by Hunter Frakes
Last week the U.S. Forest Service revealed efforts to remove the public from the decision making process. Through proposed rule changes to their National Environmental Policy Act compliance standards, in many cases they would be allowed to avoid thorough environmental review, or any review at all, before mining and logging our National Forests.
A public comment period for this amendment to our environmental laws is open until the new, extended deadline of August 26th, 2019. Cutting corners in protecting our forests is unacceptable, and it is imperative that we tell that to the Forest Service!
WHAT THE RULE CHANGE SAYS:
Under this new rule, up to 4,200 acres of forest, or 6.6 sq. miles, can be completely cleared by logging without any public involvement. Also, up to 1 sq. mile of land can be mined without notifying the public, and 5 miles of roads built. This would be disastrous for the recreational forest areas we own, love, and share.
HOW TO HELP:
The first comment period for this proposed change only received ~1000 comments from the entire nation on a law that affects millions of acres, and the current period only has 16 comments as of June 21st. Let the Forest Service know what you think of their efforts to avoid environmental reviews and public input before the August 26th deadline below:
1. Public participation portal (preferred): https://www.regulations.gov/.
2. Mail: NEPA Services Group, c/o Amy Barker; USDA Forest Service, 125 South State Street, Suite 1705, Salt Lake City, UT 84138.
3. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about how to make an effective public comment, you can contact us here at email@example.com. You can also refer to this public comment guide by the Brookings Institution.