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Posted 6/12/2014

Release no. 14-040

Diana Fredlund

PORTLAND, ORE. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comment on a draft Environmental Impact Statement to reduce predation on juvenile salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act by a large population of double-crested cormorants in the Columbia River estuary.

Development and implementation of a double-crested cormorant management plan to reduce avian predation is required under the Corps’ ESA consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service for the operation of the hydropower dams that make up the Federal Columbia River Power System. While predation rates vary from year to year, double-crested cormorants from East Sand Island on average have consumed 11 million juvenile salmon and steelhead annually over the past 15 years.

The draft EIS and executive summary can be found on the Corps’ webpage at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Currentprojects/CormorantEIS.aspx.  Members of the public may provide written comments on the draft EIS and the Corps’ preferred alternative during the 45-day comment period between June 19 and Aug. 4, 2014. For more information about how to provide comments and learn more about potential management approaches, visit the Corps’ website.

“The Corps and the cooperating agencies on this effort evaluated complex issues to identify a plan with the greatest likelihood of reducing predation on ESA-listed fish,” Lt. Col. Glenn Pratt, Portland District Deputy Commander, said. “Our preferred alternative, with its combination of components, advances our efforts and stands well to reduce significant predation damage.”

The draft EIS details a range of management alternatives evaluated to address the predation, including both non-lethal and lethal management approaches.
The Corps’ Portland District is the federal land manager of East Sand Island and the lead agency for the National Environmental Policy Act process. The agency is working with its cooperating agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal Plant Health Inspection Service – Wildlife Services, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Representatives from these agencies will be available during open houses and webinars during the comment period.

 Open houses and webinars will provide EIS information and discussion opportunities during the comment period.

Portland Open House
Thursday, July 10, 2014
2:30-5:30 p.m.
Matt Dishman Community Center
77 N.E. Knott St., Portland, Ore.

Astoria Open House
Thursday, July 24, 2014
3-6 p.m.
Best Western Lincoln Inn
555 Hamburg Ave., Astoria, Ore.

Webinar and Conference Call
Access both webinar/conference call sessions using the same phone number, web meeting and access information.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Monday, July 21
1:30-3:00 p.m

To learn more about how to participate in the scheduled webinars visit the Corps’ webpage.

Questions or written comments on the draft EIS should refer to public notice CENWP-PM-E-14-08. Written comments are welcome through email, traditional mail or at the open houses. The Corps will categorize, summarize, respond to and consider comments to inform the decision-making process. 
Submit comments to:
Sondra Ruckwardt, Project Manager
Attn: CENWP-PM-E-14-08
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, OR 97208 
Email: Cormorant-EIS@usace.army.mil

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Columbia River corps double-crested cormorants draft EIS salmonids