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).
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:
- 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 http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Information/nepa/definitions.html#documentation_of_nepa_adequacy. 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).