Proposed change would cut public input in Green Mtn National Forest
Thu, 08/15/2019 – 12:55pm By Christopher Ross.
If a proposed change in federal land use rules goes through, … [national forests] could see a lot more commercial logging, road building and utility corridors — all without environmental review or public input.
“Basically, the rules would take the ‘public’ out of public land management,” said Jamey Fidel, Forest and Wildlife Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC).
At issue is a proposal by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to revise the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is the foundation of environmental policy making in the United States. It requires agencies like the USFS to analyze the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.
The USFS proposal would drastically alter those requirements by greatly expanding the number and type of projects that would count as “categorical exclusions,” which can be approved without environmental assessments or impact statements.
Location of surviving national forests. Before the European plague arrived, the whole North American continent was covered in primeval forests teeming with life.
Projects the USFS would reclassify as “categorical exclusions” include:
• Commercial logging, including clear cutting, on areas up to 4,200 acres at a time.
• Building new roads through the forest up to five miles at a time.
• Reconstructing old roads through the forest up to 10 miles a time.
• Bulldozing up to four miles of pipeline and utility rights-of-way through the forest.
• Closing roads and trails used for recreational purposes.
• Adding illegally built roads and trails to the official USFS road and trail system.
New rules would also allow the USFS to bypass public input on nearly every project decision.
According to estimates from a number of forestry and environmental organizations, the proposal would eliminate public and environmental review from more than 90 percent of all USFS projects. …
The deadline for commenting is Aug. 26. [After that time, no public comments will be accepted.]
“Please make your comments specific and unique to your concerns and relate your comments to a particular national forest …
According to the Forest Service website, comments may be submitted:
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