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Mineral King and the Environment Part I

Scheduled to be released some time in the year 2003 is the Sequoia General Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS reports will strongly affect decisions regarding the future of the Mineral King Historic Living Community.

The Environmental Impact Statement

Questions and Answers

What is an Environmental Impact Statement?

An environmental impact statement (EIS) is a report on studies conducted to define all possible impacts that proposed development and/or management plans may have on an area's surrounding environment.

How is an EIS connected with the Mineral King community?

In Sequoia's General Management plan, an EIS must be presented on all areas affected by the plan including Mineral King. It is required by law that any major plans formulated for public lands include an EIS. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 mandates every EIS fully disclose the key impacts or consequences of any proposed major federal actions.

What laws and regulations guide the studies undertaken for an EIS?

Included are National Park Service and Forest Service Management Acts; the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations; Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations; the Endangered Species Act; Wilderness Act; Clean Water Act; National Historic Preservation Act; and National Park Service and Forest Service directives.

What individuals, organizations and agencies may participate in the formulation of an EIS?

Examples include national, regional and local Park Service and Forest Service teams; the state Lands Commission; state Department of Parks and Recreation; state Department of Transportation; Water Quality and Control Board; U.S. Fish and Wildlife; regional and county planning departments; affected organizations and communities (for the 1983 Mineral King Land Protection Plan the Mineral King District Homeowners Association was consulted); Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the state Historic Preservation Officer.

What is included in an EIS?

A summary of proposed development and/or management plans. Reports of a plan's possible impacts on resource protection including air quality; soils; watersheds, wetlands and flood plains; fisheries; natural growth including sensitive plants; wildlife including sensitive, endangered or threatened species; scenic resources; human environment including societal aspects and aesthetic experiences; heritage resources (sites, structures, buildings, districts and objects associated with or representative of peoples, cultures and human activities and events; historical resources (logging, ranching, grazing, mining and seasonal recreationists including cabin communities such as Mineral King); adverse environmental effects which can not be avoided should the proposal be implemented; relationships between short term uses and long term effects on resources; irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources in which lost opportunities or depleted resources can not be recovered.

What is the typical process of an EIS?

  • Study teams are employed to research various environmental concerns of proposed plans and prepare reports on Environmental Assessments (EA)
  • A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is formulated.
  • The DEIS is presented to individuals, organizations and agencies with an interest in the proposed plans. (e.g. Mineral King cabin owners, National Parks and Conservation Assoc., Tulare County Board of Supervisors etc.)
  • A comment and evaluation period follows with input requested from the public and affected parties.
  • The DEIS is re-evaluated and appropriate changes made. A revised DEIS may be presented for further comment and evaluation.
  • The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is printed and presented for inclusion in any proposed plan (e.g. Sequoia's GMP). It does not decide the outcome of the proposed plan to be implemented but its guidelines must be considered as part of the plan.

Next: The Mineral King Community's Influence on the GMP
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