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Longer Comment Time For Basin Study Project

From Staff And Wire Reports

An outpouring of demand is prompting the federal government to extend the public comment period on a sweeping environmental study of the Pacific Northwest by four months.

That means people have until Feb. 6 of next year to tell the agency what management option they want selected from the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project.

“We want to provide a reasonable opportunity and quality time for the public to read, comprehend, and comment on one or both of the two draft environmental impact statements,” said Martha Hahn, Idaho director for the Bureau of Land management.

The environmental studies are considered the most comprehensive forest and rangeland study every conceived and are an outgrowth of President Bill Clinton’s 1993 Forest Summit. They examine natural resource management on BLM and Forest Service land in all of Idaho and parts of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon and Washington.

The project was initiated in 1993. It is designed to take a broader look at environmental and economic issues, such as endangered salmon, problems with forest and rangeland health, and the changing economies of the area.

In part, the study found that logging, mining and grazing are directly responsible for only 4 percent of the economy across the 144-million-acre study area.

The Forest Service and BLM have received about 250 individual letters as well as about 8,000 postcards that were provided by environmental interests for people who wanted to have a say in the outcome.

The agencies also continue to receive several requests for the draft environmental studies. , DataTimes

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