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Scoping is a term used in the National Environmental Policy Act for determining what issues an environmental impact statement should address.
Summary of the Scoping Process
The formal scoping period started with printing of the Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on September 7, 2005 and concluded on October 21, 2005. The first edition of a planning newsletter "Scoping for Issues" was mailed in early September to approximately 11,000 postal addresses. This mailing list was composed of the six BLM Districtís planning lists and the Survey and Manage Environmental Impact Statement mailing list. Approximately 75 meetings were conducted with interested parties in western Oregon. These meetings included one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, presentations to organized groups and agencies, tours, and advertised public meetings. Several newspaper articles reported on the scoping process and advertised public meetings.
The BLM asked the Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at the University of Montana to conduct an independent assessment of the interests and concerns of stakeholders, and to solicit ideas on how to involve the public throughout the planning process. The PPRI is conducting this assessment with the assistance of RESOLVE and the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), two nationally recognized public involvement organizations. Their report and recommendations will be considered in designing future public involvement activities.
Summary of Issues
Almost 3,000 public comments were received during the scoping period. Comments included e-mail messages, written correspondence, face-to-face discussions and meeting notes.
The comments expressed by the public covered a wide variety of attitudes and ideas about past and future management of BLM-administered lands in western Oregon. The preponderance of comments centered around the following issues:
- "Preserve old-growth stands and focus harvest on small-diameter trees" were the most common comments made. Most of these comments supported the Northwest Forest Plan concepts, but indicated a preference for maintaining reserves and all existing old-growth stands.
- Many comments recognized the need for community economic stability and acknowledged the positive impacts of some sustained level of timber harvest in the long run. Many asked BLM to consider the wider spectrum of resource values and diverse sources of direct and indirect revenue that can be generated from O&C lands (such as recreation, tourism, scenic values, quality-of-life, education, and timber.)
- There was general acceptance that BLM must maintain habitat for species given special status under the Endangered Species Act. Many comments asked BLM to consider alternatives that strive for "species recovery" over merely "avoiding jeopardy."
- Many comments urged BLM to maintain the reserve system as it now exists. Some suggested maintaining the reserves, but managing them differently, perhaps even strengthening protection through other designations.
- A significant number of comments stated the historical importance of the O&C lands and timber harvest to community health and stability. Many urged the BLM to find ways to maintain or increase the harvest to support timber-dependant industries and communities.
- Maintaining and improving water quality was frequently mentioned by respondents.
- Some comments, particularly from people in the southern portions of the planning area expressed the need for management to control the increasing wildfire hazard.