INTERIOR COLUMBIA BASIN ECOSYSTEM
December 23, 1997
Andy Brunelle 208-334-1770
Kathy Campbell 509-522-4042
ADDITIONAL EXTENSION OF FORMAL PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
Federal officials today announced an additional 60-day extension of
the formal public comment period for the Eastside and Upper Columbia River
Basin Draft Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). The Project's Regional
Executives have decided to extend the comment period from February 6, 1998
until April 6, 1998. The extension is necessary to respond to additional
project requirements included in the 1998 Interior Appropriations Bill. The
two DEISs have been available public review since June 1997.
Section 323 of the 1998 Interior Appropriations Bill asked the Project
to do additional analysis and several reports prior to publishing a Final
EIS. A report analyzing exisiting economic and social conditions, culture,
and customs of communities within the project area is currently being
developed. The report will also include an analysis of the impacts on those
communities of the alternatives in the Draft EISs. The report will be
published and available for public review in mid-February.
"Adding 60 more days to the public comment period, will allow
reasonable time for anyone interested to review and comment on this
additional economics information," stated Susan Giannettino, Project
Manager. "If you have already submitted comments, it will also give you an
opportunity to amend or add to previous comments, based on review of this
"We want to provide a reasonable opportunity and quality time for the
public to read, comprehend, and comment on one or both of the two DEISs, and
this additioanl economic report," said Martha Hahn, Idaho State Director for
the Bureau of Land Management. Hahn chairs a panel of Federal executives in
the Pacific Northwest who oversee the effort known as the Interior Columbia
Basin Ecosystem Management Project. "We feel these documents are a
culmination of a significant effort on the part of the Federal agencies
involved in this project."
During the first two months of the comment period, the Project
received several requests for extension of the original 120-day comment
period from October 6, 1997 to February 6, 1998. Many of these requests
cited the length and complexity of the two DEISs. This additional extension
of the formal public comment period will be officially announced with a
notice in the Federal Register.
The two DEISs address the management of more than 72 million acres of
Forest Service- and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered land in the
interior Columbia River Basin and portions of the Klamath and Great Basins.
One DEIS covers these public lands in eastern Oregon and Washington, and the
other DEIS covers much of Idaho, western Montana, northern Nevada, and parts
of Utah and Wyoming.
Federal officials were quick to point out that public comments are
essential to mold the final strategy, now due to be completed in the Spring
of 1999. "We need to remember that these are draft documents," said Forest
Service Northern Regional Forester Dale Bosworth. "We want the final
direction to reflect the public's comments. This extension of the public
comment period will provide more opportunities to ask questions about the
documents and give comments over the next few months."
The Project was launched in 1993 by the Forest Service and BLM to
address environmental and economic issues, such as recovery of Snake River
salmon, declining forest and rangeland health, and changing economies and
social conditions of local communities, that affect larger areas than
traditional administrative boundaries. Comprehensive science reports were
issued in December 1996. For further information please contact the
Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project at 509-522-4030 or