Policy Update – July 2022

In this month’s policy update, we share news on NEPA, the Lassen National Forest, and Forest Service funding and capacity challenges.

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (7/29/2022)

At the peak of summer, it’s nice to reflect back on the depths of winter and remember nostril-freezing temperatures, cold smoke powder, and silent stillness of frozen forests. I love summer but nothing beats winter!

Protecting NEPA (Again)

I have an important ask to start things off with this policy update. We need your help to protect the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) again. Next week the Senate is likely to vote on a resolution opposing the White House’s new NEPA rules (the ones we celebrated in April). This resolution, filed under the Congressional Review Act, is supported by every Senate Republican. It seeks to undo the Biden Administration’s NEPA rule (which restored some of the most damaging changes to NEPA regulations from the Trump Administration in 2020). I know all this NEPA back and forth is enough to give you whiplash, but we need your help to let Congress know that our community won’t stand for attacks on NEPA.

Lassen National Forest – Winter Travel Plan

Speaking of NEPA, an important NEPA process recently wrapped up. The Lassen National Forest, the first forest to implement the Over-Snow Vehicle Rule, completed its winter travel plan in July. The Lassen was the guinea pig for test-driving the Over-Snow Vehicle Rule and while it wasn’t always a smooth ride, the lessons learned along the way have paved the way for every other forest in the nation to better manage over-snow vehicles. The final plan protects quiet recreation opportunities in many of the important non-motorized recreation areas WWA and our partners advocated for, including the McGowan National Recreational Trail, Elam Creek/Carter Meadow, the West Shore of Lake Almanor, and the West Shore of Eagle Lake and provides considerable opportunity for OSV use on and access to the forest. For more on the Lassen plan and next steps, check out this blog post.

Forest Service Funding & Capacity

Finally, because I can’t write a policy update without talking about Forest Service funding in one way or another, I wanted to share this article from WyoFile about the impacts national forests are seeing from increased camping, and strategies the Forest Service is considering (or already implementing) to address these impacts. The article includes a link to a Winter Wildlands/Mountaineers/Outdoor Alliance report on Forest Service funding and capacity challenges.

Thanks for helping speaking out for NEPA!