Please support county wildlife and habitat by asking the county to expand the scope of its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review of plants and animals. Under current plans, the county will rely on state and local information that is not complete or comprehensive, and in some cases, may not be current. I have prepared a scoping comment below to provide an example of what to say in your own letter. Please feel free to copy my sample, or draft a comment of your own.
The scoping process is open for public comment until April 7th, and can be sent to email@example.com. More information is available on the county website under the link for the EIS Scoping Document. http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/pds/plan/lr/compplan/updates.jsp.
SCOPE OF EIS PLANT AND ANIMAL REVIEW
Please expand the scope of the plant and animal EIS review to include: 1) habitat, numbers and diversity of species and plants throughout the county, with special emphasis on county owned parks and open space; 2) unique species, and; 3) bird and wildlife migration routes and habitat connectivity.
Whatcom County lacks a comprehensive, county-wide, quantifiable wildlife and habitat review and assessment that is supported by field investigation. Wildlife issues cannot be reviewed on a site-specific basis and require detailed analysis on a comprehensive landscape scale.
We need data to create a baseline standard that can measure and monitor the status of local plants and animals to protect against a loss in ecological function. The proposed scope of the EIS review is not sufficient to create a functional baseline standard.
We need to expand the EIS scope to determine the following issues:
· whether county comprehensive plans and zoning protect against a net loss of biodiversity. This should be quantifiable and measurable.
· whether adequate and/or appropriate mitigation is being required for development.
· whether we are protecting genetically distinct and biologically significant local species, such as Cherry Point herring, and the North/Middle Fork and South Chinook Salmon, or regionally significant habitat such as the Chuckanut Wildlife Corridor.
· where and to what extent aquatic invasive species are a threat.
· whether county policies to remove and/or kill “nuisance” species such as beaver, elk, deer, starlings and geese are appropriate, effective or an appropriate public expense.
· whether the parks department is dedicating and protecting adequate open space and habitat for local species and habitat connectivity.
· whether roads, fences, trails, infrastructure and utilities are being sited in locations that create barriers for wildlife and a habitat sink.
· whether adequate information is available during site specific permit reviews to protect larger ecosystem functions.
· Data is needed to develop wildlife management policies and procedures. Currently, the county has none. We need to protect wildlife while avoiding human/wildlife conflicts.
Thank you for considering my concerns as part of the EIS analysis for the 2016 county comprehensive plan update process.