The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has kicked off its public scoping process and scheduled public meetings to prepare a draft environmental impact statement to manage a large colony of double-crested cormorants nesting on East Sand Island in the Columbia River estuary.
The double-crested cormorant colony on East Sand Island has grown from 100 nesting pairs in 1989 to an estimated 13,000 nesting pairs in 2011, the largest single colony in western North America. The species is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This increase has led to concerns over their potential impact on the recovery of threatened and end angered Columbia River basin salmonids listed under the Endangered Species Act.
An interagency working group was formed in 2010 to address the role of double-crested cormorant predation in the estuary on the recovery of ESA-listed salmon. No decisions have been made regarding how to manage the colony. The group identified preliminary management alternatives, which included reducing the colony size on East Sand Island.
The full range of management alternatives to address the predation will be developed through the scoping process. Methods to reduce the colony's size could involve a combination of actions to dissuade cormorants from nesting on the island. These actions may include modifying available habitat; conducting hazing activities during the nesting season to prevent colony establishment; selecting a lethal component (collection of eggs, nests and/or possible take of adults); and monitoring cormorants as they leave the island to determine the potential impacts of their dispersal.
The Corps of Engineers, as the lead agency for the EIS, is working with its cooperating agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture –Animal Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Representatives from the Corps and the cooperating agencies will be on hand to discuss concerns or comments in an open house format. The meetings will be facilitated to encourage information sharing.
Nov. 8, 2012 - Olympia, Wash.
5 p.m. -8 p.m.
415 Capitol Way N
Olympia, WA 98501
Nov. 13, 2012- Portland, Ore.
5 p.m. -8 p.m.
Red Lion Lloyd Center
1021 NE Grand Avenue
Portland, OR 97232
Nov. 15, 2012 - Astoria, Ore.
5 p.m. -8 p.m.
Holiday Inn Express
204 West Marine Drive
Astoria, OR 97103
Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Corps' website for the EIS at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Currentprojects/CormorantEIS.aspx , to learn more about the issues and research concerning double-crested cormorants in the estuary, to find a schedule for the draft EIS and to sign up for a mailing list to receive updates during the EIS process. The public is strongly encouraged to review the materials on the website, contact the Corps for additional information and attend one of three public meetings in November.
Comments may be made in writing, electronically, by mail or over the phone. Comments will be categorized and summarized in a scoping report and used to inform the Corps' decision-making process. This is not the only opportunity for the public to provide input. There will be additional opportunities to comment during the EIS process. Mailed comments must be postmarked by Dec. 21, 2012 and sent to:
Sondra Ruckwardt, Project Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
P.O. Box 2946 Portland, Oregon 97208
The Corps of Engineers is the federal land manager of East Sand Island and the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act for the EIS. A Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2012, that announced the Corps' proposal to prepare a DEIS.