) what is the "clout" of the general public in comparison? Were all "stakeholders" equal but some more equal then others?

Answer: The Eastside Coalition of Counties (EECC) is a coalition of local governments (counties) and not a private organization. As a government body it is exempted from the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Other FACA-exempt groups or FACA-chartered groups who have met with and provided advice to the EIS team to date include 22 Tribal Governments, governor's offices from four States, and a number of BLM and Forest Service advisory councils, along with Federal regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. None of these participants has determined the final wording of the Draft EIS. No private organizations have been involved other than to provide comments and suggestions as have members of the public at large.

44. Lewiston, ID: Emphasis is placed on "decisions being made at the local level." This almost guarantees a bias toward greater exploitation of resources. How are the non-local owners of public lands to be protected from overuse?

Answer: Numerous standards (which are required action or prohibitions) proposed in these DEISs, as well as Federal laws and regulations place limits which are designed to protect the resources from "over-use". The proposed levels of activities for each alternative were evaluated for their effects on resources and potential for "over-use". Non-local people can participate by sending their written comments on particular proposals to the responsible field units.


LOCAL VARIABILITY, "ONE SIZE FITS ALL"


**How will local variation in conditions or local politics affect local decisions?

45. Orofino, ID: How can you say "one size fits all" when the lands vary so (e.g., growth rate)? We need to know the specifics, such as timber sales quantity.

46. John Day, OR: How dictatorial will this document be on the local forests, i.e., how much variance will be allowed at the local levels?

47. Moscow, ID: How can this plan be any better than Washington, D.C. running the plan from there? Each watershed is different; different soils, altitude, rainfall. Why not let the District Rangers who went to college run their own district? That seems better than one plan fits all.

48. Moscow, ID: Explain how local managers will continue to make decisions once the broad scope UCRB becomes policy.

49. St. Maries, ID: The spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stressed the importance of decisions being made at the local level, yet as with Idaho's bull trout recovery plan, we see federal government desires to override this plan. How can we be sure that we will have local control and not political control?

50. Clayton, ID: I'm concerned that since you state the decisions about implementation will occur at the local level, what will happen if county commissioners in a particular area are opposed to the chosen alternative? What degree of control or enforcement is included in the process? For example, one county has a particular stream rich in threatened bull trout, and yet the local decision-makers aren't willing to change land management practices to protect the fish. What happens then?

51 Kalispell, MT: What assurance is there that local inputs will be listened to and that local decisions will be allowed, not just a top down heavy handed management?

Answer: The assessment reveals conditions and trends for the " big picture," within which local information can be viewed, as well as broader effects of local decisions determined. The ICBEMP ROD will establish overall goals and objectives for Forest Service and BLM managed lands within which local decisions will be made. The ROD will also include standards that must be complied with at the local level. While there will be little flexibility to modify standards of a procedural nature, (such as requirements for Ecosystem Analysis at the Watershed Scale (EAWS) or collaboration with Tribes, counties, and state governments,) many prescriptive standards, (such as requirements for snags, coarse woody materials, or Riparian Management Objectives) are intended to be modified using local information from EAWS and through a collaborative process. In other instances, standards have been tailored to certain situation or conditions, such as dry forests or low road density areas, but not to specific locations. The techniques used to accomplish the goals and objectives contained in the ROD, including the mix and timing of restoration activities, will be largely decided at the local level, again based upon local conditions and through a collaborative approach. In this way, land management decisions will be made using local information to meet the goals and objectives established at the basin level as well as local.

** How will the experience and knowledge of scientists be used to help local land managers make decisions?

52. Hailey, ID: This study focuses on using scientific studies of past and present conditions of our ecosystem. How will the experience and knowledge of these scientists be utilized to benefit "on-the-ground" decisions that local land managers must make? Will they serve as consultants reviewing individual situations to see how they can be brought into the improvement of the local ecosystem?

Answer: The Science Advisory Group is working with the FS and BLM managers to transfer and share knowledge and understanding. The process is referred to as technology transfer. The Scientists are committed to having the information from the assessment be useful in future decision making.


PUBLIC CONFIDENCE


53. Orofino, ID: The Preferred Alternative is partly based on computer model predictions, the Forest Service is 70% confident that they are 50% accurate on these predictions. How can the public trust that the Forest Service is using sound science behind ICBEMP and not political pressures?

Answer: Models are a very useful scientific tool to assist in understanding relationships and interpreting conditions. The assessment and evaluation of alternatives by the science team used models, summaries of field data, products from remote sensing applications, professional judgement, and existing literature to describe and project conditions within the basin. The science assessment and science evaluation of alternatives was peer-reviewed. In each case, efforts were taken to use the most recent and reliable sources of information.

The Project was organized specifically to allow the science process to provide policy makers with relevant decision making information. This organizational structure and process itself were effective in maintaining a separation between the science and policy. The Science Assessment Products have focussed on characterizing ecologic, economic, and social conditions and the evaluation of EIS alternatives by the Science Integration Team makes projections of outcomes and consequences likely for a wide array of options for future management. The political process is now debating the options for future management.

**How will public comments be considered and made available to others?

54. Orofino, ID: How can we feel secure that our opinions have been considered when the impact statement doesn't begin to address all management?

55. Grangeville, ID: Will these "public" comments be publicly published/available?

Answer: All comments received during the public comment period will be read, analyzed, and compiled. An experienced content analysis team will summarize and display the opinions, questions, and concerns expressed so that the nature, content, and number of responses can be easily understood and considered by the EIS team members and managers. The reports prepared by the content analysis team will be accurate, objective, and consistent. Comments will be grouped by subjects and categories and reported to the EIS team in a concise way. All comments and the reports prepared by the content analysis team will be placed in the project's administrative record, which is accessible to the public on request, and summarized and displayed in the Final EIS. Reading files which contain comments on the Project are available at the Boise and Walla Walla office.

56. Spokane, WA: Is it true (in your perspective) that support for ICBEMP is lessening?

Answer: The Project is strongly supported by the Administration as the responsible approach to address many controversial issues. Two years ago, Congress attempted to remove funding for the Project but in the end voted to continue funding and have done so for the past two years.

** How will Congress and the public understand the ecosystem concepts and scientific information you are dealing with in these EISs?

57. Hailey, ID: I perceive a great gap between what scientists know about ecosystem function and what citizens (and Congress) understand. I question whether any plan for ecosystem management can succeed without addressing this gap. Has this need been considered? How might this critical need be funded?

58. Hailey, ID: Congress makes the decisions but for the most part is ignorant of the science behind the need for ecosystem management. How can this be remedied?

Answer: Every effort has been made to make the scientific documents and the EISs understandable to Congress and the public, but the major documents are necessarily technical in nature. To provide a readable and concise document explaining the principles of ecosystem management, how ecosystems work, and how decision-making can use the best available science, the Science Integration Team (SIT) prepared a Framework for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia Basin and Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins (June 1996). To summarize the key scientific findings in an accessible and helpful way, the SIT published two documents, Status of the Interior Columbia Basin: Summary of Scientific Findings (November 1996), and Highlighted Scientific Findings of the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (May 1997). All of these documents, and the full scientific assessments, are available free of charge to the public from the Publications Distribution Department, Pacific Northwest Research Station, P.O. Box 3890, Portland, OR 97208-3890, tel. (503)808-2125.

The Eastside and UCRB Draft EISs also were summarized in a illustrated publication, Considering All Things: Summary of the Draft Environmental Impact Statements, which was mailed to everyone on the project mailing list and is available free of charge to anyone who requests it.

We will continue to work to improve our efforts to communicate with Congress and the public as the project continues. There have been Congressional briefing at key points in the Project. We will continue to hold public open houses where people can ask questions of the EIS team to help in their understanding of the Project.

59. Pocatello, ID: How much do politics play in the EIS? And how much will politics play into the final management decisions?

Answer: The Draft EISs display the consequences of any decisions that might be made in the Record of Decision. To the extent that elected officials represent the people who are the owners of the public lands, politics has a role to play in the decision to be made. However, the level and nature of political influence on the funding or fate of the Project is beyond the scope of analysis for the EIS.


LEGAL MATTERS


60. St. Maries, ID: How would a change in the authority of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) affect this plan?

Answer: The Draft EISs were prepared with full consideration of all relevant laws, regulations, and executive orders. See Appendix A (UCRB) or Appendix 1-1 (Eastside) for a list of the most relevant Federal Laws. We can not speculate on proposed legislation due to the unknown nature of the final version of the law, if enacted. At such time that proposed changes are finalized into law, they will be incorporated into the document.

**Where do laws requiring management of public lands for multiple uses fit into this process? What authority do you have to conduct a broad-scale ecosystem management project like this?

61. Butte, MT: Where do existing laws governing the management of public lands under multiple-use fit into the process? Does "ecosystem management" fit under existing laws?

62. Republic, WA: Did you read the Constitution? Was the U.S. Constitution ever amended to change our system? This Regional government changes our system of government.

