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This page was last updated on January 06, 2009 .

Sleeping at The Switch
by: Larry Walker, 6/19/97

Are environmental organizations and watchdogs "sleeping at the switch"? Judge for yourself.

Two Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEISs) have been made available as the next step toward implementation of the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP). The Eastside DEIS covers the portion of the project in Oregon and Washington, and the Upper Columbia River Basin DEIS covers the portion of the project in Idaho, and parts of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. According to the Notice of Availability, "The Record of Decision that will eventually complete the National Environmental Policy Act process of which these two draft EISs are a part, may amend Forest Service Regional Guides and is expected to amend existing Forest Service Land and Resource Management Plans and BLM Resource Management Plans and Management Framework Plans in the Project area by the adoption of an ecosystem-based strategy".

The "project area" includes about 72 million acres of Forest Service (30) and BLM (42) land. How big is that? Well, it is slightly more than the combined area of the District of Columbia plus the states of Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, West Virginia, and South Carolina. If 72 million acres were combined into a new state, it would be the 7th largest behind only Alaska, Texas, California, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona. It represents 17.4% of all federal lands in the "lower 48", or 11% of all federal lands if Alaska and Hawaii are included.

It would seem that the general membership of most environmental organizations would be interested in knowing that these DEISs are available, how to get a copy, and that the comment period expires on October 3, 1997. It seems that at least one of the environmental organizations could have made this information available to its membership via their web page in the two weeks the DEISs have been available. I spent a few hours today searching for that one organization, and I drew a blank!

While the information is available on the ICBEMP home page, and there are links from a few other government pages - I was not able to find even a reference to it on the environmental community pages of: Oregon Natural Desert Association, Oregon Trout, Save Our wild Salmon, The Nature Conservancy, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, National Wildlife Federation, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Greenpeace, Idaho Rivers United, Portland Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Sierra Club, or Natural Resources Defense Council.

What do you think? Are they sleeping at the switch?