EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE something pretty rare comes along and you can’t help but take notice. For instance, early this morning we witnessed a super blue blood moon eclipse. That happens even less than once in a blue moon! Along the same lines, of things that happen “once in a blue moon” (or less), the Forest Service is taking a new look at what they do to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, and they’re accepting preliminary comments through the end of this week.
The NEPA process is the environmental review the Forest Service does whenever they make a major decision. It helps ensure that public lands and waters remain healthy, resilient, and attractive outdoor recreation destinations and it’s the primary avenue that we, the public, have to participate in decisions about the way Forest Service lands and waters are managed. The vast majority of comments submitted thus far in the process are from the extractive industry – it’s time for the outdoor recreation community to speak up.
Because of the way the Forest Service is collecting comments we’re unable to provide a one-click comment template for you to use. You’ll have to write your own letter. But feel free to use the following talking points:
- I strongly support the principles of NEPA and believe that environmental review and public comment are a vital components of the land management decision-making process, since it helps to ensure that public lands and waters remain healthy and resilient.
- I urge the USFS to approach any changes to the NEPA regulations carefully so that the agency has the tools needed to ensure that the lands they manage remain attractive recreation destinations for a wide range of users.
- I believe NEPA and environmental review are important to preserve opportunities for the recreating public to participate in decisions about the way the agency’s lands and waters are managed.
- The Forest Service should continue to invest in more up-front public process, including collaboration, to help improve and expedite project planning and implementation.
- One way the Forest Service could streamline its approach to NEPA is to better utilize programmatic, landscape-scale analysis and decision-making, with tiered project-level analysis and appropriate use of categorical exclusions.
- The Forest Service should not consider expanding upon existing categorical exclusions to enable larger-scale salvage logging.