Answer: This Project makes no change to the existing system of government. It does not change the way the Forest or BLM are organized. The decision makers will make decisions within their existing authorities. Under existing laws and regulations, both the Forest Service and the BLM are multiple-use agencies for which management priorities include meeting people's needs for uses, products, services, and values from both forests and rangelands, within the limits of ecological integrity, health, and diversity. A number of current laws--including the Federal Land Policy Management Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the Endangered species--support an ecosystem-based management approach. Chapter 1 of the Draft EISs describes a number of other directives, commitments made through interim direction, court orders, and consultation requirements with regulatory agencies that provide requirements or authority for permanent, ecosystem-based management direction.

63. Elko, NV: What effects would it have on current state boundaries or states sovereignty?

Answer: None. Regulation of private or State land is not within the decision makers' jurisdiction and was not considered in the Draft EISs. All decisions made as a result of this EIS apply only to Forest Service- or BLM-administered lands.

64. Olympia, WA: Federal agencies have been "planning" for more than 20 years. The results are reflected in reduced resource outputs and endless litigation. The ICBEMP will put 72 million acres at risk for legal challenges. How do you plan to deal with this contingency?

Answer: By using the best available scientific information and working closely with States, tribes, counties, advisory councils, and interested individuals, we hope to avoid the gridlock that gripped the west side of the Cascade Mountains for nearly a decade. By proactively approaching important management issues before listings of species under the Endangered Species Act are warranted and lawsuits are filed, we hope to keep these decisions with resource managers and out of the courts. One thing is clear: without this Project, the vulnerability of land management to legal challenge would be significantly higher.

**Does preparation and implementation of this plan require congressional approval? Will Congress help make the final decision?

65. Grangeville, ID: Does this plan require congressional approval?

66. Walla Walla, WA: Will the Record of Decision complete the decision process or does Congress have input also?

Answer: Authority and requirements for producing this plan came from a variety of directives, executive orders, court orders, and other sources as described in Chapter 1 of the Draft EISs. Land use planning by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management is required by Federal law.

The Record(s) of Decision will be signed by the appropriate Forest Service Regional Foresters and BLM State Directors. Implementation of the selected alternative following a Record of Decision will require congressional appropriation of funds to the agencies.


OTHER PLANNING EFFORTS


67. Vale, OR: The Eastside DEIS will determine future management of public, state, and indeed private lands in the impacted area. Therefore, why are RMPs currently being prepared when results may be over-shadowed and voided by the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project? Isn't it redundant to continue working on RMPs at this time and making decisions based on them when there are so many unknowns?

Answer: When the ICBEMP Record of Decision (ROD) is signed, that decision will amend resource management plans (RMPs) and Forest Plans. Since the ICBEMP ROD is not expected before fall 1998, some BLM Districts and National Forests have chosen to continue with plan revisions or amendments that are currently underway. Planners from BLM Districts and National Forests in the project area have been involved with the ICBEMP throughout the process, and there will continue to be close communication until the ICBEMP Final EIS and ROD are completed. Districts and Forests are and will continue to be aware of and familiar with elements of the ICBEMP plan as it evolves to ensure continuity and consistency.

68. Burns, OR: How does this DEIS relate to Oregon's Clean Stream Initiative, National Resource Inventory, Standards for Rangeland Health, and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing?

Answer: In general, the BLM standards for rangeland health are broad goal statements. The BLM standards for rangeland health are not equivalent to standards one would find in the Draft EISs. Standards in the Draft EISs are generally required management actions that address how to achieve objectives, and in general are more specific than broad, goal statements. The BLM standards have been "rolled into" the Draft EISs as a part of the Desired Range of Future Conditions.

The BLM guidelines for livestock grazing management offer guidance in the selection of practices and treatments for management of livestock grazing in the attainment of standards. Guidelines in the Draft EISs are suggested actions, priorities, processes, or prescriptions that are useful in meeting objectives. Guidelines in the Draft EISs are not required. The main difference between BLM guidelines and guidelines in the Draft EISs is that the BLM guidelines tend to be more fine-scale (or site-specific). The BLM guidelines will be studied during the time period between Draft and Final EIS to determine if some of them are appropriate and can be "rolled into" the EISs of this Project.

If any of the objectives and/or standards within management direction in the Record of Decision from this Project are conceptually different from BLM standards for rangeland health and guidelines for livestock grazing management, and they are conceptually different enough that they effectively change BLM standards or guidelines, then the Project decisions prevail. This is not likely to happen however, because Project objectives and standards were supposed to be developed so they were consistent with the Healthy Rangelands direction (43 Code of Federal Regulations Subpart 4180). In addition, BLM standards for rangeland health and guidelines for livestock grazing management were supposed to be developed so they were consistent with the Healthy Rangelands direction (43 Code of Federal Regulations Subpart 4180).

The Oregon Clean Streams Initiative, led by the State of Oregon agencies have many of the same goals for improvement of aquatic ecosystem. There are many comparable features to both plans.

69. Yakima, WA: Have you conducted a consistency check of the DEISs with the guiding principles established during the 7th American Forests Congress? How do the DEISs compare with said principles?

Answer: We have not conducted a consistency check. The 7th American Forests Congress in 1996 was a citizens' gathering in Washington, DC, during which more than 1,000 people developed a common vision and guiding principles regarding America's forests. The ICBEMP project and Draft EISs appear consistent with the principles expressed by this diverse group of Americans. The project's purpose and needs--calling for restoring ecosystem health and ecological integrity and for supporting economic and social needs of people, cultures, and communities--embody the 7th American Forest Congress principles of forest management to sustain ecosystem structure, functions, and processes at appropriate temporal and spatial scales; the interdependence of people and forests; and sustaining forests and maintaining and enhancing native biodiversity. Many objectives and standards--especially in the Human Uses and Values and Tribal Rights and Interests sections--reflect the Congress' principles of open dialogue, cooperation and coordination, management direction that reflects a diversity of human communities, active participation of diverse social/economic and cultural populations, and the provision of a broad range of social, environmental, cultural, and economic resources and benefits. The unprecedented Scientific Assessment conducted as a part of this project certainly is consistent with the Congress' principle calling for science-based information and research as a part of forest management.


COLLABORATION


** If decision-making for this and future projects will be done collaboratively, how will conflicts be resolved and difficult or controversial decisions made?

70. Sandpoint, ID: How will the conflicts between (a) clean air advocates and controlled burns, (b) weed control and herbicide opponents, (c) recreationists and road closures be addressed?

71. Colville, WA: You speak of local decision-making in a collaborative approach. What will the process be if stakeholders (especially regulatory agencies and tribes) cannot agree on prioritization of projects for example, and what will be the length of time involved in trying to reach resolution?

72. Bend, OR: Please explain the final decision-making process. You spoke of "collaborative decision-making" does this mean decision by committee or team? If a collaborative decision cannot be reached or is otherwise inappropriate, do we have leadership to make the difficult decisions that may be very controversial?

Answer: Collaborative decision-making for this and future projects will emphasize early involvement and active participation by governments at all levels (local, county, State, Federal regulatory agencies), tribes, and others. For this project, the appropriate Regional Foresters and BLM State Directors will be responsible for making the final decision based on the Final EIS, which will reflect input from the public and all concerned agencies and organizations. The length of time involved for collaboration vary, but by involving interested parties early in the process, we hope to streamline the process. In the future, local and regional decision-makers will retain the responsibility to make decisions based on the input they have received from all those involved.


PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT


73. Okanogan, WA: Why should we get involved? No study that I know of has put one more cow on the range, let us cut one more log or keep one more road open for us who can't walk anymore. Why shouldn't we just stop coming to meetings and fight you as hard as we can?

Answer: We believe the active involvement by the public will lead to better decisions. When diverse parties have worked together in the past, there have been cases where better understanding of the issues lead to identified opportunities and less restrictions on the amount of timber harvest, grazing or closing of roads.

** How will questions asked through the teleconference but not answered on-air be answered?

74. Libby, MT: How will questions asked through the Teleconference but not answered on-air be answered? Will we have to wait for the FEIS?

75. Columbia Falls, MT: Please send a copy of the questions and answers if possible you received tonight.

Answer: We collected all of the questions from the teleconference including the questions answered on the air. The answers are presented in this document and will be mailed to all teleconference attendees.

76. Vale, OR: Why is there no open house in Boise, ID?

Answer: We are scheduling additional open houses based on requests, location and staff availability. There were open house meetings in Boise on September 25, and December 16, 1997.

77. Libby, MT: Could any given potentially affected community make a request of the ICBEMP staff to provide a one day workshop giving the people an opportunity to be briefed on the background and contents of this DEIS in the same fashion that Agency personnel have been briefed?

Answer: Yes a potentially affected community can make a request to be briefed on the DEIS. So far, all requests are being met. Our ability to meet additional requests is based on ensuring the meetings are well dispersed throughout the basin and project staff can continue their other work. The Project held an evening meeting in Libby on August 13, 1997.

** Will there be more local open houses scheduled?

78. Libby, MT: Will there be a schedule released soon announcing more localized open houses at a minimum of National Forest Supervisor offices so people won't be burdened with a three hour drive or more to attend an open house or a public meeting to interact with agency personnel?

