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header image: Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam Environmental Impact Statement


Scoping Summary

Description Of The Scoping Process

Scoping is an early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues to be analyzed in depth related to a proposed action. The proposed action for this environmental impact statement (EIS) is to operate Flaming Gorge Dam to implement the flow and temperature recommendations provided by the Recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Fish Species in the Upper Colorado River Basin (Recovery Program) for endangered fishes in the Green River downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam

The Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS scoping process was initiated on June 6, 2000, to receive public comment on and to determine the appropriate scope of the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS, consistent with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The formal scoping period ended on September 5, 2000. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the federal agency with administrative and regulatory authority over Flaming Gorge Dam, is the lead agency for preparation of the EIS.

The purpose of the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS is not to identify and evaluate alternatives that maximize all natural resources upstream and downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam. The purpose of this EIS is to evaluate the impacts of implementing the flows recommended by the Recovery Program to protect and assist in the recovery of the populations and designated critical habitat of the endangered fishes living in the Green River downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam.

The proposed scope of the analysis for this EIS will focus on responding to the following analysis question:

If Reclamation operates Flaming Gorge Dam to achieve the flow recommendations needed to protect and assist in the recovery of the endangered fishes and their critical habitat in the Green River, then the effects(s) on other relevant resources/issues, both downstream and upstream from the dam, would be . . .

Scoping conducted for this EIS is being used to identify issues associated with the proposed action and its purpose and need. Scoping will also be used to identify other significant resources that may be affected, identify the interested party or parties affected by the proposed action, and assist Reclamation in developing reasonable alternatives that are consistent with the intent of the flow recommendations.

Reclamation will use the scoping process not only to identify significant environmental issues deserving study, but also to de-emphasize insignificant issues, narrowing the scope of the EIS process accordingly. During the scoping process, Reclamation invited comments suggesting a reasonable geographic scope of analysis for the EIS (how far upstream/downstream from the dam impacts could be meaningfully evaluated).

As part of the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS scoping process, Reclamation completed the following:

  • Invited the participation of affected federal, state, and local agencies; Indian Tribes; and other interested persons or parties.
  • Identified and eliminated from detailed study issues which were not significant or which had been covered by previous environmental review, narrowing the discussion of those issues to a brief account of why they would not have a significant effect on the human environment or a reference to their coverage elsewhere.
  • Allocated assignments for preparation of the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS among the lead and cooperating agencies, with Reclamation, as the lead agency, retaining responsibility for the EIS.
  • Indicated any environmental assessments or EISs that were being prepared or that would be prepared in the future that were related to but were not part of the scope of the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS.
  • Identified other environmental review and consultation requirements so that the lead and cooperating agencies could prepare other required analyses and studies concurrently and integrated with the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS.
  • Defined the scope of the environmental analysis in terms of types of actions, impacts, and alternatives.
  • Indicated the relationship between the timing of the preparation of environmental analyses and the responsible agency's tentative planning and decision-making schedule.
Scoping Activities

A significant effort was undertaken to inform the public and other interested parties about Reclamation's intent to prepare an EIS on the operation of Flaming Gorge Dam, the subsequent public scoping meetings, and the array of opportunities to provide public comment. The formal scoping period for the EIS was from June 6, 2000, to September 5, 2000 (90 days). While the end of the scoping period was announced and published as September 5, 2000, comments pertinent to the scope and significance of issues to be addressed in this EIS were accepted at any time during the EIS process. The September 5, 2000, deadline was established in an attempt to obtain as much information from the public, early enough in the process, to facilitate the subsequent assessment of resource impacts.

The following methods were utilized by Reclamation to publicize the EIS process:

1. A Notice of Intent to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Announcement of Public Scoping Meetings was published in theFederal Register on June 6, 2000. A corresponding press release announcing that Reclamation was beginning the EIS process for Flaming Gorge Dam was issued on that same date. The June 6 press release was sent to Reclamation's Upper Colorado region-wide media outlets for the states of Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as to all of the local offices of the Senators and Representatives for the states of Utah and Wyoming. A similar press release was issued to Reclamation's Upper Colorado region-wide media list on March 1, 1999, but due to delays in the flow recommendations and computer modeling, the EIS process was delayed until June 2000. The June 6 Federal Register notice and the June 6 press release were immediately posted to Reclamation's web page at http://www.uc.usbr.gov.

2. During the week of June 12, 2000, copies of the Notice of Intent, June 6 press release, scoping meeting information, and summary of the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS process were sent to Reclamation's proposed cooperating agency contacts for their use in notifying their specific publics. The scoping meeting information and summary of the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS process were posted to Reclamation's web page the week of June 26, 2000.

