Goose EIS 2015 ~ Questions & Answers

Questions

  1. What is the Goose Project?
  2. Why is the Goose Project needed?
  3. Why is the McKenzie River Ranger District preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Goose Project?
  4. How has the public been informed about the Goose Project EIS?
  5. Will I have an opportunity to submit a comment on the Goose Project EIS?
  6. What type of comments are most effective?
  7. Will there be any public meetings or open houses to discuss the Goose Project and EIS?
  8. How do I make sure I receive updates on the Goose Project?
  9. Where can I find a copy of the Goose Project EIS?
  10. Where can I find more information on the Goose Project?

Answers

1. What is the Goose Project?
The Goose Project proposes to commercially harvest and reduce fuels on approximately 2,452 acres on the Willamette National Forest near the community of McKenzie Bridge, Oregon. Harvest treatments proposed include thinning, dominant tree release, gap creation, regeneration harvest and skips. Fuels treatments include mechanical treatments, post-harvest underburn, natural fuels underburn, and hazardous fuels treatments.
 

2. Why is the Goose Project needed?
The Goose Project is needed to provide a sustainable supply of timber products, reduce hazardous fuels in the McKenzie Bridge Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), and actively managed stands to improve stand conditions, diversity, density and structure.
 

3. Why is the McKenzie River Ranger District preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Goose Project?

In 2010, the McKenzie River Ranger District prepared an Environmental Assessment and approved a subsequent Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Goose Project.  The Decision Notice, approved September 13, 2010, selected Alternative 2, which approved thinning on 1,443 acres; dominant tree release on 11 acres; gap creation on 322 acres; regeneration harvest on 41 acres; and skips on 283 acres.

In November 2010, three organizations appealed the Goose Project.  Two appellants, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild, requested that the Responsible Official withdraw the decision and issue a new one adopting Alternative 3. The third appellant, American Forest Resource Council, requested the decision be remanded and Alternative 2 be selected without modification.  The Forest Service conducted an appeal review in accordance with 36 CFR 215 and regional procedures.  On December 16, 2010, the Appeal Deciding Officer determined the 2010 Decision Notice was in compliance with law, regulation, and policy and denied the appellants requested relief.  Implementation of the Goose Project began in 2011 with the sale of three contracts for timber harvest and removal.  Two timber sale contracts were awarded to Seneca Sawmill Company, and one to Freres Lumber Company Inc. 

On May 12, 2012, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild filed formal complaint against the Forest Service in the Unites States District Court for the District of Oregon (Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild vs USFS), effectively halting the Goose Project.  The plaintiffs (Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild) asserted the Forest Service failed to disclose environmental information, specifically habitat competition between the spotted owl and the barred owl and the consequences of logging in critical Riparian Reserves.  Plaintiffs further asserted the project proposed actions may significantly affect the environment and therefore, under NEPA requirements, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should have been prepared.  In March 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Aiken concluded that while the Forest Service did adequately disclose environmental information, the potentially significant effect to the environment from the Goose Project triggered NEPA’S requirement that the Forest Service prepare an EIS.  Accordingly, the Forest Service was enjoined from going forward with the Goose Project until an EIS has been prepared. 

An EIS has been prepared to revise the 2010 environmental analysis and decision for the Goose Project Environmental Analysis as directed by a 2013 U.S. District Court order. The EIS builds upon the original analysis while providing a more thorough analysis regarding habitat competition of barred owl on the northern spotted owl, support for the need to harvest in Riparian Reserves to achieve ACS objectives, and impacts to a potential wilderness area.  By preparing an EIS, the Willamette National Forest is fulfilling agency policy and direction to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other relevant Federal and State laws and regulations.
 

4. How has the public been informed about the Goose Project EIS?

Public involvement efforts during the development of the Goose Project EIS included public meetings, open-houses, scoping letters, field trips, meetings with interested parties and landowners, and publication of the project in the Willamette National Forest Schedule of Proposed Actions and Willamette National Forest website.  The following is a timeline illustrating public involvement efforts for the Goose Project:

  • April 30, 2014: Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS published in the Federal Register
  • April 24, 2014: May 1, 2014: District open-house public meetings at McKenzie Bridge, OR
  • May 2, 2014: Public meeting to discuss Goose Project held in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon
  • May 9, 2014: Public meeting to discuss Goose Project held in Leaburg, Oregon
  • May 27, 2014: Scoping letter and background information mailed to members of the public, organizations, and state/federal agencies that have expressed interest in receiving information on District projects
  • July1, 2014: Project published in the Willamette National Forest Schedule of Proposed Actions.

Additionally, the McKenzie River District Ranger met with the McKenzie Clearwater Coalition, the Upper McKenzie Lyons Club, Congressmen Peter DeFazio, staff from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office, and multiple landowners with property adjacent to the project area.  The District Ranger personally responded to over 150 emails and 50 phone calls regarding the project. 

Members of the public, organizations, and state/federal agencies were invited to provide comments and concerns about the Goose Project during the public scoping comment period from April 30th-June 16th, 2014.  Scoping comments received varied from those that wanted more clarification on proposed activities to specific suggestions for project implementation. Scoping comments were used to help develop planning issues, alternatives, and effects analysis.  All correspondence and comments are available in the Project Record at the McKenzie River Ranger District office.
 

5. Will I have an opportunity to submit a comment on the Goose Project EIS?

The EIS will be available for a 45-day public comment period, under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1500-1508) and 36 CFR Part 218, which replaced Notice, Comment, and Appeal procedures at 36 CFR 215. The Forest Service will accept comments during the official comment period that will be posted in a legal notice in the Register Guard, and on the Willamette National Forest's Website, following the publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register. 

Comments may also be mailed to:

Terry Baker, District Ranger
McKenzie River Ranger District
57600 McKenzie Highway
McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413

Comments, including anonymous comments, will be accepted at any time. However, comments received after the close of the official comment period may not be able to be given full consideration. Anonymous comments and comments submitted after the close of the official comment period will not provide the commenter standing for administrative review.  Communications from the public regarding this project, including commenter’s names and contact information, will become part of the public record.
 

6. What type of comments are most effective?

Many people simply wish to express their support or opposition to a project.  While the McKenzie River Ranger District is interested in your opinion, comments that only support or oppose the proposed project or an alternative provide little basis for change or improvements.  Specific, solution-oriented comments will be most effective and useful.  Factors that may help to organize your comments include:

  • Adequacy of the Analysis – disagreement with the conclusions of the effects in the analysis or the belief that the analysis is inadequate including specific reasons why you believe so (other research, scientific studies, professional opinions)
  • Alternatives or Design Features – suggestions of an alternative that wasn’t considered and would still meet the purpose and need for the project or design features that were not identified that would reduce adverse resource impacts
  • Inaccuracies and Discrepancies – due to factual information, data, or analysis.
     

7. Will there be any public meetings or open houses to discuss the Goose Project and EIS?
Two public meetings will be held on the following dates:

  • Leaburg Fire Hall - March 24th, 2015, 5:00pm-8:00pm
  • Upper McKenzie Community Center – March 25th, 2015, 5:00pm-8:00pm
     

8. How do I make sure I receive updates on the Goose Project?

9. Where can I find a copy of the Goose Project EIS?

10. Where can I find more information on the Goose Project?