79. Columbia Falls, MT: We would like to see an open house in Kalispell.

Answer: In response to this request, open houses were held in Libby, Montana on August 13, 1997, Eureka, Montana on August 14 and Thompson Falls, Montana on October 8. Arrangements for a meeting in Kalispell, Montana are still being worked on.

80. Walla Walla, WA: What happens in the Eastside EIS area affects other areas, such as Portland and Seattle. How will public involvement be handled for those areas?

Answer: Portland and Seattle are included in the range of our public involvement meetings. For example, both cites hosted a teleconference site and there was an open house meeting in Portland on September 3, 1997.

81. Libby, MT: The Alliance for the Wild Rockies has been handing out postcard comments in Glacier Park destined to the EIS with a preprinted message. Is this legal? Did they have approval? From whom? Can other do this?

Answer: It is legal to ask the public to sign in support or non-support of a program as long permission was obtained to solicit such requests from the landowner or in other cases the program director. In this case permission should have been obtained from Glacier National Park and to the best of our knowledge, permission was obtained. If permission was not obtained, they would have to stand outside the park boundaries. The Northern Rockies Campaign did not request the Project's endorsement or input on their post card.

Comments that are most useful to the project include suggestions on how alternatives can be adjusted or combined. Specific page numbers or references to specific table, charts or sections also helps us understand your comments better.


ACTIVE MANAGEMENT


**Aggressive/active management in the past created the current conditions, so why are you recommending Alternative 4, calling for increased aggressive management?

82. McCall, ID: Current management has brought us piecemeal loss of fish and wildlife habitat, old growth, and roadless areas. How will the ICBEMP plan Preferred Alternative 4 stop this loss?

83. Hamilton, MT: Didn't aggressive management lead to most of the degraded health of the landscape? Why are you recommending a similar strategy?

Answer: The science-based direction in Alternative 4 is quite different from previous management. Alternative 4 is designed to aggressively restore ecosystem health through active management using an integrated ecosystem management approach based on sound scientific information. Alternative 4 reduces the risks of wildfires to life, property, and resource values, while actively addressing other resource issues. By actively restoring and maintaining ecosystems, this alternative contributes to the social and economic well-being of communities as well.


NATURAL SYSTEMS


84. Orofino, ID: How much study has been put into the natural order that nature does to all of the different categories of study?

Answer: The Science Integration Team used literature, historical accounts, and computer modeling to examine current and historical conditions and trends for natural resources and ecosystems. These conditions help define the inherent disturbance processes that operate with the basin and help define what is possible. Historical conditions were used only as a reference point to understand ecological processes and functions.

85. Republic, WA: How much do you think the ecosystem has really changed literally?

Answer: Since most current land-use plans have been in effect, ecological and social-economic conditions have changed substantially, as documented in the Assessment of Ecosystem Components in the Interior Columbia Basin and Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins by the ICBEMP Science Integration Team. These changes are summarized briefly in Chapter 1 of the Draft EISs and in more detail in Chapter 2, the Affected Environment.

86. Republic, WA: What provisions have been developed for different needs of a variety of biomes that exist in the Columbia Basin?

Answer: The Columbia basin is highly diverse ecosystem with varying levels of diversity represented. The complex landscapes and ecological conditions that once existed are, for the most part, still represented. The scale of this Project is different from the site specific management with which people are most familiar. This plan provides broad scale direction, while allowing managers on-the-ground flexibility to meet the broad array of diversity on FS and BLM administered lands.

87. Lewiston, ID: How are natural events accounted for in the big picture? Micro managing roads and trails to minimize sedimentation is not very cost effective, while an extreme precipitation event can accelerate natural erosion and negate several years worth of mitigation.

Answer: One overall purpose to which the alternatives are designed to respond is to restore and maintain long-term ecosystem health and ecological integrity. This assumes a certain level of ecological resiliency, which refers to the ability of the system to respond to disturbances including natural events such as fire, flood, or drought. It is expected that the management activities proposed in the alternatives would result in systems that are more resilient to such events, which will be more cost-effective in the long term.


RESTORATION


88. Coeur d'Alene, ID: Will these restored ecosystems become what we know as wilderness?

Answer: No. Restored ecosystems will not resemble the lands designated by Congress as Wilderness. If an area is currently designated as a Wilderness Area, it will continue as is under all of the alternatives, unless changed by Congress. The restored lands will remain available for a variety of uses and will eventually look like the description found in Chapter 3 under the heading Desired Range of Future Conditions. An example of some of the expected conditions are: the spread of noxious weeds is contained, encroachment of juniper is declining, forests have the proper mix of tree species, and there is a mix of economic and cultural benefits.

89. Newport, WA: Why didn't we choose a true restoration alternative?

Answer: The Executive Steering Committee identified as Alternative 4 as the Preferred Alternative because it is designed to aggressively restore ecosystem health through active management using an integrated ecosystem management approach. The alternative focuses on forest, rangeland, and watershed restoration, and presents a workable balance of using ecological restoration for the provision of goods and services.

90. Baker City, OR: Where within the Eastside DEIS volumes is a discussion regarding any application of fertilizers to the EIS areas? Active restoration includes (unless specifically excluded) fertilizer application to wilderness. My concern is the July 7, 1997 Idaho Statesman article describing radioactive wastes being used as soil amendments.

Answer: The ICBEMP DEIS does not specifically mention use or non use of fertilizers. The ICBEMP is directed at broad scale decisions. Site specific decisions, such as location and type of fertilizer, are left to local administrative units. Projects identified at local levels will have public input and analysis of environmental effects, and at that point specific concerns would be addressed. The ICBEMP DEIS does state, though, that soil processes and functions (chemical, physical, and biological) will be maintained and restored (see the Physical Environment section of chapter 3). Any soil treatment that interferes with this and other direction (for example, restoring riparian and aquatic health) would be contrary to decisions made in the ICBEMP DEIS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has laws to protect the environment from introduction of harmful substances, such as radioactive wastes. EPA and State agencies would take proper action if radioactive waste was being applied to soils, in the form of soil amendments.

91. Bend, OR: Is the restoration of regional ecosystem native plant communities an important specific goal or objective of the Preferred Alternative?

Answer: Restoring or maintaining biodiversity and productivity of native plant communities is the specific focus of objective TS-O1 and TS-O4 and standards TS-S1, TS-5, and TS-S6 in Table 3-5. Maintaining or improving habitat for native plant and animal species is a key feature of several other objectives and standards in the Terrestrial Strategies section of Table 3-5. Objective TI-O3 in the Federal Trust Responsibilities and Tribal Rights and Interests section specifically calls for recognition of native plant communities as traditional resources that are important to tribes and as an essential component to treaty-reserved gathering rights, and standard TI-S6 calls for programs for restoration and maintenance of native plant communities.

However, particularly on arid rangelands, where establishment of native species is difficult because of the lack of precipitation and the lack of dependable precipitation, we are permitting use of some non-native species, such as crested wheatgrass or intermediate wheatgrass in rangeland seedings. We are not promoting use of these non-native species, rather, we are promoting use of native species. But we recognize that on some sites, native species are not available in sufficient quantities, or the use of native species only would not achieve objectives of maintaining or restoring rangeland health.

92. Elko, NV: Please define: (1) "aggressively restore"; (2) "active management"; (3) "integrated ecosystem management"; and (4) "adaptive management".

Answer: Restoration generally means to restore the functions and/or processes associated with certain ecosystem components. Active/aggressive restoration/management mean that investments of time, money, and human resources are generally necessary. Active restoration can include a variety of activities, as described in Table 3-12 and discussed in the full-page sidebar found on page 3-6 in the Draft EISs.

As defined in the EIS glossary, integrated ecosystem management, or ecosystem-based management, refers to scientifically based land and resource management that integrates ecological capabilities with social values and economic relationships, to produce, restore, or sustain ecosystem integrity and desired conditions, uses, products, values, and services over the long term.

Adaptive management as defined in the EIS glossary is a type of natural resource management in which decisions are made as part of an ongoing process. Adaptive management involves testing, monitoring, evaluation, and incorporating new knowledge into management approaches based on scientific findings and the needs of society. Results are used to modify management policy.


PRESCRIBED BURNING AND AIR QUALITY


** How does the Project address current air quality standards?

93. Salmon, ID: How do prescribed burns fit in with the current air quality standards and how will they fit with the proposed standards?

94. Okanogan, WA: How is prescribed burning to be done without degrading air quality (i.e., grass growers burn ban near Spokane)?

95. Libby, MT: In Washington, grass burning has been outlawed due to air quality activists' particulate concerns. How does this plan's air quality assumptions address the issue raised by the anti-grass burning folks.

Answer: We believe that these issues have been addressed in the Draft EIS. Objective PE-O5 requires compliance with all Federal, State, and local air pollution requirements, and standard PE-S4 provides key points to be covered in any environmental analysis conducted for the use of prescribed fire. Air quality modeling used for the project indicate that the particulate emissions from prescribed burning alone should not cause widespread exceedence of air quality standards.

