Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Soda Fire (2015): Burned Area Emergency Response - Intro (2 of 3)

My introduction to the Soda Fire (2015): Burned Area Emergency Response has morphed into three parts. (Part 1 may be found here) Next week I will write more about some of the treatments and activities that are included in the Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (Soda Fire ES&R). But first, I am going to spend a little time in this article giving a brief description of the Soda Fire ES&R planning document and a couple of documents tied into Federal and State regulations (discussed below). I will be referring to these documents in later articles so it is appropriate to provide this brief introduction. I will be posting my final introductory article (part 3) on November 27th on Secretarial Order 3336.

Before I go any further, for those of you who might want to bypass my brief description of the documents I discuss below and get right to learning more about the Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation, please go to the Idaho BLM page on the Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation and/or the Soda Fire (2015) Facebook Page (should be available to public without a Facebook account).

One of the many pieces of Federal and State Legislation and Regulations that those who prepared the Soda Fire ESR Plan (released on September 30, 2015) had to consider and be in compliance with is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). See the Soda Fire ESR Final Decision (p. 4-5) for a full listing of Federal and State legislation and regulations as well as Land Use Plans that the Soda Fire ESR Plan conforms with.

NEPA and the various types of documents that NEPA requires are somewhat complicated. In searching for a simple explanation of NEPA, I came upon a nice webpage from the Colorado Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that briefly describes how the BLM uses NEPA. They refer to the Colorado BLM but I believe that their description applies to the Idaho and Oregon BLM:
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assures that the BLM (and other federal agencies) will consider the impact of an action on the human environment before decisions are made and the action is taken. It requires that NEPA documents concentrate on issues that are significant to the action in question. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make better decisions based on an understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the human environment.
When an activity or action is proposed on BLM administered public lands in Colorado, we conduct an interdisciplinary review of the environmental effects of the proposal so that the relevant environmental information is available to citizens and public officials. (obtained on November 24, 2015 from the Colorado Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
In regards to NEPA and the Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation, I believe that the other activity or action referred to above is the the Soda Fire ES&R planning document.

The first step in preparing the ES&R planning document is that an Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ES&R) team (aka the Soda Fire Interdisciplinary Team) started field work on or about August 20th. Recall that the Soda Fire was contained on August 23rd. The ES&R team did five days of field work, finishing on or about August 25, 2015. See these two news releases for more information:
Public participation is an important part of this process. According to the news releases on the Inciweb Soda Fire Post Rehab news release page the ES&R team met with various members of the public including but not limited to Ranchers and other private landowners, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, and representatives of nearby State and Local agencies. The Soda Fire ESR Plan was released on September 30, 2015 (see below).

Note, the Inciweb Soda Fire Post Rehab page is still available as I write this, but is no longer being updated.

If you go to the document page for the Soda Fire ESR/BAER Plan there are three documents listed as of November 25, 2015. I will be referring to some or all of these documents in later documents.
  • Soda Fire ESR Plan (released September 30, 2015) The ESR plan outlines costs and treatments under the Soda Fire ES&R Plan for Oregon and Idaho.
  • Soda Fire ESR Plan Determination of NEPA Adequacy (DNA) (released October 19, 2015) "documents that previously prepared NEPA documents adequately describe the environmental consequences of a newly proposed action" (obtained on November 24, 2015 from In our case, I believe that the newly proposed action is the Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Plan.
  • Soda Fire ESR Final Decision (released October 19, 2015). This is a notice of the BLM Manager’s Final Decision regarding the Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Plan. That is, the Boise ID BLM District  and the Vale OR District determined that the an Environmental Impact Statement is not required (see this NEPA definition page from the Colorado BLM for a very brief defintion of an Environmental Impact Statement). Both Managers say: "With completion of DOI-BLM-ID-B030-2015-0016-DNA, I have determined that implementing proposed Soda Fire ESR treatments identified in this decision would have similar or the same effects as described in the NEPA documents identified above and does not constitute as a major Federal action that will not adversely impact the human environment.  Therefore the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is not required" (Soda Fire ESR Final Decision, p. 6 and p 21).

No comments: