Airstrip  by Amy Wheeler Harwood

Airstrip by Amy Wheeler Harwood


ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT exists to amplify threats to public lands through creative projects and by connecting artists and arts audiences to watchdog environmental groups - and by exploring ways to interject our art practices into environmental policy decisions. We have brought dancers, visual artists, writers, sound artists, and musicians to areas of Mt. Hood National Forest that are proposed to be logged or developed. Artist work created in response has been presented publicly with the goal of increased public awareness for protection of wildlands and increased engagement with environmental activism within the Portland arts community. The name of the project is derived from the required documentation that the government must collect to show potential impacts on the environment before development occurs. This process has been increasingly dismantled by industry and removed from public involvement. EIS seeks to reimagine and redefine the form, scope and potential impact of an environmental impact statement through artist research and response. Through this process EIS has created spaces for expression and conversation around ecological, social and political issues central to public land management. The project also questions the role of the artist in the debate of managing public lands.

Environmental Impact Statement is led by Lisa Schonberg, Ryan Seibold and Leif J Lee. Amy Harwood co-directed the collective from 2015-16. 



Accepting proposals through March 2, 2018

Poly Met Mining, Inc. (PolyMet) is proposing to develop a mine and associated processing facilities for the extraction of copper, nickel, and platinum group elements (PGE) in northeastern Minnesota. If permitted, the mine would be the first of its kind in the state.

The collective Environmental Impact Statement invites artists of all disciplines to submit project proposals that will not be able to be realized if sulfide ore mining commences on lands within the Superior National Forest on the Mesabi Iron Range. All proposals will be submitted as public comments and become part of the public record for the proposed NorthMet Mining Project draft DNR Permit to Mine. They will be submitted in response to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared under the leadership of the DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The Final EIS was deemed adequate by the DNR in March 2016 marking the end of the state’s environmental review process. EIS decisions for the USACE and USFS are still pending.

Artists in all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Installations and performative works may reference the dimensions pictured below. Project proposals need not be limited by funding or even possibility.

The NorthMet Project Proposed Action would have the potential to affect groundwater and surface water hydrology and quality in both the Partridge River and Embarrass River watersheds. These two rivers are both tributaries to the St. Louis River and within the Lake Superior Basin. Surface runoff or surficial groundwater seepage leaving the Mine Site would flow into Yelp Creek or the Partridge River, and eventually into the St. Louis River. The sulfate released from the NorthMet waste rock and tailings is especially important because there are waters supporting the production of wild rice downstream from both the Mine Site and Tailings Basin. The proposed action would negatively affect native communities of both the Dakota and Anishinaabe/Ojibwe tribal groups. The northeastern region and much of Mni Sota Makoce, Land of the Dakota, are these tribe's lands, and harvesting wild rice is a vital aspect of community sustenance, spirituality, and tradition.  


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is required to provide a public notice and objection period before their final decision to issue the Permit to Mine. The public has the opportunity to agree that the harm is worth the benefit. We are submitting these projects as standing ideas that would not be possible should the sulfide ore mining take place in this region, thus illustrating additional impacts of mining this land. These creative projects will be included with the many other environmental concerns that the people will submit during the public comment period.

Ideas cannot be destroyed, but our waters and natural landscapes can be.

Thank you for participating,


Lisa Schonberg & Ryan Seibold


(The Mine Site, Plant Site and Transportation Corridor together is roughly 7000 acres, or 7 Central Parks - map can also be found in the DNR EIS listed below.)

Comment on the following NorthMet draft permits (DNR Permit to Mine, MPCA Air Quality, Water Quality, and 401 Certification (wetlands) Permits:

Environmental Impact Statement prepared for NorthMet project proposal:

1854 Ceded Territory - 1854 Treaty Authority Wild Rice Survey (1996-2010):¾/7134305/surv10.jpg

Ecological context and watershed map:

EIS artist collective links:

EIS website/Visual Quality Objectives:

Portland Mercury article:

Surplus Space exhibit:

Sediment Gallery exhibit:

Instagram: @environmental_impact_statement



EIS Submitted artist proposals as comments on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Dakota Access Pipeline on February 20, 2017. 

to gib.a.owen.civ
February 20, 2017

Mr. Gib Owen, Water Resources Policy and Legislation, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Washington, DC 20310-0108


“Understanding is like water flowing in a stream. Wisdom and knowledge are solid and can block our understanding” -Thich Nhat Hanh

We are the Portland and Minnesota based artist collective, Environmental Impact Statement. We have curated visual arts exhibitions, hosted performances, and produced writing and composition in response to the many challenges and threats to the future of healthy ecosystems in our community and beyond. We have brought together seven artists to respond to threats to water and treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

We believe that artists offer a unique perspective on the way we view the natural world. As cultural change agents, artists are a powerful resource for interpreting the values that people hold for the future of our planet. We initiated this project to respond to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s powerful effort to redress the lack of any genuine government-to-government consultation over the placement of the Dakota Access Pipeline .55 miles north of the reservation underneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe; the pipeline was rerouted away from Bismarck for many of the same reasons that now threaten two tribal reservations and millions of people downstream from where the pipeline is planned, not least the tribal rights to hunt, fish, and gather, but also the right to freedom of religion. There is a long history of the government taking of lands held sacred to the people of the Sioux Nation along the shorelines of the Missouri, the water being inseparable from their spirituality. We issued a Call to Artists to submit proposals that could not happen if the pipeline was built. In doing so, we hope to shine a spotlight on a more rigorous cultural and scientific understanding supportive of stopping the pipeline, which would lead to a ‘no action alternative’ option. We believe that the permit process up until the order for an EIS failed to consider the public interest as a primary concern. Our project proposals illustrate further impacts of the proposed pipeline construction, namely the inspiration and life that the affected area gives to artists and most importantly, to the Sioux Tribe to which this land is sacred and home.

“The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.”    -Sherman Alexie

“Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent.”              -Vine Deloria Jr.

“I don’t understand why we are expendable in America. I keep telling people, we do our best. We have always been here. This is our land. Why should we fight to live on our own land? Why should we have to do that over and over again? We start our lives. We do our best to live. Why? I would never hurt anybody. I have always done my best to do good things in my community. Why can’t they just let us live? We love this land. And half of the time I feel bad, because they make us feel bad for loving this land.

But most important, we love the water. Every year, our people sacrifice. We go four days without drinking water, so that it reminds us how important this water is. And I ask everybody: Do you go four days without water? What happens to your body on that third day? Your body starts shutting down. So, we remind ourselves every day how important. We say mni wiconi, water of life. Every time we drink water, we say mni wiconi, water of life. We cannot live without water. So I don’t understand why America doesn’t understand how important water is. So we have no choice. We have to stand. No matter what happens, we have to stand to save the water.”                                                                                         -Ladonna Brave Bull Allard


Ryan Seibold & Lisa Schonberg
Environmental Impact Statement


Artist Proposals

Bug Davidson (Austin, Texas)
Where is the project proposed?
Sioux tribal lands
Project Title: Not Our Space
Project Description: Video Projection on the landscape of woman dancing - interacting with the landscape.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
This land would change considerably, spiritual lands of people should not be land for the pipeline, the tribe should be respected.

Kate Hoffman (Los Angeles, California)
Where is the project proposed?
Sioux Territory Under 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie
Project Title: How the US Became a Model of Righting a Wrong
Project Description: “How the US Became a Model of Righting a Wrong” is a historical piece that will be created five years from now. It will use the events of what initially appeared to look as if the corporations building the pipeline were ignoring treaties and peaceful protesting by using brut force and financial power to not listen to the needs of the people and the land. But though the force of unity and respect for all bodies and all land the DAPL pipeline project was terminated. Canada and the US decided to re-invest in environmentally safe means of producing energy and only use land that was available to them through legal channels. The project will use the series of events and experience as an opportunity to thank those instrumental in the termination of the pipeline. These “thank you” gifts will be created in community centers across the globe. It will be a project and a teaching tool for the youth that will examine how through the power of the people and the interests of integrity of moral good and self-respect, the wealthy will right their wrongs and come through as the “good guys”. Every year the youth and the people involved in this curriculum will create thank you drawings about the world they will get to live in and have children in, one where they will have clean water to drink, and raise their own children knowing that ALL people will be respected regardless of race/class and nation.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
This project will only be able to occur if the pipeline is not built and those responsible will correct their wrong doings as soon as possible. Otherwise the project will absolutely not be able to occur nor will the children be given a model of citizenship, humanistic perspectives, good winning over evil, or perhaps be able to raise children in a country where there is fresh water to drink.

Fuchsia Lin (Portland, Oregon)
Where is the project proposed?
Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
Project Title: The Beings of Water
Project Description: To create an installation piece of sculptural textiles, costumes and masks that will represent the biodiversity of the region surrounding the Cannonball River that runs through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This piece will include seven different sculptural costumes and masks displayed on wire armatures that serve as a visual poem of the native peoples’(the Hunkpapa Lakota, Sihasapa Lakota and Yanktonai Dakota) relationship with the Cannonball River and their natural environment. In order to commence this project, I will need to spend one to two weeks observing the Cannonball River environment during each of the four seasons. I will observe the height of the river, as well as the kind of flora and fauna present during the different times of the year. The following endangered species residing within the ecosystem of the Cannonball River: the ancient species of pallid sturgeon, and shorebirds the least tern and piping plover, will be a focus of my observations. The native blue flax flower, widely prevalent in this region and an important food source for different species of butterflies and native bees contribute to diversity, will be of noteworthiness to this project. The collected research will then be used to create textile designs that represent the biodiversity of this region and call attention to the impact the health of the Cannonball River has on the environment and surrounding native populations. These textiles will then be created into sculptural costumes and masks, each one representing a different species: fish, bird, flower, animal, insect or person, and each with their own unique gesture. The sculptures will be intentionally arranged in a large circle facing outward, symbolizing the holistic meaning of the “Water is Life” consciousness to the Lakota culture. There will be a path of blue light projected on the ground representing a river running through the sculpture formation. This installation will be exhibited in different venues across the country. The purpose is to share and connect with the deep inspiration of the native peoples’ values and respect for the “Being of Water”. May their ancient culture inspire us to shift our relationship to our environment and enrich our own cultural roots to our land.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
The construction of the pipeline would inevitably alter the balance of the ecosystem surrounding the Cannonball River and the fragility of the endangered species would not enable them to survive. A documentation of an accurate representation of the region nurturing the last attempt of these species to rebound would no longer be possible because of the disruption. The high risk of the pipeline leaking would cause major damage to the Cannonball River’s ecosystem and the species that contribute to the diversity of that region would be irreparably lost, to say the least of the consequences.

Lisa Schonberg (Portland, Oregon)
Where is the project proposed?
Sioux Tribal lands
Project Title: Soundscape Storytelling
Project Description: I will make audio field recordings of soundscapes along the Missouri River nearby the proposed pipeline construction, in riparian and freshwater aquatic habitats. I will visit the site seasonally, four times in one year. During each visit I will collect diurnal and nocturnal recordings. After each collection I will interview members of three generations of the Sioux Tribe. I will play the recordings for them and ask them what stories and what meanings each recording brings to mind for them. The recordings and interviews will be edited into an album featuring the interviews interspersed with respective field recordings. This album will be released digitally and available for donation, all donations benefitting the Sioux Tribes’ efforts to protect their lands.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
If construction of the pipeline proceeds, I will not be able to capture recordings of soundscapes that are unaffected by change brought on by construction. Sounds that have meaning will be obscured.