96. Republic, WA: Where in the ICBEMP are the safeguards to eliminate economic incentives for Forest Service management to burn as a result of fire pay for office personnel, and private providers of fire fighting equipment from great distances? This scenario appears to be a political problem in fighting fires and with the world community concerns about deforestation and other environmental influences of our forest being eliminated, this is of the greatest importance.

Answer: Fighting wildfires is expensive in terms of dollars and loss of natural resources. One of the implementation goals of the Project is to reduce the impacts of wildfires and the costs to suppress them by reducing the amount of fuels in forests. This can be done, over time, through thinning and prescribed fire. In the meantime, land management agencies will continue to fight wildfire to protect life, property and the natural resources valued by many.

97. Bend, OR: How important is fire (natural/prescribed) to maintenance of biodiversity in the interior Columbia Basin?

Answer: Fire is very important. Forests and rangelands of the Columbia Basin evolved with fire as an important component of all ecosystems. Historically, fire and other disturbance processes played a major role in maintaining biodiversity because they influenced the natural process of succession. In the absence of disturbance, ecosystems would move toward a climax condition, with the associated plants and animals of that community type, and remain in a climax type. Disturbance processes are what allow a landscape to have early-seral, mid-seral, and climax conditions over time and space, each bringing it's own mix of species to the ecosystem.


FORESTS AND TIMBER HARVEST


98. John Day, OR: Where is the information on salvage?

Answer: The objectives and standards and timber harvest activity levels are assumed to apply to salvage as well as harvest of green trees.

99. John Day, OR: Why not cut more of the larger trees and leave smaller future trees standing? Larger trees also produce more money for projects.

Answer: Forests of the Northwest evolved with fire as an important component of the ecosystem. Large trees tend to be resistant to periodic ground fires, which historically helped to sustain large trees at low to mid-elevations. Large trees are especially important to cavity-nesting birds and mammals. The number of large trees has declined and continues to decline. We do not need to have large trees everywhere on the landscape, but we need more of them.

100. Bonners Ferry, ID: Are our forests really in as bad shape as the Draft EIS says?

Answer: The Columbia Basin forests were historically in balance with their physical environment and position on the landscape. However, the Scientific Assessment documents that these forests have seen changes in species composition, structure, and density, putting them at higher risk to large, severe fires and insect and disease epidemics. The data shows that without a restoration strategy, forest conditions will continue to decline.

101. Orofino, ID: Snag retention is not site-specific but based on a blanket coverage. Why not base snag retention on actual need and not probable need?

Answer: In Table 3-5, standard HA-S7 directs local managers to use a local analysis to determine the need for snag retention. The snag levels provided in that standard are to be used only in the absence of local data and if mangers decide to move forward with a project and not conduct a snag analysis.

102. St. Maries, ID: The 1910 fires burned most of north Idaho long before any forest management (Smokey Bear) had an impact on forest structure and fire frequency or intensity. How will frequent low intensity fires in the white pine/hemlock/red cedar forests alter, for the better, what appears to have always been the typical fire patterns?

Answer: Much of the moist forests of north Idaho evolved under a mixed fire regime with a combination of both lethal and nonlethal fires. Under extreme fire and rare conditions, lethal fires burned and will burn in the future. However, through more thinning and prescribed fire we can break up the landscape fuel continuity, reduce fire fuels, and make sure future fires will not be as large or severe as the one in 1910.

103. Okanogan, WA: Proper selective logging would clear the understory vegetation without the dangers of prescribed fire. Has this been considered?

Answer: Harvesting and thinning are important components of a restoration effort. The forest activity table in the Draft EIS (table 3-6) shows levels for both types of logging as well as prescribed burning. Although it carries a risk, prescribed fire can do some things that logging cannot (such as recycle nutrients and carbon), and in some cases fire is more economical or the only action allowed (such as wilderness areas.)

104. Spokane, WA: Timber growth in much of the region understudy grossly exceeds harvest levels. This imbalance causes heavy fuel loads which causes extreme wildfire conditions. How are you going to rectify this imbalance without increasing harvests or causing smoke management problems?

Answer: The alternatives give a range of possibilities from increasing harvest levels (Alternatives 1 and 3-6) to letting nature solve the problem through wildfire with smoke as a by-product (Alternative 7). Alternative 2 would continue the current course.

105. Lewiston, ID: What projections are there for 100+ year-old trees?

Answer: We have no projections for 100+-year-old trees. In several alternatives the Draft EIS proposes to increase the number of large trees. Table 4-15 projects which alternatives are likely to increase or decrease the amount of mature and old forest.

106. Kalispell, MT: According to the integrated scientific assessment and status reports the quality of the ecosystem was highest in presettlement days when there was no fire or insect control, but the preferred alternative emphasizes both in order to improve ecosystem health, why is this?

Answer: The Preferred Alternative (Alternative 4) does not emphasize fire and insect control. However, forests have changed greatly since historical times. There is more fuel, more fine fuel, more fuel ladders, and more fuel continuity. The forests are dense and vulnerable to fire and insects. If fire and insects were allowed to operate indiscriminately today, they would damage resources, property, and people.

107. Hamilton, MT: Since most of the saw timber in the Pacific Northwest portion of the basin has been cut and timber harvesting is declining there as a result, where will the major increase in the timber cut come from? Why does your Draft EIS largely ignore this major findings of the projects's own scientific assessment in this regard?

Answer: The number of large trees has declined in recent decades throughout the Basin. The action alternatives propose to reverse this trend and others which are out of balance with healthy ecosystems. Also since fire, a natural disturbance process, is an important component of a healthy landscape, the alternatives propose to put fire back into the ecosystem. This will require a change in the way timber has been harvested. Thinning will be an important tool in restoring forest health. The goal is to reduce the amount of both live and dead fuels and open up the forests. Thinning will providing space to the larger, and healthiest trees in the forest so that they can regain their vigor, and can withstand inevitable disturbances such as wildfire, wind, insects, and disease. This means that the volume from thinning will come from more acres of forest than in the past, however, the average volume harvested per acre will be reduced and the average size of the trees harvested will be reduced. This approach is consistent with and responds to the scientific assessment.


ROADS AND ROADLESS AREAS


** What road densities are considered desirable at the end of the project, and why can't this be a local decision?

108. Bonners Ferry, ID: What does the amount of roads in Boundary County (Idaho) have to do with the amount of roads in Asotin, WA? This is either a one size fits all or local decisions by local people. Why do we have a one size fits all?

109 Coeur d'Alene, ID: What road density is considered desirable at the end of the project?

110. John Day, OR: If there are Project-wide percentage road reductions in the plan and they are required, how can you say that road density reduction is a local option? What if nobody on the local level wants to reduce road density?

111. Libby, MT: How are site-specific adverse road potentials addressed in a "cluster" wide road "density" reduction regime? Shouldn't "road" issues be left local without a regional reduction percentage goal?

Answer: No specific desired level of road density is required in the Draft EISs. For subwatersheds where road densities are high and extreme there is an objective to reduce road densities. Subwatersheds where road densities are low to moderate are not proposed for change, because the focus is on reducing the negative effects of roads, not necessarily closing roads. Recommended road densities are made on a broad scale; we leave it to local managers who will work with local communities to decide how and where to reduce road densities and/or road-related effects.

** How are roadless areas being considered?

112. Okanogan, WA: Will the Final EIS give explicit direction to forests regarding management activities in inventoried roadless areas (or non-management)? Would roadless areas be considered potential reserve areas under Alternative 7?

113 Missoula, MT: The Scientific Assessment found that the healthiest lands in the Basin are in the large unroaded areas. These areas also contain many of the remaining strongholds of fish and wildlife. Given these findings, why does the Preferred Alternative fail to provide clear protection to unroaded areas over 1,000 acres in size?

114. Missoula, MT: The science assessments say the best resource conditions for fish, wildlife, and water quality are in the roadless areas. Why don't you propose to protect all the remaining roadless areas from roading and development?

115. Lewiston, ID: What is being done to protect roadless areas and riparian areas, particularly grazing in high mountain areas?

116. Hamilton, MT: How does the preferred alternative address the issue of protecting roadless areas - both inventoried and non-inventoried?

Answer: The Draft EIS strategy for roadless areas assumes that Wilderness recommendations made in current forest plans for the area will continue. The scale for this EIS decision is inappropriate for individual roadless area evaluations, according to the DEISs. Therefore, existing Wilderness recommendations, made for some roadless areas in the current forest plans, will stand. Any additional roadless area evaluations will occur in Forest Plan revisions and statewide Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wilderness reports. BLM Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) still will be managed under the Bureau Interim Management Policy, and management actions in BLM WSAs will comply with this policy.

Management Emphasis in Roaded Areas: Forest restoration objectives in the preferred alternative will indirectly affect roadless areas. Highest priority for forest ecosystem restoration is on roaded areas with higher tree densities than desired and on areas where tree species are inappropriate for the site. While this emphasizes roaded areas, it does not prohibit restoring forests in roadless areas. Many forested areas without roads have undesirable tree densities and tree species uncharacteristic for a site. This means increased risk of severe fires for some forests.

