Take action to protect our national forests

Take action to protect our national forests

Conservation Northwest / Aug 21, 2019 / Action Alert, National Forests

WILD NW #295: Through August 26th, we need you to fight back on the Trump Administration’s proposed rule that eliminates public review and allows more clearcuts and roads on our national forests.

August 26th update: The comment period is now closed. you can view joint comments from conservation organizations, including Conservation Northwest, at this link

One of the U.S. Forest Service’s most important roles is harmonizing the multiple uses and demands on the 193 million acres of public land it manages. This challenging task is largely made possible by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires public input and scientifically informed, transparent decision-making. The Trump administration wants that to stop so it can fast-track risky logging projects.

National forests belong to all Americans. We deserve a say in how our public lands are managed. Photo: Chase Gunnell

Under Trump’s direction, the Forest Service is preparing to eliminate environmental and public review for the vast majority of its management decisions through increased use of “Categorical Exclusions” and other measures. If the proposed rules were finalized, projects that typically undergo careful scientific review and engage local communities in project design and development would happen behind closed doors.

Submit our suggested comments in opposition to this proposal TODAY by using our simple form!

Among other things, the proposed rule would allow timber sales up to 4,200 acres (roughly 6.6 square miles) and construction of 5 miles of new road and other development without any public oversight. As a result, you may only learn about Forest Service actions in your favorite areas after they happen.

Public comments laid the groundwork for the eventual permanent protection of the Methow Headwaters from industrial mining. Photo: Benjamin Drummond / Lighthawk

Public input through NEPA is crucial for protecting wildlife and recreation values. It was public feedback, bolstered by science, which halted old-growth logging and fostered a transition to ecological restoration on national forests in Washington. Robust public comments from people like YOU laid the groundwork for the eventual permanent protection of the Methow Headwaters. In dry, fire-prone forests where logging can either moderate or exacerbate fire behavior, public input ensures sound ecological and social outcomes in projects such as the Upper Wenatchee Pilot Project.

Shutting out the public will result in habitat loss and fragmentation, stream and water-quality degradation, lost opportunities for pristine wildland recreation, and poor outcomes for local communities.

Instead of fast-tracking risky logging projects, the Forest Service should double-down on investments in collaboration, landscape diagnostics and old-forest protections. Quality investments yield quality results, and can effectively reduce timelines for project implementation without cutting environmental review or public input.

Our national forests are a cherished resource belonging to all Americans. We deserve a say in how our public lands are managed!


Suggested Comments:

Amy Barker
USDA Forest Service
125 South State Street, Suite 1750
Salt Lake City, UT 84138

RE: FS-2019-0010

Dear Ms. Barker,

I am writing to provide comments on the Forest Service’s proposed changes to its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures. I am an enthusiastic supporter of public lands and greatly value my right to participate in decisions about national forest management. I oppose the proposed changes to NEPA regulations.

NEPA is one of America’s foundational environmental laws that directs land management agencies to use science to evaluate the environmental effects of a federal action, and provide citizens who may be affected the ability to review and provide comments on agency projects. NEPA is the venue where project ideas are processed, refined, and improved by public feedback, resulting in better outcomes for local communities and national forest lands. The role and value of quality NEPA review only grows as management challenges become increasingly complex, especially under a changing climate.

The Forest Service proposal would fundamentally undermine NEPA’s core principles of transparency and scientifically informed decision-making, and would eliminate citizen input on most national forest management actions. I am particularly concerned about eliminating the scoping comment period, weakening wildlife and roadless area protections, and adopting new categorical exclusions that fast-track logging and road building, and reward illegal road and trail building. I urge the Forest Service to reject these and other proposed changes.

The best way to ensure effective and efficient NEPA review is through hiring, training and funding quality Forest Service staff, not by creating loopholes to bypass valuable environmental and public review as proposed. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.

Thank you for TAKING ACTION today! Learn more about our work for forest collaboration to restore national forest lands through our FOREST FIELD PROGRAM!
Chiwawa River in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act will shut out public input, resulting in poor outcomes for the environment and local communities. Photo: Kelly Smith