Ryan Seibold (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Where is the project proposed?
Unceded Sioux Territory Under 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie
Project Title: Black Square 2017 (Above The River)
Project Description: The drill site of a cancelled oil pipeline project is covered black, signifying a turning point for our planet’s future. The crude oil pipeline was supposed to tunnel underneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe here. A black square canopy composed of several hundred solar panels is collectively held skyward by participants for one day; like a floating Malevich canvas over a rugged landscape, Black Square 2017 (Above The River)is a “zero-point” for environmental art’s main challenge, confronting Climate Change. Divestment from oil and turning to solar and wind energy, along with strong Tribal opposition, killed the Black Snake and all plans to bore into the earth at this site, a last gasp only intensified by a newly installed puppet for the corporate-political establishment in the U.S. with financial ties to DAPL and connections to petrochemical industry insiders as far off as Russia. Drone aerial images of this work would be sold to fund Indigenous-led renewable energy projects. The solar panels would be gifted to Water Protectors to help build a sustainable community. The drill site becomes a distribution plaza for exchange of materials needed to build sustainable communities: solar and wind power, plants for ecosystem restoration and food/medicine gardens, energy efficient housing materials, etc. This proposal believes we need to become collective stewards for the water, land, cultures, and wildlife of Unci Maka (Lakota), Mother Earth. Our right to existence is one with responsibilities to everything else in creation.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
Black Square 2017 (Above The River) would require the pipeline project receive a “no action alternative” decision from the EIS. Crude oil would flow through the site threatening water for everyone downstream because all pipelines eventually leak.

Photo: Myron Dewey

Aidan Shaughnessy (McGlaughlin, South Dakota, Standing Rock Res)
Where is the project proposed?
Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Project Title: Bee Haven
Project Description: Prairie, savannah, wetland and shoreline restorations for indigenous and exotic bees, butterflies, plants and peoples, refugees.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
Yes, we are south of the DAPL near on the Missouri River where inevitable frac crude threatens our fresh water sources, ecosystems and cultures.

Maurice Spencer (Portland, Oregon)
Where is the project proposed? 
North Dakota
Project Title: Try drinking oily water, the musical
Project Description: A musical odyssey taking into account humanity’s history with water. Spoiler alert: we need to drink water more than we need to burn oil.
How would your project be impacted by the pipeline?
It would not be workable. The project requires drinking water without the risk of a pipeline rupture that would render it undrinkable.




Since we began work on EIS in February 2015, the three coordinators have met several times a month to allow for thoughtful evolution as the original idea moved through feedback from audience and participants. An early invitation to talk about the project as part of Central’s Peripheral to What? symposium at HQHQ gallery was a helpful step in articulating our idea. We initially invited about a dozen artists of different disciplines to commit to joining us for one hike to Mt. Hood forests over the summer. We scheduled several dates and also connected artists to Bark, the watchdog group for Mt. Hood National Forest. Bark offers a free monthly hike to the forest while sharing information about current threats to the forests and rivers.

Over the months, a core group of the original invitations formed. While we continued to engage with all of the artists, we began to develop opportunities to highlight participating artists’ work. In July, we brought together a show at Surplus Space. The show featured visual work from Jodi Darby, Gary Wiseman, Leif J Lee, and Amy Harwood. The opening event included performances by Heather Treadway, Alison Clarys, Danielle Ross, Sam Pirnak, and Lisa Schonberg. The opening event was also a “Welcome Home” party for OR-25, the wolf that crossed through Mt. Hood forests this past spring. It was the first time a wolf has been in the area for nearly 50 years.

The second opportunity to highlight participating artists was Sound Management. In an effort to connect the project to other conservation efforts, we collaborated with the Mazamas, a longtime mountaineering club with a large event space in SE Portland. The Mazamas' Hall was a unique venue for an art event was an exciting way to bring new audiences into the project. The show highlighted music, puppeteering, participatory work, and the presentation of a new trail established on Mt. Hood by artist Ryan Pierce.

In an interest to highlight the connection of art and activism, we developed the project Visual Quality Objectives. One of the proposed logging projects that we have visited on the north slope of Mt. Hood, the Polallie Cooper Timber Sale, was open to public comment from January-February 2016. In the Forest Service’s environmental analysis, an evaluation of the impacts to the “visual quality” of the forest is always incorporated into the required analysis. We posted a Call to Artists on our website, asking people to imagine on-site and inspired art projects that would be not be possible if the visual quality of the forest was impacted by the proposed logging. You can read the proposals in the catalog published for an exhibit in Richmond, VA at Sediment Gallery that featured this work. We awarded an honorarium to participant Shawn Creeden, in hopes that they can carry their idea forward. 

We are currently working on assembling a documentation of our cumulative work for Visual Quality Objectives in a print publication. This piece will also include original writing from several participating artists.