Limits on Road Construction: One standard is aimed to maintain high quality habitat in subwatersheds with road density classes of None (0 - 0.02 miles/square), very low (0.02 - 0.1), or low (0.1 - 0.7). It states that road density shall not increase by more than one road density class or exceed .7 miles /square mile over the ten-year planning period after the Record of Decision is signed. The intent is not to prohibit building roads in unroaded or low road density areas. The intent is that managers proceed cautiously when considering more roads because the Scientific Assessment found a strong relationship between lower road density and higher quality habitat.

Many roadless areas would be affected by the above standard, especially subwatersheds dominated by unroaded forests. On the other hand, some roadless areas sit astride the upper portions of several watersheds and may cross multiple subwatersheds with moderate or high road density. They would not be affected by the above direction.

117. Lewiston, ID: Are "roadless areas" going to be protected from new roads?

Answer: The intent is to minimize road-related effects, especially in areas currently classified as having road densities of "none" or "low," which are made up in part by inventoried "roadless" areas (see Table 3-5, RM-S15). Restoration work in roadless areas or areas with few roads may require additional access. If additional roads are necessary, they can be built if ecosystem analysis at the watershed scale is conducted first, if it can be shown that no adverse effects will result, and if the process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is completed. This process is described in the Draft EIS, Chapter 3, Table 3-5, standard EM-S13.

118. John Day, OR: Current forest plans evaluate roadless areas. The Draft EIS does not need to address this issue at this scale. However, it will be considered during the forest plan revision process (Vol. 1, page 1-26). Why is the Draft EIS obligating analysis work in forest plan amendments for issues that were not addressed in the Draft EIS?

Answer: Evaluation of roadless areas will occur in forest plan revisions as required by regulations adopted under the National Forest Management Act. The Draft EIS merely states that the evaluation will occur in said forest plan revisions, but makes no obligation beyond what was already required.

119. Idaho Falls, ID: The Draft EIS does not protect old growth forests; healthy streams, lakes, and rivers; and preserve Big Wild areas like Greater Yellowstone, Glacier-Bob and Greater Salmon ecosystems. The Preferred Alternative ignores many of the findings of the scientific report. For example, only 6% of the Basin's rangelands were rated as "high ecological integrity" yet the Preferred Alternative fails to eliminate or reduce livestock grazing levels. Why is this?

Answer: The Standards and Objectives in Table 3-5 work towards increasing the number of large trees, having properly functioning aquatic and riparian systems, and increasing native riparian wetland vegetation on streamside soils. All roadless areas and wilderness study areas have already been evaluated and considered for recommendation as potential Wilderness Areas during the development of land use plans. Legislation to include these roadless areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System has not been enacted by Congress for Idaho and Montana. Existing Wilderness areas will be managed according to the Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 USC 1131).

There are objectives and standards within the Preferred Alternative that relate to livestock grazing. If these objectives and standards are implemented, the result will be reductions of livestock grazing pressure, particularly along waterways, and during and immediately after drought periods. The number of AUMs might decline also, but reduction of livestock grazing pressure does not equate to a reduction in AUMs in all cases. Reduction in livestock grazing pressure can be achieved without having to reduce AUMs; this can be done through changing the timing of when the livestock are permitted to graze. High ecological integrity of rangelands, as the scientists measured it, can be maintained without having to eliminate livestock grazing.

120. Kalispell, MT: The reserves in Montana concentrated (apparently) on the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wildernesses along the Continental Divide. Why are there no reserves in the Kootenai National Forest? Nearly all reserves in Idaho appear to be in the central Idaho wilderness complexes (River of No Return and Selway-Bitterroot). Since all these areas were already protected, why this gilding of the lily?

Answer: The reserve system proposed in Alternative 7 was built using the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping data from the Scientific Assessment. Reserves were designed to include the following: a minimum of 20 percent of each potential vegetation type in the entire project area, centers of biodiversity and species rarity and endemism, core habitat areas for large forest carnivores, northern spotted owl habitat (on the crest of the Cascade Range), strongholds of salmonid species, areas of high aquatic integrity, areas of narrowly distributed endemic fish species, and areas of important fringe populations of salmonid species. The base used to begin the process was a GIS map of all current natural areas and wilderness study areas on BLM- and Forest Service-administered lands. Other information was added to derive the final reserve system. All designated wilderness areas would remain in place as well, and all roadless areas greater than 1,000 acres would continue to be managed as roadless in the areas between reserve areas. A detailed discussion can be found in the Eastside Draft EIS Appendix 3-3; both the Eastside and the UCRB Draft EISs contain information on the design of Alternative 7 in Chapter 3.

**How will people continue to have access for management, recreation, commodities, and tribal needs if roads are closed?

121. Spokane, WA: Due to changes made to Alternative 4 in September of 1996, calling for less roads, how does this square with active management? How do we access areas that require thinning, prescribed burning, etc.? How much access will remain for recreation, hunting, fishing, sight-seeing, mushroom hunting, etc.?

122. Klamath Falls, OR: The Klamath tribes demand that all roads be left open to permit tribal members to exercise their treaty rights. Will these roads remain open or is some agreement with the tribes imminent?

Answer: Direction in the Draft EISs is aimed at reducing effects from roads, not just closing roads. Roads would not be closed without first weighing the risks of leaving them open versus closing them. We may keep some roads open but improve their management, recognizing that we still need access for recreation, commodities, restoration, and tribal needs. The Project is collaborating with all 22 affected tribes. Various access considerations are addressed in the Draft EIS, Chapter 3, Table 3-5, particularly HU-O11, HU-O16, HU-S8, and RM-S9. The point is to reduce adverse effects from roads, not specifically to close or open them. The exact locations of where roads would be closed or constructed would be left to local decision-makers. Most roads that would be targeted for closure would be native surface (dirt) roads, in subwatersheds of high or extreme road densities.

123. Salmon, ID: Have you done a complete road inventory? If yes, are these on a map and verified on the ground? If no, are you going to do one?

Answer: The Project did not conduct a road inventory, but mapped road densities based on mapping sample areas in the Basin. Systematic road condition and risk inventories are called for under standards RM-S3 and RM-S4 (Chapter 3, Table 3-5). Some National Forests and BLM Districts may have already completed road inventories.


RANGELANDS AND NOXIOUS WEEDS


** How will noxious and exotic weeds and diseases be controlled?

124. Pendleton, OR: Alternative 4 includes the "most active" approach to controlling noxious weeds and disease. How will they be controlled?

125. Butte, MT: How aggressive are these alternatives going to be in the fight against noxious weeds (leafy spurge, knapweed)? Are they to include spraying chemicals?

126. John Day, OR: Spread of noxious weeds to private lands comes in large part by importation by recreationists. Will we be assured of weed control on public lands? Who will determine what is a noxious weed?

127. Hamilton, MT: In what manner would exotic weeds be managed? Are herbicides an option?

Answer: The Draft EISs contain an Integrated Weed Management (IWM) strategy for control of noxious weeds in Alternatives 3 through 6, and outside reserves in Alternative 7. The term "noxious" is a legal classification and not an ecological term. Of the approximately 860 species of exotic plants in the project area, there are 115 species that have been legally declared "noxious" by at least 1 of 5 states in the Pacific Northwest region (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming). A noxious weed is defined in the Draft EIS glossary as "a plant species designated by Federal or State law as generally possessing one or more of the following characteristics: aggressive and difficult to manage; parasitic; a carrier or host of serious insects or disease; or non-native, new, or not common to the United States. According to the Federal Noxious Weed Act (PL 93-639), a noxious weed is one that causes disease or has other adverse effects on man or his environment and therefore is detrimental to the agriculture and commerce of the United States and to the public health."

The IWM strategy involves the use of several control techniques in a well-planned, coordinated, and organized program to reduce the impact of weeds. There are 4 general categories of control techniques within an IWM strategy. These include cultural, physical, biological, and chemical techniques. Examples of cultural techniques include: (1) prevention of weed spread, and (2) control of weeds through consumption by livestock. Physical techniques include hand pulling, cultivation, or burning, for example. Biological techniques include control of weeds through introduction of biological agents (insects, for example) that feed upon a specific noxious weed species. Chemical techniques include use of herbicides, for example.

The management direction for noxious weeds is found in the Draft EISs in Table 3-5 (Objectives and Standards), within objectives TS-O4, TS-O5, and standards TS-S5 through TS-S10. Of Alternatives 3 through 7, Alternative 4 is projected to be the most effective alternative in preventing further spread of noxious weeds.

128. Okanogan, WA: You say you will have one weed management strategy, then why are the Okanogan and the Wenatchee National Forests doing separate weed EAs now? Why don't you have a weed management strategy for dry forest zones, or any forest that presently is showing noxious weed invasion?

Answer: The Integrated Weed Management (IWM) strategy for noxious weeds in the Draft EISs is intended to be a broad-level strategy that can be implemented at a more local, administrative unit level (for example, BLM Resource Area, or Forest Service National Forest). One of the differences between noxious weed management direction in these Draft EISs, and the more local, administrative unit EAs or EISs, is that there is an intent to get administrative units to work with each other (for example, neighboring BLM Districts or National Forests) and with other federal, tribal, state, county, and city governments and agencies, across a larger geographic extent. One of the reasons for this is that noxious weeds do not recognize political or agency boundaries, thus noxious weed management must truly be intergovernmental and interagency if success is to be achieved.