3. On June 27, 2000, a media advisory and press packet containing the Notice of Intent, June 6 press release, fact sheet, brochure, map of the study area, background information, scoping meeting information, summary of the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS process, photographs, and b-roll video footage were sent to 28 print, radio, and television outlets in the states of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. The June 27 media advisory was immediately posted to Reclamation's web page.

4. On June 30, 2000, information regarding Reclamation's process for the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS and scoping meeting information schedule was provided for distribution to the public at the Flaming Gorge Dam Visitor Center, Flaming Gorge Yacht Club, and Flaming Gorge Lodge. These handouts included information on the purposes of Flaming Gorge Dam as an authorized storage unit of the Colorado River Storage Project.

5. On June 30, 2000, a letter to "dear interested parties" containing information on scoping and a "mail-back" post card to stay on Reclamation's Flaming Gorge Dam EIS mailing list were sent to a list of approximately 1,000 interested parties.

6. A Public Scoping Notice was published in the Daily Rocket-Miner in Rock Springs, Wyoming, on August 16, 2000, and August 23, 2000. The same Public Scoping Notice was published in the Green River Star on August 17, 2000, and the Sweetwater Guide on August 22, 2000. The Scoping Notice briefly described the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS process and the purpose of the proposed action for the EIS. It also invited the public to provide their comments to the EIS team by September 5, 2000.

7. On September 14, 2000, Ed Vidmar, Supervisory Civil Engineer and head of Reclamation's Flaming Gorge Working Group, gave a presentation on past, present, and anticipated future operations of Flaming Gorge Dam at the Sweetwater County Library in Green River, Wyoming. The presentation was aimed at addressing the purpose and need of the EIS and answering questions related to public misconceptions about the scope of the EIS. Mr. Vidmar reiterated that although the formal scoping comment period had expired, public comments were being accepted at any time during the EIS process. A press release was sent out on August 30, 2000, to all media outlets in the state of Wyoming announcing the presentation.

8. On September 18, 2000, the Flow and Temperature Recommendations for Endangered Fishes in the Green River Downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam report was made available to the public at http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/dsp_detail.cfm?PubID=42.

9. Mr. Tony Morton and Mr. Kerry Schwartz, co-team leaders for the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS, provided a "standing offer" to set up mutually agreeable times and meeting locations to meet informally with any individuals or groups to discuss the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS, the proposed action, and/or the NEPA process.

10. On November 16, 2000, Larry Crist, Tony Morton, and Kerry Schwartz of Reclamation and John Shields of the Wyoming State Engineer's Office assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel at a public meeting held at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyoming. The meeting was requested by Senator Craig Thomas' southwestern Wyoming representative, Pati Smith, to present information about the Recovery Program and its relationship to the EIS.

Scoping Meeting Information

Public scoping meetings were held in mid-July in Salt Lake City, Vernal, and Fort Duchesne, Utah; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Rock Springs, Wyoming. All scoping meetings started at 6 p.m. and began with a one-hour open house where the public could view exhibits, informally discuss issues, and ask questions of staff and managers. Each open house was followed by a formal scoping session beginning at 7 p.m. Scoping meetings were held at the following dates and locations:

  • July 11, 2000, 6-9 p.m., Wyndham Hotel, 215 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • July 12, 2000, 6-9 p.m., Rock Springs Holiday Inn, 1675 Sunset Drive (I-80 Exit 102), Rock Springs, Wyoming
  • July 13, 2000, 6-9 p.m., Adam's Mark Hotel, 743 Horizon Drive (I-70 Exit 31), Grand Junction, Colorado
  • July 18, 2000, 6-9 p.m., Western Park Convention Center, 300 East 200 South, Vernal, Utah
  • July 19, 2000, 6-9 p.m., Ute Tribal Headquarters, 988 South 7500 East, Fort Duchesne, Utah

Meeting sites were selected to provide centralized locations for public comment by as many persons as feasible, as reflected by public interest in past activities or anticipated interest in future activities involving Flaming Gorge Dam operations and its impacts. Meeting sites were chosen that offered the necessary facilities needed to conduct a public meeting in locations that attendees could travel to easily. Locations were selected that offered a mix of public interests and concerns as opposed to locations that were thought to have only a single-issue focus.

