PROJECT HISTORY

Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project     March 2000


July 1993 President Clinton announces the Northwest Forest Plan and directs the Forest Service to develop a scientifically sound, ecosystem-based strategy for national forests in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.

January 1994 A Project Charter is signed for the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (Project) by the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

May 1994 The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management issue the draft PACFISH interim strategy for protection of Pacific salmon. This interim strategy is intended to be eventually replaced with a long-term strategy developed through the Project.

May/June 1994 Public scoping meetings are held in 15 sites in eastern Oregon and Washington to "scope" for issues to be addressed in the Eastside Environmental Impact Statement.

July 1994 The Upper Columbia River Basin Environmental Impact Statement covering Idaho, western Montana and Wyoming, and northern Nevada and Utah is initiated to address federal lands in the eastern portion of the Basin.

January 1995 Teleconference held at 30 sites throughout Idaho, western Montana and Wyoming and Northern Utah and Nevada to "scope" for issues to be addressed in the Upper Columbia River Basin Environmental Impact Statement.


January 1995 National Marine Fisheries Service issues a Biological Opinion on the interim PACFISH strategy with the determination that the proposed action is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed Snake River salmon or result in the destruction of adverse modification of designated critical habitat.


March 1995 National Marine Fisheries Service issues a Biological Opinion on eight Forest Plans, as amended by PACFISH, within the Snake River Basin finding that forest activities may result in both immediate, localized project effects and longer-term broader effects to listed Snake River salmon. NMFS concluded that the Forest Service would be better able to ensure that the standards of ESA are satisfied at the project level. This opinion also included suggestions for addressing the long-term needs of Snake River salmon in the EIS being prepared by the Project.


March 1995 The PACFISH interim aquatic strategy is implemented for an 18-month period, pending completion of a long-term aquatic strategy by the Project

April 15, 1995 Project Manager testifies on the Project at an Oversight Hearing of the Forest Service Land Management Planning Process before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

June 16, 1995 Chief of the Forest Service testifies about the social and economic impacts of the Project at a General Oversight Hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held in Grangeville, Idaho.

June 1995 The Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service issues "Eastside Screens" amending interim management direction establishing riparian, ecosystem, and wildlife standards for timber sales for the National Forests of eastern Oregon and Washington. This interim strategy is intended to be replaced with a long-term strategy by the Project.

June 1995 In response to the pending decision to place bull trout on the endangered species list, the Forest Service issues the draft Inland Native Fish Strategy (INFISH) for protection of bull trout and other inland native fish. This interim strategy is intended to be replaced with a long-term strategy developed by the Project.

May 7, 1996 Chief of the Forest Service and Acting Bureau of Land Management Director testify at an Oversight Hearing on the Project before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies.

May 21, 1996 Associate Chief of the Forest Service and Project Manager testify at an Oversight Hearing on Ecosystem Assessments before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Lands.

June 1996 Executive Steering Committee charters a Project Implementation Team to develop a process of transferring the scientific information developed by the Project to the field.

June 1996 A Framework for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia Basin including Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins is published by the Science Integration Team.

September 1996 An Integrated Scientific Assessment for Ecosystem Management in the Interior Columbia Basin including Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins published by the Science Integration Team.

November 1996 Status of the Interior Columbia Basin, Summary of Scientific Findings is published by the Science Integration Team.

May 1997 Evaluation of EIS Alternatives by the Science Integration Team is published.

May 1997 Highlighted Scientific Findings of the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project is published by the Science Integration Team.

May 15, 1997 Pacific Northwest Regional Forester testifies at a joint Oversight Hearing on the Project before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management and the House Committee on Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Health.

May 1997 Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin Draft Environmental Impact Statements are published and released to the public. A 120-day public comment period begins.

June 1997 Assessment of Ecosystem Components is published by the Science Integration Team (Volumes I-IV).

July 1997 Interactive public involvement teleconference broadcast to 60 communities in six states to introduce people to the content of the Draft Environmental Impact Statements.

July/August 1997 40 public open houses and employee meetings held across the project area to provide an opportunity for open dialogue with the Project team members.

July-Sept 1997 Tribal Summits are held in three states.

September 1997 The public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statements is extended until February 6, 1998 in response to requests from the public and the Congress.

October 1997 The Congress directs the Project to publish an economic report and a report to Congress on the decisions, costs, and impacts of the Project on the production of goods and services within the project area.

December 1, 1997 Tribal Summit held in Portland, Oregon with Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, representatives from 10 tribes, and 5 members of the Project's Executive Steering Committee. A Tribal Working Group is formed to address tribal concerns.

December 1997 Comment period on Draft Environmental Impact Statements is extended to April 6, 1998.

February 1998 At the request of the Congress (October 1997), the Project releases an Economic and Social Conditions of Communities report.

March 10, 1998 Bureau of Land Management Idaho Sate Director testifies at a field hearing of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.

March 1998 Comment period on Draft Environmental Impact Statements extended to May 6, 1998.

April 14, 1998 Chief of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management Idaho State Director, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Regional Administrator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Regional Director, and National Marine Fisheries Service Assistant Regional Administrator testify at an Oversight Hearing on the role of the regulatory agencies on the Project before the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health in Nampa, Idaho.

May 6, 1998 Public comment period on Draft Environmental Impact Statements closes. Over 83,000 comment letters were received (comments were received from every U.S. State and 58 countries).

May 28, 1998 Pacific Northwest Regional Forester, Project Manager, and Science Team Leader testify at a field hearing on the Project before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management held in Spokane, Washington.

June 1998 National Marine Fisheries Service issues a Biological Opinion on 18 Forest Service and BLM land management plans in response to the listing of Snake River and Upper Columbia River steelhead, concluding that that continued implementation of the 18 land management plans is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed anadromous fish or result in destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat.

August 1998 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues a Biological Opinion on 40 USFS and BLM land management plans as amended by INFISH in response to the listing of bull trout, concluding that continued implementation of the land management plans is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of bull trout.

October 1998 Final Analysis of Public Comments for the Eastside and Upper Columbia River Basin Draft Environmental Impact Statements is published, summarizing comments received during the 11-month comment period.

October 8, 1998 Letter from Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman directs Project to issue a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement refining the project focus to address the critical and compelling issues that must be resolved at the broad-scale: landscape health, aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and socio-economics.

October 1998 The Project begins the preparation of one Supplemental Draft EIS to cover both the eastern and western portions of the Interior Columbia Basin.

Summer 1999 Executive Steering Committee for the Project decides that the management direction in the Supplemental Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements and the Record of Decision will not apply to public lands located in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, and the area east of the crest of the Cascades already covered by the Northwest Forest Plan.