The management direction for noxious weeds in these Draft EISs includes guidelines (suggested techniques) for noxious weed management, that local, managers can elect to use if they choose.

The IWM strategy in these Draft EISs does pertain to the dry forest zone (see standard TS-S6 in Table 3-5). However, in these Draft EISs, where one would implement the IWM strategy on the ground is more specifically laid out for rangelands than it is for forestlands.

129. Okanogan, WA: How will the mediated agreement for treatment of unwanted vegetation relate to implementation of a stepped up program to control noxious weeds? Will the agreement be a barrier to implementation?

Answer: The intent of IWM is not to have it be something that needs to be "mediated". Noxious weeds and their spread is not relegated to just one ownership of land, or just one use of land. Noxious weeds and their spread threaten agriculture, livestock forage production, wildlife populations, watershed protection, etc. Therefore, the hope is that the various governmental and agency groups will embrace the need for an Integrated Weed Management strategy for controlling noxious weeds.

130. Republic, WA: Which, if not all of these alternatives will bring the BLM and Forest Service in compliance with the federal Noxious Weed Act and the Carlson-Foley Noxious Weed Act?

Answer: Implementation of an Integrated Weed Management (IWM) strategy, by Forest Service and BLM administrative units, in coordination with other governments and agencies, across political and jurisdictional boundaries, will be in compliance with the Federal Noxious Weed Act and the Carlson-Foley Act of 1968. The alternatives that put forth this IWM strategy are Alternatives 3 through 7.


WILDLIFE


131. Walla Walla, WA: Assuming that DRFCs intent is to restore stands to some sort of historical range of variability, won't open "park-like" stands result in loss of thermal cover and force big game to its historic winter range which is mostly private lowlands, or will there be a reduction of big game to its historic levels?

Answer: Conditions providing elk cover will still be present on the landscape, because an ecosystem management approach attempts to provide habitat for a wide variety of species. In some instances, hiding cover may be reduced in some areas while young forests are thinned. However, this cannot happen in all places across the landscape. In other cases, looking at the long-term, thermal cover may be improved through tree management which promotes large trees with large crowns, providing snow intercept.

132. Republic, WA: How can you state that Alternative 7 is one of the 3 best for wildlife considering the tremendous fuel load in a lot of our forest has developed and the exponential spread of many non-native noxious weeds that if left alone will damage native wildlife habitat? This has been evidenced in areas such as Devil's Tower Park and other areas where they were left for years and spread dramatically till massive spray programs had to be launched. Several wilderness areas in Idaho have tremendous Spotted Knapweed populations that affect sediment loading in runoff and wildlife food sources.

Answer: Alternative 7 is one of the three alternatives considered best for wildlife, based on the response of several species groups to habitat features that may be found in large reserves, such as snags, low road densities, less human disturbance, and intact riparian systems. However the risk in Alternative 7 is considered to be higher, especially in the long-term, for the reasons you illustrate; potential risk of large scale fires, and effects of invasion and spread of exotic plant species.
RIPARIAN SYSTEMS, FISHERIES


133. Orofino, ID: With today's technology riparian areas can also be managed without any adverse effects to habitat for fish and wildlife. Why isn't this prescribed to help with returning out forest to a healthy state?

Answer: Standards in Alternatives 4 and 6 allow for timber harvest, thinning, and prescribed burning when it contributes to the protection of riparian areas. The standards also recognize needs for a healthy forest, such as reducing risks from wildfire.

134. Missoula, MT: I agree with the "concept" of Aquatic/Riparian strategies AQ-S24 through AQ-S28 BUT with decreasing budgets there is a high probability that RMOs cannot be attained (for example, less law enforcement, less personnel to patrol and clean up, and the fact that a high percentage of recreation sites occur in riparian areas. The DEIS does not fully disclose the impacts to recreation use by adopting standards AQ-S24 through AQ-S28. The only environmental consequence in the DEIS Chapter 4 is in fine print on page 164. Since recreation is identified as a major income/employment source in the DEIS, the impacts of AQ-S24 through AQ-S28 should be disclosed. How many sites would have to be closed or relocated? How many sites would "the practice or occupancy shall be eliminated?" What are the economic impacts?

Answer: General trends under Alternative 4 do suggest that there could be a small reduction in dispersed roaded recreation caused by road density reductions and some reduced opportunity for water-based recreation because of potential access restrictions associated with standards AQ-S24 through AQ-S28. Recreation measures are compared across the alternatives on Table 4-50, and discussed on page 4-170 in both EISs. However, the kinds of decisions that could result in closing or moving specific facilities or activities are left to local National Forest and BLM managers, so those local impacts can't be known or analyzed given the broad scale of this EIS.

135. Burns, OR: Regarding salmon restoration, will you objectively consider the impact of predators such as sea lions and bull trout (Dolly varden)?

Answer: Effects of predation and competition are generally discussed in the Science Assessment. Due to the broad scale nature of the EISs and the large number of other factors affecting salmon populations (e.g. ocean conditions and hydropower systems) it would be difficult to separate and analyze localized effects of predations on salmon populations. The EISs focus on improving habitat conditions on FS/BLM administered lands to restore salmon populations.

136. Elko, NV: I was raised in the central Idaho Wilderness Area, and currently revisit the region nearly every year. I do not see the degradation in water/stream quality that you repeatedly imply in the script. Please cite specific facts and figures supporting the degradation.

Answer: In some cases the broad-scale data presented in the Scientific Assessment may not match the fine scale or the conditions on a particular piece of ground. The broad-scale assessments reveal trends and provide the bigger picture within which to place local information.

Specifically, Central Idaho has a high ecological rating, which means it in good overall condition relative to the rest of the basin. As a whole, 46% of Forest Service and BLM land within the basin is in poor ecological condition, 28% is in moderate condition, and 26% is in high condition. For the detailed scientific analysis of water and stream quality conditions prepared by the Science Integration Team, see the Assessment of Ecosystem Components in the Interior Columbia Basin and Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins, or the Integrated Assessment for Ecosystem Management, both produced by the ICBEMP Science Integration Team.

137. Moscow, ID: What is the total number of fish returning through each dam?

Answer: Through early August of this year, the number of spring chinook returning through Bonneville Dam (the first one they encounter) was 113,813. Through Lower Granite Dam, the number returning was 33,855. These are both hatchery-reared and wild fish. For 1996 at this time, the number was 51,493 through Bonneville Dam and 4,207 through Lower Granite. The ten-year average through Bonneville Dam has been 70,283 and 14,608 through Lower Granite Dam.

Through early August of this year the number of summer chinook returning through Bonneville Dam (the first one they encounter) was 27,995. Through Lower Granite Dam the number returning was 10,662. These are both hatchery-reared and wild fish. For 1996, at this time the number was 16,034 through Bonneville Dam and 2,551 through Lower Granite. The ten-tear average through Bonneville Dam has been 22,282 and 3,867 through Lower Granite Dam.

Through early August of this year, the number of steelhead returning through Bonneville Dam (the first one they encounter) was 113,726. Through Lower Granite Dam, the number returning was 5,940. These are both hatchery-reared and wild fish. For 1996 at this time, the number was 73,655 through Bonneville Dam and 4,399 through Lower Granite. The ten-tear average through Bonneville Dam has been 89,802 and 14,608 through Lower Granite Dam.

Information on fish counts can be obtained at the Fish Passage Center at http://www.teleport.com/~fpc/.

138. Moscow, ID: Cannery numbers have increased and return numbers have decreased. What are the specific number?

Answer: Although specific cannery numbers are unavailable, commercial harvest peaked in the mid to late 1800's. More recently harvest impacts have been greatly reduced from the 1800's.

139. Lewiston, ID: Are salmon and steelhead habitats going to be protected from logging/roading, mining, and other water quality degrading activities?

Answer: Salmon and steelhead habitats would be protected from activities that would degrade conditions. In addition, degraded habitats would be restored.


ECONOMICS


140. Hamilton, MT: Why does the EIS downgrade consideration and the importance of local dependent communities associated with and adjacent to Federal lands?

Answer: Objective HU-O6 in the DEISs recognizes the importance of local dependent communities. The objective states, " Emphasize customary economic uses in rural communities or geographic areas that are less economically diverse and more dependent on outputs of goods and services from Forest Service- and BLM - administered lands."

141. Spokane, WA: What impacts are anticipated in Alternative 4 on recreation budgets for and public access to BLM lands and Forest Service lands?

Answer: Funding for various program budgets will depend on congressional appropriations and local decisions on how to allocate funds received, so we can't say for sure whether recreation budgets would be increased or decreased as a result of implementing Alternative 4. Alternative 4 does contain direction (objective HU-O11) to identify opportunities to provide public access for recreation purposes consistent with maintaining or achieving desired terrestrial, aquatic, and riparian conditions. Access for other purposes is addressed in various places in Table 3-5 including HU-O16, HU-S8, and RM-S9.

