The Willamette Valley System Operations and Maintenance Environmental Impact Statement Public Scoping report has been released. View it here

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CENWP-PME-E
ATTN: Kelly Wingard
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, OR 97208-2946

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willamette.eis@usace.army.mil

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Willamette Valley System Environmental Impact Statement

The Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to address the continued operations and maintenance of the Willamette Valley System in accordance with authorized project purposes; while meeting Endangered Species Act obligations to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of listed species.

Cottage Grove Dam and Reservoir sits on the Coast Fork of the Willamette River, south of Eugene, Oregon. Cottage Grove is one 13 dams and reservoirs in the Willamette Valley System and the Corps’ continued operations and maintenance of the facility will be evaluated in the system-wide Environmental Impact Statement slated to kick-off this spring.

Background

Foster Dam and Reservoir manages water coming from the South Santiam River, and is located in Sweet Home, Oregon. Foster Dam and its accompanying facilities will be part of the Willamette Valley System Environmental Impact Statement. Additional facilities included at Foster are an Adult Fish Collection Facility and a fish hatchery.

The Corps operates and maintains 13 multipurpose dams and reservoirs in the Willamette River Basin in Oregon, and hatchery programs.

The most recent NEPA evaluation for the overall Willamette Valley System operations and maintenance was an EIS completed in 1980. Since 1980, operations have been modified and structural improvements for fish passage and temperature control have been implemented to address effects of the WVS on ESA-listed fish. NEPA evaluations since the 1980 EIS have been project-specific. There is also new information relevant to the environmental impacts of operating the WVS.

The Corps has re-initiated formal consultation under Section 7 of the ESA on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s 2008 Biological Opinion for the Willamette River Basin Flood Control Project. This NEPA process will inform the ESA Section 7 consultation process. Additionally, the Corps intends to initiate consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Progress Report

Army engineers and planners continue developing the EIS for the Willamette Valley System that will address the continued operations and maintenance of the System in accordance with authorized project purposes; while meeting Endangered Species Act obligations to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of listed species.

As part of this planning process, the Corps is offering the public the chance to view the progress, through virtual reality. Corps staff encourages the public to view a virtual room, which contains videos, digital boards, slides and maps that should help attendees understand the purpose of the EIS and the National Environmental Policy Act process. Additionally, the materials lay out the purpose of the EIS as well as the alternatives identified.

The virtual room is available now.

Upcoming Public Meetings

The Corps hosted five public meetings in June 2019. 

As part of the EIS development, the Corps held a virtual information session, Jan. 19, 2022 to show the public its progress. A recording of that session is available, here. Slides of the meeting are available, here.

The next opportunity for public comment will be when the Draft EIS is released, tentatively fall 2022.

River Basin Balancer Game

Try your hand at balancing the authorized purposes for operating a main stem inland waterway. Even though this game was designed for the Missouri River Basin, many of the principles apply to Portland District's management of dams in the Willamette and Rogue river basins.

The River Basin Balancer Game offers insight into an inland waterway and a system of reservoirs, which are operated with a goal for serving each of the benefits, flood risk management, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality, for which many USACE reservoirs were authorized and constructed. Users can take charge of river operations and experience the unique challenges presented when managing reservoir operations in a variety of weather conditions across a geographically diverse basin. 

Click the image to play the game

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NEPA - The Environmental Policy Act Process, Scoping Phase and Your Role

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is one of the nation’s oldest environmental laws that encourages federal agencies to make environmentally responsible decisions. NEPA requires all federal agencies to consider and disclose the environmental effects of their proposed actions in an EIS. The Citizen's Guide to NEPA explains this law and how to effectively submit your input.

Per NEPA, an EIS assessing impacts of the proposed project on the human environment will be provided to the public for review and comment. The public will be notified when opportunities for comment arise. Currently, the Corps is in the “scoping” phase of the EIS.  “Scoping” is an early step in the process when the public is invited to provide substantive information and identify issues and potentially significant effects to be considered in the EIS.  The scoping phase is an important aspect of the EIS process, as collecting the right level of information at the right time is important to formulating action alternatives and identifying the depth and breadth of issues to be evaluated in the EIS.  Early and frequent engagement of all affected federal, state and local agencies, Native American Tribes and interested groups and individuals is important to ensuring that the Corps captures in the scope of the EIS, those issues that are important to the public.

Public scoping comments help the Corps:

  • Define the breadth of environmental resources and affects to evaluate.

  • Identify alternatives to be considered.

  • Determine new sources of data or information.

  • Identify and eliminate from detailed study issues that are not significant or that have been covered by prior environmental review.

Examples of areas for evaluation in the EIS include:

Air Quality
Cultural Resources
Floodplain Management
Economic Impacts
Environmental Justice
Land Use
Migratory Birds
Social Considerations
Endangered Species Act
Tribal Interests
Vegetation
Wetlands
Water Quality

Environmental Impact Statement Public Input Opportunities

Scoping - Complete

Notice for public input. Comment deadline closed June 28, 2019. 

Collect information, ideas and concerns from public, tribes, agencies and others to consider.

This input informs the analysis of potential effects, the suite of alternatives that meet the project's purpose and need, and the criteria for evaluation and comparison of alternatives. 

In addition to Scoping, there will be other opportunities to comment (public meetings, website, letters, e-mails, etc.) and meet with the project team. Once we have a draft EIS, the public will be provided an opportunity to review and supply comments. The Corps will consider these comments when finalizing the EIS. The public will then be provided an opportunity to review the final EIS.

Draft EIS - In Development

Identify alternatives to be assessed in detail and compare direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the alternatives and select the preferred plan.

Notice of availability for public review & comment.

The Draft EIS and preferred alternative are available for agency, tribal, and public review and comment.

Final EIS

Prepare and publish the final EIS, which will include responses to substantive comments.

Notice of availability for public review.

Record of Decision

Record of Decision completes the Corps' NEPA process.