Meetings averaged two to three hours in length. A total of 186 attendees registered at the five public scoping meetings and verbal comments were received from 55 persons. The breakdown for each meeting is given below:

  • Salt Lake City, Utah 31 attendees and 17 speakers
  • Rock Springs, Wyoming 87 attendees and 18 speakers
  • Grand Junction, Colorado 17 attendees and 3 speakers
  • Vernal, Utah 46 attendees and 12 speakers
  • Fort Duchesne, Utah 5 attendees and 5 speakers
Scoping Meeting Procedures

Although meeting rooms and circumstances dictated some variation, each meeting was set up and conducted with similar arrangements and followed the same format and procedure so as to obtain consistency. The meeting "ground rules," or public scoping procedures, were explained briefly in the Federal Register Notice of Intent and in more detail in the welcoming remarks given by the co-team leaders for the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS. The public scoping procedures explained the purpose of the meeting, order of the meeting, time allotted to each speaker, order of speakers, expected common courtesies, and how and when additional written comments could be provided to Reclamation.

EIS team members at the registration desk provided sign-up cards to all meeting attendees that included name, address, telephone number, affiliation (if any), and e-mail address. A speaker sign-in book was also provided at the registration desk for people wishing to provide oral comments at the meetings. A public comment card was available at the registration desk to facilitate written comments. The comment card briefly explained the Flaming Gorge Dam EIS process and provided a space for comments to be received no later than September 5, 2000.

The Federal Register Notice of Intent and the public comment card explained that it is Reclamation's practice to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual respondents may request that Reclamation withhold their home address from public disclosure, which Reclamation will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which Reclamation may withhold a respondent's identify from public disclosure, as allowable by law. If a member of the public would like Reclamation to withhold their name and/or address, they must state this prominently at the beginning of their comment or place a check mark in the appropriate box on the public comment card. Reclamation will make all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public disclosure in their entirely. Written comments were encouraged, although comments were welcomed in any form at any time during the EIS process.

Large visual displays along with other materials and handouts prepared by Reclamation on the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS were available at each meeting. Materials provided by cooperating agencies were also on display at the meetings. In addition, materials provided by organizations opposing Flaming Gorge Dam were made available for the public at a table away from official Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS materials. The Glen Canyon Action Network distributed materials at the scoping meetings in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Grand Junction, Colorado.

A head table seating the co-team leaders and other members of the EIS team was at the front of each meeting room. A timekeeper was located at the front of the room who gave speakers a one-minute warning and advised them when their five-minute period had passed. All comments were formally recorded by an official court reporter who was also seated at the front of the room. The court reporter provided a verbatim transcript of each meeting that became part of the public record for the NEPA process.

Each meeting began with welcoming remarks from the co-team leaders. In their remarks, the team leaders introduced themselves and any others seated with them at the head table and explained that they were present to listen and receive public comment, not discuss or debate public points of view. They pointed out other EIS team members and federal officials that were present, stated that they would be jointly conducting/facilitating the meeting, briefly explained the NEPA process and Reclamation's commitment to objective development of the EIS with careful consideration of all points of view, and explained the purpose of the EIS and what the EIS would describe.

The team leaders stated that the NEPA process is a very public one and that the public scoping meetings were the first step. They explained that Reclamation was conducting the public scoping meetings to receive both written and verbal comments or suggestions concerning the scope of the issues to be assessed in the draft EIS. The team leaders emphasized that the purpose of this EIS is not to identify and evaluate alternatives that maximize all natural resources upstream and downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam. They explained that the purpose of this EIS is to evaluate the impacts of implementing the Recovery Program's flow recommendations so as to protect and assist in the recovery of the populations and designated critical habitat of the endangered fishes living in the Green River downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam.

The co-team leaders explained that information obtained from the public at the scoping meetings will be used to identify issues associated with the proposed action and its purpose and need. The public's input will also be used to help the EIS team identify other significant resources that may be affected, identify any interested parties affected by the proposed action, and assist Reclamation in developing reasonable alternatives that are consistent with the intent of the flow recommendations. The geographic scope of the EIS -- how far upstream or downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam can impacts be meaningfully evaluated -- had not yet been determined. Reclamation invited public comments suggesting a reasonable geographic scope of analysis for the EIS.

The team leaders informed those in attendance that after the draft EIS is complete, Reclamation will publicly announce, through the news media and Federal Register, that the document is available for public review and comment.

