Just before Christmas the Bush administration issued deplorable new management rules for our national forests that put millions of acres at risk. Now the Forest Service wants to exempt forest management plans - the blueprints for how our National Forests are run - from public environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
I just submitted my comment to the Forest Service. Tuesday March 7, is the deadline to provide feedback, so please click the link below to submit your comments now before it's too late! Don't let them get away with this!!!
NEPA is a landmark environmental law that has protected forests for over thirty years. The law requires federal agencies to study and disclose the environmental effects of their actions and to include the public in their decision-making. The Bush administration has worked steadily to chip away at this law over the past four years. This latest attack on NEPA would greatly reduce information available to the public, scientists, and other agencies. It would make it much more difficult for the public to weigh in on or provide comments, concerns, objections, or alternatives to Forest Service proposals.
Well over 100 national forests are due for revised management plans by the end of this decade and therefore at risk. The effects of these changes to policy could stretch across millions of acres of our forestlands. This will end the publics ability to comment on and stop logging sales in national forests.
Here is the letter that I sent:
Chief Dale Bosworth
USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 221090
Salt Lake City , UT 84122
Dear Chief Dale Bosworth,
I am writing to oppose the Forest Service's proposal to categorically exclude forest plans from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Forest Plans make significant decisions regarding where particular activities, such as road construction, logging, off-road vehicle use and mineral development can occur on our national forests. Forest planning is also intended to play a vital role in conserving wildlife, soil and water quality in our national forests.
Permitting forest plan amendments and revisions to be categorically excluded from NEPA would postpone any public examination of the potential impacts of logging, road building, and other environmentally harmful activities on the wildlife, recreation and conservation values in our national forests until after decisions about whether and where to allow such activities had already been made through the planning process. Subsequent analysis of individual timber sales, for example, would fail to assess the cumulative impacts of multiple projects -- past, current and future -- on the forest. To put it another way, we may never get to see the forest for the trees.
Utilizing a categorical exclusion in forest planning would undermine the quality of information the public receives. Specifically, NEPA's requirement that an adequate range of alternatives be developed and carefully considered not only provides the agency a chance to take a broader, outside-the-box view, but it also plays an important role in educating the public about what possible directions long-term planning on our national forests could take. To eliminate this requirement in forest planning would be to reduce agency planning decisions to an our-way-or-the-highway approach.
In addition, your proposal violates the spirit and the letter of the National Forest Management Act, which requires forest plans to comply with NEPA. Moreover, if implemented, it would violate the National Environmental Policy Act itself.
I urge you to abandon this ill-conceived proposal.
Thank you for considering my comments.