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Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan (SSMP)

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Management and Conservation

Date Published: February 29, 2008

Number of Pages: 375

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (the Department, WDFW) recognizes the importance of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) in the process of adopting the SSMP. The environmental impact statement (EIS) process provides opportunities for other agencies, stakeholders, the Tribes and the public to participate in developing and analyzing information. This process, as detailed in chapter 197-11 WAC, ensures that the Department and the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) understand the environmental consequences of decisions and considers mitigation of probable significant adverse environmental impacts when making decisions. The EIS process includes:

  • Scoping
  • Preparing a DEIS, which analyzes the probable impacts of a proposal and reasonable alternatives;
  • Issuing a DEIS for review and public comment;
  • Preparing a FEIS, which includes analyzing and responding to comments received on the DEIS;
  • Issuing a FEIS; and
  • Using the FEIS in decision-making.

The Department made a concerted effort to involve the public from the earliest stages of the plan. It developed an Ad Hoc Steelhead Stakeholder Group comprised of representatives from the Steelhead and Cutthroat Policy Advisory Group (SCPAG), and conducted monthly stakeholder meetings starting in July of 2006. Throughout the public meetings from July 2006 through April 2007 additional interested stakeholders were included in the steelhead stakeholder group. The Ad Hoc Steelhead Stakeholder Group was developed to receive regular input as the draft SSMP was developed. During the monthly steelhead meetings with departmental staff, stakeholders were authorized and encouraged to give presentations, suggest pertinent agenda topics, provide materials for departmental review, and set future meeting dates. All public comments received during the scoping process were reviewed by a departmental steelhead team and incorporated, where appropriate, in the SSMP. Their input is reflected in the Statewide Steelhead Plan, Statewide Policies, Strategies and Actions. All policy issues and most frequent concerns were grouped by themes and included in a memo “Statewide Steelhead Management Plan Response to Comments” (see Appendix B) released April 3, 2007 by the Department. The Department also received public testimony on the SSMP at the FWC meeting on February 2, 2008. Input from public testimony was also incorporated in the final SSMP dated February 29, 2008 (see Appendix A).

The Department also developed a steelhead website for stakeholders and interested public. The website includes information on the statewide steelhead planning process, public releases, the SEPA process, and stakeholder meetings. All documents and presentations during the monthly stakeholder meetings are included on the website. The SSMP, DEIS, and FEIS can be accessed at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/ .

The State Environmental Policy Act processes have been used to ensure public input into policy development. Key steps in the policy development process have been:

  1. A scoping notice was sent to more than 110 individuals and interested groups in August and December 2006.
  2. A Draft Scoping Paper for the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan (SSMP) was distributed to citizens and groups.
  3. Public meetings to hear citizen comments were held in August and September 2006 in the following locations: Port Angeles, Olympia, Vancouver, Tukwila, Mount Vernon and Ellensburg, Washington. Written comments were also received. Information from the public meetings and comments were available to guide state policy leaders. In May 2007, a draft alternatives table presented five possible options for public review. These alternatives were crafted from comments received during the initial scoping and monthly stakeholder meetings.
  4. Public testimony on the SSMP was taken at the FWC meeting on February 2, 2008.

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