The team leaders also described the recording, processing, and use of comments from the meeting; welcomed additional written comments; and called on speakers on a first-come, first-serve basis as reflected in the speaker sign-in book. On-deck speakers were announced two at a time. A podium and microphone were set up at the front of the room (facing the head table) for persons presenting comments. Any person who signed up to speak, but was not present or prepared to speak when called upon, was given at least one additional opportunity during the meeting to come forward and present his/her comments. At the end of the meeting, an opportunity was made available for any persons in the audience who wished to speak but had not signed up, or for speakers who wished to supplement their comments. It was noted by the team leaders that written and verbal comments were given the same consideration under the NEPA process. The team leaders also explained that even though Reclamation had indicated an ending time of 9 p.m. for each meeting, the EIS team would stay as long as it took to allow all of those who wished to speak that opportunity.

Meeting Notes

A court reporter provided a verbatim transcript of each meeting. These notes were used by the EIS team in their content analysis of scoping meeting comments and assisted in the comment coding process. The co-team leaders and other members of the EIS team that attended the scoping meetings also took notes of what transpired at each meeting.

Issues and Resources of Concern

In addition to the verbal comments provided at the five public scoping meetings, Reclamation received 175 form letters, 510 e-mail messages, signed petitions with a total of 1,476 signatures, and 40 letters and postcards from individuals and organizations.

The comments from each oral presentation and written statement were separated according to the particular issue or resource of concern and placed into appropriate categories. A total of 2,270 separate comments were derived from the verbal statements given and the letters, e-mail messages, petitions, and postcards received.

Each comment was read, analyzed, and placed within one or more of the following categories:

  • Cultural resources
  • Dam operations
  • Decommissioning the dam
  • Disease vectors (mosquitos)
  • EIS/NEPA process (proposed action, purpose and need, scope)
  • Facilities (dam and powerplant)
  • Recreational user fees
  • Riparian/wetlands
  • Fishery (reservoir and river)
  • Fish and wildlife (other than endangered species)
  • Humans vs. endangered species
  • Land use (agriculture, national parks)
  • Resource impact mitigation
  • Power generation and marketing
  • River and reservoir recreation
  • Socio-economics (tourism-related jobs, income)
  • Threatened and endangered species
  • Water (conservation, drought, flood control, river flows, water quality, water rights, water safety, water supply, water temperature, and water use)

Based upon the scoping results and existing laws and regulations, the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS will most likely contain an analysis of the following issues and resources of concern:

  • Aquatic resources
  • Biodiversity
  • Cultural resources
  • Disease vectors (mosquitos)
  • EIS/NEPA process (proposed action, purpose and need, scope, alternatives)
  • Environmental justice
  • Facilities (dam and powerplant operations and maintenance, dam safety)
  • Indian trust assets
  • Recreational user fees
  • Riparian/wetlands
  • Fish and wildlife (other than endangered species)
  • Land use (agriculture, national parks)
  • Power generation and marketing
  • Reservoir limnology
  • River and reservoir fisheries
  • River and reservoir recreation
  • Setting (geology, climate)
  • Socio-economics (tourism-related jobs, income)
  • Threatened and endangered species
  • Water (conservation, drought, flood control, river flows, water quality, water rights, water safety, water supply, water temperature, and water use)

The Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam EIS will also include a discussion of the following topics:

  • Direct and indirect impacts
  • Cumulative impacts
  • Unavoidable adverse impacts
  • Impacts on other federal and non-federal projects and plans
  • Alternatives to the proposed action
  • Mitigation measures/environmental commitments
  • Relationship between short-term uses and long-term productivity
  • Irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources
  • Adaptive management

The form letters and e-mail messages received primarily supported implementation of the flow recommendations for endangered fish in the Green River, with many calling for an evaluation of dam decommissioning. The signed petitions received were directed at supporting the existing reservoir and river recreation uses, including the trout fishery. The comment letters received reflected the spectrum of both of these concerns, but in more detail.

The scoping process is not a solicitation of support or opposition for operating Flaming Gorge Dam to recover endangered fish. It is also not a vote used to determine whether a particular resource should be given greater consideration over another in the EIS. Scoping is an ongoing process meant to provide the lead and cooperating agencies with the biological and sociological focus needed to understand the overall impacts to the human environment from implementation of the proposed action. The biological and sociological analyses are intended to be sufficient for Reclamation to make an informed decision on how best to implement the proposed action with the least overall adverse impacts to the resources of concern.

Conclusion

Issue- and resource-specific information gleaned from the comments received was provided to the appropriate resource specialists on the EIS team for their use in completing their resource impact assessments. The complete text of every verbal and written response was also made available to the resource specialists upon request. Each and every comment that was received will be considered by the EIS team and appropriate resource specialists as to its applicability and appropriateness to the proposed action, the purpose and need of the proposed action, and the extent to which the comment contributes to a reasonable decision.

 

Last updated: January 22, 2007