142. John Day, OR: How will permittees be able to rely on stocking levels of their cattle if different levels are going to be imposed during wet and dry years?

Answer: There is a strong likelihood that many permittees will not be able to rely on set stocking levels, which stay the same from year to year. Stocking levels will need to be adjusted based on forage availability during drought years. Stocking levels will need to be adjusted to permit recovery of native rangeland plants immediately after drought periods. Support for these statements comes from the Science Assessment, in which the following appears "Vallentine (1990) states that continued stocking at near-normal levels during periods of moderate to severe drought is probably the greatest cause of range deterioration. Reduced grazing intensities during drought, and for some time after drought, are necessary to minimize damage and hasten recovery of perennial vegetation."

The intent here is not to punish permittees that have been doing a good job of managing rangeland vegetation with their livestock. The intent here is to ensure that the backsliding of condition of BLM and FS-administered rangelands during drought does not continue after drought. This then will ensure a sustainable supply of forage that will sustain a livestock industry. Deterioration of rangelands during drought, which is inevitable, can be offset by recovery of those rangelands after drought, if livestock grazing pressure after drought is not excessive.

**What are the effects on local economies?

143. John Day, OR: What are the effects on the local economies?

144. Elko, NV: What effect would it have on the welfare of the citizens included in the area and specifically, how would they benefit?

145. St. Maries, ID: You said that we will not find forest-specific harvest levels or grazing allotments in the draft plan. How then can you address community stability in regard to the flow of goods and services if not on a forest (local) level?

146. Butte, MT: It appears that non-use and preservation take precedence over sustainable-use of renewable resources in ecosystem management. Local economies will be greatly affected. Are local communities an important consideration in this process?

147. Spokane, WA: Relative to the discussion on page 2-185 in the Eastside DEIS, local versus national use, will this plan and Preferred Alternative respect and provide for human and social requirements of local dependent communities which have historically used public land commodities -- timber and forage -- for their livelihood? Can you specify where I can find this in the DEIS?

148. John Day, OR: In the presentation, I heard no reference to local economies and the effects on those economies. In a county such as mine, Grant County Oregon, over 50% of our land base is Federal. There are 0 taxes paid on these lands. In Alternative 4, it appears to me that both timber harvest and grazing will be decreased. Without timber receipts and grazing returns, our schools would be crippled. Have schools in rural communities even been considered?

Answer: The effects on local economies vary by alternative and by the situation in each community (such as whether the local economy is dependent on natural resources). Information on local effects is limited because the Draft EIS proposes strategies which apply at a "broad scale," leaving local implementation to local managers. However, the project did examine the characteristics and conditions of nearly 400 small rural communities; Chapter 4 of the Draft EISs (PGS. 264-290 of the Eastside DEIS) contains the information on the effects on local economies.

The Forest Service and BLM make payments to local governments to compensate them for the non-taxable status of the Federal lands in their jurisdiction. Generally the payment is a per-acre payment associated with county population (called "PILT," or Payment in Lieu of Taxes), plus an additional "revenue-sharing" amount available if revenues exceed a certain threshold. The PILT payment is fixed and will not decrease unless the population should decrease substantially, which is not expected to occur. However, we recognize that the extra money from revenue sharing is important to some counties, and we have identified those counties within the project area that have in the past received payments in excess of PILT that would be most affected (see map 4-2). For counties within the jurisdiction of the Northwest Forest Plan, which includes part of Oregon, Congress has legislated special appropriations to partially offset revenue losses stemming from reductions in agency timber sale receipts.

Timber harvest would increase in Alternative 4 from the levels seen in the past few years, but no alternative would increase timber harvest to the high levels of the late 1980s. The Draft EISs do not project a decrease in AUMs, but rather increased costs of doing business for livestock producers.

One objective states that local managers should emphasize customary uses of public lands in isolated and less diverse areas in the basin.

** How were determinations of "resource-dependent" made, and how do we correct mistakes?

149. Bonners Ferry, ID: How were the determinations of "resource-dependent" and not resource-dependent made?

150. Kalispell, MT: Economic Analysis is wrong, for example, Libby, Montana wasn't listed as a resource-dependent community. Will economic analysis be corrected?

151. Libby, MT: Is Libby, Montana truly considered non-timber dependent in this document's planning?

Answer: A discussion of how resource-dependent communities were determined can be found in Chapter 2 of the Draft EISs (UCRB page 2-192, Eastside page 2-197). Determining resource dependency generally relates to two factors: (1) the size of the community, and (2) the percent of employment associated with timber harvest and processing. In 1987, the Forest Service identified communities thought to be dependent on National Forest System timber, as required by the National Forest Management Act of 1976. ICBEMP economists refined the original criteria and the original list of communities, in the Scientific Assessment. They further identified 29 "isolated timber-dependent communities" thought most dependent on Forest Service System timber sales.

Regarding corrections to the economic analysis, we will be expanding the amount of information on local-level social and economic conditions to ensure that land management decisions are based on the best information available. These areas have been identified for additional analysis: 1) comparing economic conditions in smaller communities to information reported at the county level, 2) reviewing recreation employment data, 3) adding an economic base and labor income information to the analysis, 4) Displaying wage data along with employment information, and 5) comparing economic conditions of Native American reservation communities to county-level and other community information.

152. Orofino, ID: Can local decisions be over balanced by increasing occupancy by retirees and or service type populations?

Answer: Local decisions would factor in the desires of the local population. The Draft EISs report that many rural areas are beginning to see an influx of people whose livelihoods are different than occupations that have been historically prominent, as well as an increase in the 65-and-older population. Over time, it is likely that local desires would change to reflect the attitudes, beliefs and values of a changed population. However, land managers have to balance the desires of differing interests, as well as meet laws that govern land management, in making decisions.

153. Okanogan, WA: Why did you study the economic assessment in ERUs (i.e. large contiguous area that included larger cities in each) instead of in small clusters like those used with the terrestrial assessment?

Answer: The broad-scale economic and social assessments reveal trends and provide the bigger picture within which to place local information. The project also examined the characteristics and conditions of nearly 400 small rural communities, nearly half of these in detail. This information is summarized in the Draft EISs. Determining specific community-level economic impacts is limited because of the broad nature of the proposed strategies. The proposed levels of activities are for a geographic level of groups of geographically large subbasins. The intent is to maintain more flexibility in local decision-making.

**Will ranching and logging be allowed to continue as businesses under this plan, and what will be the economic effects on my own community?

154. Vale, OR: The single most important issue facing the renewable resource based public land livestock industry is a positive reassuring answering of the question, "Will I as a rancher be allowed to continue to conduct a viable business under the plan and what will its effects be upon the social economic stability of the community in which I live?"

155. Orofino, ID: What happened to the basic purpose of the Forest Service where it states they are to sustain the forest and economics of timber-dependent communities?

Answer: Both the Forest Service and the BLM are multiple-use agencies for which management priorities include meeting people's needs for uses, products, services, and values from both forests and rangelands, within the limits of ecological integrity, health, and diversity. The alternatives proposed in the Draft EISs contain direction regarding livestock management on public lands; a comparison of the alternatives that shows general levels of various rangeland activities by cluster is presented on Table 3-11. (Use UCRB map 2-33, Eastside map 2-48 to see which range cluster your community is in.) Our ability is limited to predict exact effects of the project on any particular local community because of the broad nature of the proposed strategies.

Grazing is not being eliminated by direction in these Draft EISs. Livestock grazing will be changed however, to permit achievement of the objectives and standards. Question #52 talks about ranching and whether or not ranching will remain "a viable business" under this plan. It is hard answer this question because what's viable to one rancher might not be what's viable to the next rancher.

156. Spokane, WA: The Draft EIS does not contain enough information for the reader to determine how management of locatable minerals would change under the Preferred Alternative. Why wasn't the approach used by the Tongass National Forest utilized to evaluate potential impacts to and from locatable mineral development?

Answer: The broad area in this Project makes it difficult at best to describe site-specific impacts such as with mining operations and exploration for locatable miners. The Tongass Forest Plan was much more site-specific because it was addressing a smaller area.

157. Elko, NV: I am part owner in a large gold mine project located in central Idaho. It is currently undergoing an EIS analysis that is costing up to $2 million and is taking 3 years. How will implementation of Alternative 4 impact the permitting process and operating parameters of the project?

Answer: If a mine in central Idaho receives the permits before a final Alternative is adapted, then it will be considered as an on going project. Ongoing projects would be reviewed. Current mineral development standards (found in Alternative 2) do not change in Alternatives 3-6. Alternative 4 should therefore present no significant change in impacts from the current permitting process.

158. Libby, MT: Is the American public's consumptive habits and the potential shift away from public land domestic resource production addressed from a global responsibility perspective?

Answer: This issue was not directly addressed in the EIS. The consumptive habits of Americans and our responsibility in a global context is outside the scope of this document.

159. Libby, MT: If tourism is going to be a big part of our economical base why are you closing our forests which are a big part of our tourist potential when all jobs are taken away?

