The Project received more than 83,000 public comments on two Draft EIS
documents released in June 1997. The comment period on these documents
lasted 335 days. In response to the public comments, new scientific
information, agency review, and direction from the Secretaries of
Agriculture and Interior, a Supplemental Draft EIS (SDEIS)
was released in March 2000. Approximately 525 comments were received during the 90-day
comment period. The project released a Final EIS and Proposed Decision in December 2000.
The release of the Final EIS initiated a protest process that began on December 15, 2000 and ended January 16, 2001.
Seventy-four protest letters were received.
In January 2003 the Regional Executives for the USDA Forest Service, Forest Service Research, USDI Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Environmental Protection Agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding completing the Project. The agencies signing the MOU agree to cooperatively implement The Interior Columbia Basin Strategy (hereafter referred to as the “Strategy”).
The agencies developed an Aquatic/Riparian Habitat Framework to clarify the Interior Columbia Basin Strategy relative to the aquatic and riparian habitat components. The MOU expired in December of 2012. The interagency Deputy Team determined that an MOU was not necessary to continue implementing the Strategy and Aquatic/Riparian Framework. The Strategy and Aquatic and Riparian Framework (Appendix 1) have been updated (2014) and are being used to amend and revise land use plans for FS and BLM within the Columbia Basin.
The Strategy provides direction to field units in a set of principles that incorporate the science data and resource information developed by the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, as well as more recent science, to be incorporated into land use plans (FS land and resource management plans and BLM resource management plans) and project implementation. The Strategy identifies key principles that are relevant to future planning efforts including an update of ecological principles.
The Aquatic and Riparian Framework for developing and incorporating the aquatic and riparian habitat components of land use plans has been integrated into the updated Strategy. The Framework (Appendix 1) clarifies, interprets, and in some instances, enhances the principles found in the Strategy. The Framework provides guidance and facilitates consistency among plans by promoting inclusion of several fundamental elements of riparian and aquatic conservation. The Framework describes the importance of and underlying expectations for those conservation elements, but allows flexibility in how they are addressed within individual plans. Responsibility for adopting management direction, including setting restoration priorities, rests with the agency officials responsible for approving the management plan.