The movie “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” premiered on screens throughout the country in 1977. Around that same time, the Corps updated the Rogue River Basin project master plans to reflect new hopes for Lost Creek Lake, Elk Creek, and Applegate Dam.
Now, as the Star Wars franchise is revived, these 40-plus year-old master plans are feeling the force awaken as the Corps updates them to provide direction and planning strategies for the next 20 years. And, like any major motion picture, over a year’s worth of work goes into producing these plans.
Corps personnel visited each site in fall 2017 to see what's changed, what's stayed the same, and the impacts of these changes on each area. Climate change variables, such as predicted changes to precipitation, wildfires and severe storm events, provide an example of impacts taken into account to be incorporated into the updated plan.
The Corps gathered that information, drafted a report and presented it to the public for comments. In January and July of this year, the Corps hosted two public meetings in Shady Cove and conducted a 30-day public review comment period for the initial scoping period and later for the 60 percent draft plan. Over the course of the planning process, the Corps will have conducted three separate open comment periods for public review and input.
"While the Corps tries to look at all aspects, the comments we receive from the public are invaluable. The public has been instrumental in helping us identify new uses, objectives, priorities and goals that helped guide our thinking and decision making," said Gail Saldaña, Portland District project manager and landscape architect.
The Corps updated the draft plan incorporating many of these comments, and will release the updated 90-percent completed master plan for one final public comment period this winter.
An integrated environmental assessment is one aspect of the update. Suzy Hill, Portland District environmental resource specialist, is the lead on the environmental assessment aspect of the plan.
“The integrated environmental assessment compares the environmental impacts of current land management practices to new management alternatives. Doing this comparison between past practices and newly proposed practices ensures that the Corps minimizes adverse impacts and comprehensively analyzes all resources at the Rogue River projects,” explained Hill.
In some cases, the Corps recommends that land management practices stay the same. For example, the McGregor park and visitor center will remain unchanged as a high-density recreation area.
Mirroring “Rogue One”, when the resistance worked to steal plans to the Death Star, the Corps went Rogue to gather input for an updated plan to guide goals for recreation, environmental stewardship and cultural resources for the next 20 years.
The Corps asks the public to stay engaged throughout the rest of the planning process by submitting comments in the upcoming and final open comment period this fall for the 90-percent draft plan. The Corps expects to finalize and release the master plan in early 2019.
View the 60-percent draft master plan and integrated environmental assessment online, and learn more about the master planning process at https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects-and-Plans/Master-Plans/.