Feds set meetings to review forest rules - deadline for public comment ends soon
To kick off the process, the agencies will host a series of public hearings during the next two weeks, hoping to elicit comment about the issue.
"It's a way of asking the public for information or questions or concerns we may have not thought up," said Doug Zimmer, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokesman. "Usually our effort is to take comment, take questions, not try to solve the issue right then and there."
The meetings nearest the Twin Harbors are at Tacoma's Sheraton Hotel Tuesday, March 18, or at Port Angeles's Red Lion Hotel Thursday, March 20. Both start at 5 p.m.
The state's forest practices rules, wrapped up in the Fish & Forest Rules, will be the subject of an environmental impact statement prepared by the Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Zimmer said. The environmental impact statement will then be used in the creation of a Habitat Conservation Plan, which will allow foresters to apply for endangered species protections from both federal agencies.
"The advantage to the landowner, is that he gains a certain level of protection if he accidentally kills a listed species," Zimmer said.
While it is uncertain what changes may be made to Washington's forest rules, state Department of Natural Resources communications director Todd Myers said lawmakers considered this federal process while developing the state's forestry regulations
"Obviously, when they were coming up with the Forest and Fish Rules, there was discussion with the federal government." Myers said. "What we like to tell people is that Washington follows the highest level of environmental management perhaps in North America. It's more about whether the new rules are compatible, rather than what changes need to be made."
NOAA Fisheries spokesman Steve Keller said, however, changes to road regulations - particularly those requiring salmon - friendly retrofits to culverts - may draw criticism from foresters. He also said strengthening riparian - zone protections may not be well received, especially by smaller - acreage landowners.
The official notice follows:
March 17, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 51)]
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Department of the Interior.
ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given pursuant to the National Environmental
Policy Act, as amended (NEPA), that NOAA Fisheries and FWS (known
hereafter as the Services) intend to gather information necessary
DATES: Written scoping comments for the DEIS from all interested
parties must be received no later than 5 p.m. Pacific time on April
16, 2003. Interested parties may contact the Services for more information
at the addresses and phone numbers listed below. Four public scoping
workshops will be held in 2003. Each meeting will begin with a one-hour
open house to accommodate informal discussion and questions; the presentation
portion of the meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
The meeting dates and times are:
ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests for information should be
sent to Craig Hansen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond
Drive, S.E., Suite 102, Lacey, WA 98503-1273, telephone (360)753-6046,
facsimile (360)753-9518; or Steve Keller, NOAA Fisheries, 510 Desmond
Drive, S.E., Suite 103, Lacey, WA 98503-1273, telephone (360)534-9309,
facsimile (360)753 9517. Comments and materials received will be
The meeting locations are:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Keller, (360) 534-9309.
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