one's holding their breath, but approval may be close for an
interagency plan outlining management of 63 million acres of
federal land across Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and
western Montana (HCN, 6/23/97: New plan draws hisses,
In the works for over six years, the hefty
and ballyhooed Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management project
calls for more protection for watersheds, less grazing, more
prescribed burns, and thinning forests to achieve diversity.
Reaction to the $50 million proposal has been
mixed. Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, R, says the document doesn't
consider enough of the economic and cultural impacts to local
communities. Environmentalists, who wanted more protection for
endangered species and old-growth forests, say they are worn out
from trying to inject environmental standards into the plan.
"This proposal represents the most unswerving
and obdurate refusal to respond to input from the conservation
community that I have ever witnessed," says Nathaniel Lawrence of
the Natural Resources Defense Council.
of the interagency team, however, say the plan will be successful
in the long run. "This thing will take time to implement, but from
what we've seen from pilot projects on the ground, it's feasible,"
says Andy Brunelle, a Forest Service employee who has worked on the
plan for over five years.
The plan is available
on the Web at www.icbemp.gov/eis. Public comment must be sent by
July 6 either to the Web site or to SDEIS, P.O. Box 420, Boise, ID