US Forest Service MUST Continue to Consult With Public on ALL Projects!
This may be OUR LAST CHANCE to PROTECT PUBLIC LANDS from Corporate GREED!!
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is proposing to eliminate public participation and virtually abandon their legal and moral responsibility by significantly changing how it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Adhering to these rules requires among other steps, to conduct environmental impact studies (EISs), allow for public review and must take into account not only scientific study of the possible impacts and threats but our approval or denial for proposed activities within public lands. These projects include logging, pipelines, and road building through 193 million acres of the last remaining wild places that belong to WE the PEOPLE!
We’re not being overly dramatic to get your attention! There are people currently serving in government (many of them still in an “acting” position and NOT approved by Congress!) who want to give the oil, gas, coal, forestry industries and other private projects, a free pass to carve up and giveaway the last remaining wild places in this country for their profit at our peril!
The USFS is claiming these rule changes are needed to save tax dollars on environmental impact studies and to increase efficiency within the agency. In truth these are a transparently obvious end run around the NEPA regulations put in place to protect against corporate harm and exploitation.
- This move is NOT to increase efficiency as they claim – it is THEFT of PUBLIC LANDS!
- This is NOT to better protect from wildfires and for pest management – it is a clear attempt to hand over control of our Public Lands and Forests to corporate control!
- None of these changes are in the BEST INTEREST of the public or the health or future for preserving these areas for the next Seven Generations.
- This brazen move does not follow the intent of the NEPA guidance established to preserve precious biodiversity, integrity and overall quality of health for our public grasslands and forests.
We are all facing the devastating affects from climate change. The recent reports are clear we have little time to waste. Our forests and grasslands need to be kept intact and healthy in order to sequester as much CO2 as possible as we move to eliminate extraction and use of fossil fuels. Allowing up to 4200 acres of logging, 7300 acres of timber removed under the guise of fire suppression, five miles of new roads, or allowing up to 640 acres for a new mine without an EIS or any consideration by the public and is absolutely counter to what is needed at this point in time.
We the People WANT our tax dollars to be spent wherever and however they are needed to protect our irreplaceable public lands. Therefore, these new rules are clearly an attempt to usurp long-standing and needed processes to ensure all elements of a project will not cause harm now or in the future to all life forms that are supported within our National Forests and Grasslands.
If these significant rule changes are put in place, watersheds that provides drinking water for millions of people can be forever compromised so that a road can be built to a new mining or fracking site and there’s not one thing we will be able to do to stop it. This will be a reality when a special use permit submitted for extraction or access for almost any project by corporate entities for economic development can be designated as a Categorical Exclusion or use another federal agency’s CE.
This is one more bold step in a long-awaited dream of those who will destroy whatever stands in their way in order to make huge profits and consequences be damned as long as their bank accounts grow.
And YES, our voices DO make a difference!
Over the years these rules have been in place, an average of 75% of projects submitted are either canceled, scaled down, or moved when it is found they will do irreparable harm in some way. And logging projects managed with the future health of the forest as part of the overall plan have benefited communities and provided the market with needed supply. But this move is nothing more than a brazen attempt to silence us and take what isn’t theirs. Communities won’t be notified in most of these cases and if a project is identified there will be little to no legal way to stop it.
But today, we can make a difference – they still have to hear our voices, act accordingly, and yours is needed now more than ever. Submit comments here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FS-2019-0010 Feel free to use any part of or all of this message in your comments. Unique and personal messages are powerful, so let them know what these lands mean to you now and for the future! and PLEASE share this with family, friends, social networks FAR and WIDE!
IF WE, you and I, family and friends, don’t speak now the following will happen in the very near future:
- Timber sales of up to 4,200 acres (about 6.6 square miles)
- Broadly defined “ecosystem restoration and/or resilience activities/fire prevention” on up to 7,300 acres which will benefit logging and biomass burning
- Construction of up to 5 miles of roads or reconstruction of up to 10 miles of Forest Service System roads
- Uncontested permits for pipelines, mines, and fracking pad/operations
- Utility rights-of-way
- Converting illegal off-road vehicle routes to official Forest Service System roads
- Eliminate the requirement to conduct public scoping for 98% of all proposed actions
- The proposed rule would eliminate the presence and protection of sensitive species as an extraordinary circumstance
- Discretion to authorize larger, complex projects without preparing any NEPA analysis by breaking apart the various project elements and picking and choosing how OR IF they are reviewed
- Claim that an existing environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS) adequately analyzed a new/different proposed action and so no EA or EIS is necessary
- Remove Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs) and potential wilderness areas from the classes of actions that normally require preparation of an EIS
- Embraces “condition-based management”, which allows the Forest Service to authorize land management activities –usually including timber harvest without first gathering information about the resources that would be affected on the ground
- Additional public engagement for CEs and EAs is at the discretion of the local responsible official, except where specified by applicable statutes and regulations (such as the project-level objections process)
- Convert unauthorized or non-system roads and trails to the national forest system to allow those roads and trails to be managed on forest service transportation system
- Allow the Forest Service to use another agencies’ Categorical Exclusions
More information on the above list of possible actions by USFS can be found here: http://forestpolicypub.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-06-18-FS-Draft-NEPA-Rule-Short-Summary.pdf
Without accountability there will be MORE logging in the wrong places, MORE roads built in remote areas, MORE pipelines fragmenting habitats and destroying precious, endangered and at risk wildlife, trees and plants.
Our national forests are the number one source for clean drinking water for 180 million Americans. They channel and filter sediments and pollutants from streams and rainwater as they recharge vital aquifers. And if there are no controls on where and on large swaths of land that logging or pipelines or other extraction decimates, millions of animals, food and medicinal plants, and endangered tree species may very well be gone forever.
The biodiversity of our public lands are as complex as they are vast.
Our national forests, summits, white water rivers and trail systems provide over 200,000 jobs and generate 13 billion dollars of revenue and this figure grows each year. Rural communities count on the integrity and beauty of these lands to provide not only jobs and economic stability, but places to enjoy nature’s wonders, relax and spend time with family and friends – benefits that can’t be measured in dollars or profits.
If the Forest Service abandons the process that protects clean water and air, healthy flora and fauna, livelihoods and recreation, it will forever compromise our ability to successfully share and care for our public lands.
Comments are due tomorrow, Monday, August 26, 2019 – Provide YOUR comments TODAY: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FS-2019-0010
PLEASE share this with family, friends, social networks FAR and WIDE! Don’t wait. Use any part of or all of this message in your comments.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and acting on this request.
May you and your loved ones be well,
IEN Save Our Roots Campaign