Answer: The Draft EISs are not proposing to limit access to public lands. The multiple-use mandate for BLM- and Forest Service-administered lands is not being changed. Public forests and rangelands will continue to be open to fishing, hunting, grazing, timber harvest, mining and a multitude of other uses.

The Draft EISs do talk about reducing the impacts that roads may have on water quality, fish and wildlife. There are many ways to reduce impacts without having to permanently close roads and limit access. Additional road maintenance, improving water drainage and seasonal road closures, are only a few methods that are available to land managers.

The figures in the Draft EISs that refer to road closure by forest and range cluster are meant to apply primarily to native surface (dirt) roads in areas of high road density. Because many people have misinterpreted these as targets or requirements, we plan to examine other objectives which emphasize reducing road impacts in the Final EIS.

160. Elko, NV: Do you consider the western ranching industry a culture and are there "federal trust responsibilities" to that culture?

Answer: In Chapter 2 of the Draft EISs, we recognize that livestock grazing has been an important part of the interior Columbia Basin both culturally and economically since the mid-1800s. Federal trust responsibilities are legal responsibilities to Indian tribes resulting from promises made in treaties, executive orders (statutes), and agreements.

161. Orofino, ID: "Economic return" foreseen as by-product of Alternative 4. How much and for how long? Is this why counties are in favor of Alternative 4?

Answer: The outputs in terms of recreation, timber and grazing are projected for the next 10-15 years. These outputs are summarized in relative terms at the end of Chapter 3. More specific levels are given in the Effects on Annual Level of Goods and Services in Chapter 4 of both Draft EISs (see Table 4-50).

Not all counties are in favor of Alternative 4. The Eastside Ecosystem Coalition of Counties, made up of the state county associations from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington with representation of county commissioners, do support Alternative 4, but with reservations. A complete list of their reasons for supporting Alternative 4 and their reservations is most appropriately obtained from the Coalition.

162. Moscow, ID: Where did the numbers come from saying that farming, ranching, logging, and mining make up only 4% of the economy? Potato farming alone makes up 15% in Idaho.

Answer: The 4% refers to the percentage of jobs related to ranching, logging and mining within the Basin. Farming and agriculture service jobs in the Basin make up about 8% of the total employment.

**What is being done to preserve the economic viability of small communities, especially timber-dependent communities? What efforts are planned to inform and involve those people?

163. Lewiston, ID: What is being done to preserve the economic viability of small communities? Logging and mining is on the decrease and recreation is not taking up the slack.

164. Coeur d'Alene, ID: The small timber-dependent communities and the associated rural residents are going to be the most severely and adversely impacted populations. What specific efforts are planned to inform and involve these people?

Answer: Objective HU-O6 in Table 3-5 recognizes "areas of economic vulnerability" by emphasizing customary economic uses in these areas. The intent is to help sustain these areas through the transition to a less dependent (more resilient) condition. At a minimum, those communities identified as "isolated timber-dependent communities" in chapter 4 (table 4-58) are targeted. Objective HU-O3 calls for producing a mix of goods and services, which can be used to generate economic activity and fulfill other social and cultural needs. And HU-O7 and HU-O8 address how the Forest Service and BLM can contribute to economic diversity consistent with local economic development goals. Through direction such as that provided by objective HU-O1, there will be increased involvement of local people and governments in public land management planning and decision-making.


COSTS OF IMPLEMENTATION AND AGENCY BUDGETS


** Where will the money for implementation come from, and what are the risks of not getting enough money?

165. Klamath Falls, OR: How much will the added precommercial thinning and prescribed fire cost and who will pay for it?

166. Orofino, ID: If an alternative is chosen that requires active restoration of mining, clearcutting, roads, watersheds, etc., how will the money be appropriated to complete the task? Can Congress deny the specific restoration requests?

167. Spokane, WA: Regarding funding this Preferred Alternative, what is the early read on the mood and sense of the House and Senate?

168. Sandpoint, ID: In light of the expected budget cuts in the Forest Service, how likely is this project to be fully funded? Also, what plans have been made for implementation under partial funding?

169. Butte, MT: The Preferred Alternative will require a 50% increase in the Forest Service budget when there is no chance Congress will approve the money. Doesn't this play into the hands of those who want studies but no resource production on these lands?

170. Republic, WA: Are federal funds available to support this project?

171. Libby, MT: Option 9 has never been fully funded. This plan's Preferred Alternative would require more funding than currently appropriated. Why should we assume we'll ever see the final, funded alternative implemented?

172. Baker City, OR: The federal agencies have historically not received funding to fully implement existing management documents. What is the chance that funding won't be available to implement this plan either, and what happens then?

173. Orofino, ID: Can the agencies afford to implement the plan with existing budgets?

174. Boise, ID: How will congressional budgetary constraints curtail, enable, or enhance the Preferred Alternative ultimately chosen? Would budgetary constraints result in limiting the realistic set of alternatives toward the tail end of the process?

175. Ione, WA: With all the emphasis on reducing government spending, where will the money come from to implement the project?

176. Grangeville, ID: Will lack of funding create a "locked-out, do-nothing" situation?

177. Spokane, WA: Where is funding supposed to come from for implementation ($125 million)? Why not simply use the science we've acquired to manage BLM and Forest Service lands without implementing ICBEMP?

178. Orofino, ID: With the downsizing of the Forest Service 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?

Answer: The added costs depend on the alternative in question. An interagency budget strategy has been developed and addresses how to pay for the additional costs. Congress retains the discretion to deny specific restoration funding requests. If full funding does not occur, the rate of implementation will be decreased appropriately and proportionately.

Receiving less than full funding will make it harder to achieve the desired range of future conditions. There will be a higher risk of more severe wildfires. There will be a greater risk of not curtailing the spread of noxious weeds. Reduced funding also will mean reduced activity levels and fewer restoration-related jobs. Reduced funding will affect the predictability of goods and services.

We are currently putting together a Memorandum of Understanding, which will address what happens if one or more of the other involved agencies do not receive the necessary funds from Congress. Also, we intend that as much as appropriate we will utilize activities that may produce revenue (such as selling timber and other products) to achieve restoration goals. The DEISs include a specific objective (HU-O4) calling for delivering goods and services efficiently and to provide the most benefits at the least cost. These measures may help offset some of the additional costs of implementation while still meeting objectives and standards.

The science portion of the Project describes the landscape, aquatic, terrestrial, social and economic conditions of the basin. The DEISs and future EISs provide the means to accomplish the activities needed to maintain or enhance the science findings. Without one decision document, there will be individual amendments to the forest and BLM district's land-use plans, which increase costs and the risks of inconsistency.

** Generally, how do the alternatives compare with regard to cost?

179. Pendleton, OR: How do the Implementation costs of the alternative compare? Are the dollars need in addition to present agency budgets?

180. Clayton, ID: Please compare the costs of implementing Alternatives 4, 6 and 7. Thank you.

181. Elko, NV: What is the yearly cost of implementation and how is it funded?

Answer: The alternatives differ in their implementation costs. Specific information is reported in Table 4-65 in Chapter 4 of the Draft EISs. This table shows that the general ranking of alternatives with regard to cost for all management activities would be, from highest cost to lowest cost: for the Eastside planning area--Alternative 4, 5, 6, 3, 1, 2, 7; for the UCRB planning area--Alternative 5, 4, 3, 6, 1, 7, 2. For many of the alternatives increased funds for implementation would be necessary. We estimate for Alternative 4, the preferred alternative, a yearly implementation cost of $268 million has been identified, of which $137 million would constitute additional funding needs.

182. Libby, MT: Is there any plan to analyze the alternatives as they would be implemented given existing budgets, budgetary restrictions, and policy? If not, why not?

Answer: No. The alternatives as developed, were not constrained by existing budgets. Some alternatives (i.e., the more active ones), would be affected more by the current funding levels. The cost analyses of the alternatives were initiated with an assumption that Alternative 2 would reflect current budget levels and agency costs. This assumption allowed for comparison of costs to current budget information (Alternative 2) for a "baseline" condition.

** What was the cost of this project and where did the money come from?

183. Elko, NV: What is the cost of the study and how is it funded?

184. Challis, ID: I heard they have spent $35 million on this project. What is the exact figure?

185. Hamilton, MT: In view of the fact that the President directed that this EIS be done for the Upper Columbia River Basin, where did the funding come from? Did congress approve the budget or was it taken from Agency funds?

Answer: The following table represents the BLM and Forest Service contributions, to date, for the Project. These costs have been tracked by the Project offices in Walla Walla and Boise. The source of funding for the Project comes from the Forest Service Regional Offices and Research Stations, and the BLM State Offices. The annual cost of roughly $5 million equates to less than one percent of the total agency budgets in the Interior Columbia Basin.

Fiscal Year Agency Amount
1994 FS $ 8.704 MM
BLM .657 MM
1995 FS $11.812 MM
BLM 3.806 MM
1996 FS 3.649 MM
BLM 1.419 MM
1997 (estimated) FS 3.684 MM
BLM 1.416 MM
Total $35.147 MM