INTERIOR COLUMBIA BASIN ECOSYSTEM
Andy Brunelle 208-334-1770, ext 128
Rex Holloway 509-522-4046
The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project has completed and released a report on the economic and social conditions of several hundred communities in the Pacific Northwest. Project leaders also announced an additional 30-day extension of the public comment period on the Eastside and Upper Columbia River Draft Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) prepared by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. The new comment deadline of May 6, 1998 will allow additional time for people to read the report which characterizes economic and social conditions and estimates effects on those communities from the alternatives of the Draft EISs.
"This report has been published in response to the need identified by the Eastside Coalition of Counties and in the 1998 Interior Appropriations Bill for a more complete characterization of communities and effects," said Martha Hahn, Chairperson of the Project's Executive Steering Committee. "In order to get a more complete picture of these communities, it was necessary to look at them at the community level in addition to the basin-wide level portrayed in the Project's Scientific Assessment and Draft EISs."
The report contains an analysis of the economic and social conditions of communities in a 144 million acre region addressed in the Draft EISs. The analysis provides additional data on economic and social conditions and impacts based on the management alternatives presented in the Draft EIS and standardized industry category data, such as agriculture, wood products manufacturing, and mining.
Economic impacts associated with non-standardized industries (such as recreation) and non-resource related industries that locate in the region because of resource-related amenities (such as high tech firms) are not fully addressed in this report. However, this report does recognize, and the Draft EISs discuss in greater detail, the fact that the economic contribution of recreation uses on federal lands is large and growing.
"To get a full understanding of the social and economic conditions in the interior Columbia Basin, one should also review the Draft EISs and the science documents they reference," said Project Manager Susan Giannettino. "This report narrowly focuses on communities and should be considered in context with the other information that is present."
"Looking at communities in the project area at different scales will help tell different social and economic stories that will provide communities and individuals helpful information for future economic development and planning," stated Nick Reyna, project economist and author of the economic characterization portion of the report.
A portion of the report estimates social and economic effects that may be expected at the community level if different alternatives presented in the Draft EISs were implemented. "This report infers possible trends in different types of communities within the project area," according to Jerry Williams, sociologist for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service and co-author of the effects portion of the report. The Pacific Northwest Region's economist, Dick Phillips, was also co-author.
The report found that over 30% of communities within the project area are considered isolated and nearly 70% are specialized in either agriculture, agriculture services, wood products manufacturing, mining, or federal government employment. The report is based on data gathered for one of the project's contract reports by the University of Idaho in 1996. Over 500 communities within the project area participated in the original survey.
The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project is a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, working in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a scientifically sound, ecosystem-based management strategy for over 72 million acres of BLM and Forest Service-administered lands in eastern Oregon and Washington, Idaho, and portions of western Montana and Wyoming and northern Nevada and Utah. For further information please contact the Project in Walla Walla at 509-522-4030 or in Boise at 208-334-1770.