Foothills Landscape Project - Environmental Assessment

Foothills Working Group header

 

🌳 📰 UPDATE: The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is inviting stakeholders and partners to help establish a collaborative working group to guide the implementation of the Foothills Landscape project. This could include identifying priority areas for projects and best tools and approaches for achieving desired outcomes and monitoring progress. The member-driven working group may also develop new ways to adapt, support, streamline and scope future efforts.

We will be hosting a series of facilitated meetings and conversations to discuss: What is the value of a Working Group? What are the benefits and barriers to participating? What’s possible? Our goal is to find volunteers to participate in a series of facilitated virtual workshops over the spring/summer to co-develop the purpose and structure of the Foothills Working Group.

Please review the invitation to upcoming sessions to help establish a collaborative working group to guide the implementation of the Foothills Landscape Project. Please register for any of the following exploratory meetings below.

WEDNESDAY, April 28, 2021: What is Possible with a Foothills Working Group? 

  Evening Session: 6:30-8:30 pm - REGISTER

WEDNESDAY, April 14, 2021: What is the Value of a Foothills Working Group? 

View Forest Supervisor Edward Hunter's opening remarks. Review a harvest of the meeting discussions.

Learn more details

Foothills Working Group Invitation

 


Project Summary | Community Conversations | Project Status

Project Details | Frequently Asked Questions | Community Collaboration

 

Foothills Landscape Project at a glance

 

 

"The right work in the right places for the right reasons"

The Foothills Landscape project will
create, restore and maintain forests and waters
that are resilient, sustainable and productive for wildlife and people. 

 

  

 

Foothills Vicinity Map

 

Stay Connected:

Sign up to receive information about the Foothills Landscape collaboration by email. You can also keep in touch with happenings on our Facebook and Twitter pages (@ChattOconeeNF).

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If you have specific questions about the Foothills Landscape project, contact team leader Stephanie Israel at sm.fs.foothills@usda.gov or (770)297-3095.

 

 

Project Summary

 

Foothills Landscape MapProject Location: The Foothills Landscape – 157,625 acres – stretches across the Chattahoochee National Forest and marks the area where the mountains are visibly reduced to foothills. Shortleaf pine and pitch pine forests are the dominant forest types, with hardwoods accounting for about a quarter of the landscape. The area offers a plethora of recreation opportunities, with nearly 200 miles of hiking, biking, horse and OHV trails and dozens of recreation sites. It includes a portion of the Cohutta WMA and Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Rabun and White Counties.

Proposed Action:  On December 2, 2019Foothills Project Habitat, the U.S. Forest Service released a proposal to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Foothills Landscape. You can read the proposal on the project NEPA webpage. The Project Vision is to create, restore and maintain ecosystems that are more resilient to natural disturbances. Specifically, the Forest Service is seeking to enhance and provide quality habitat for rare and declining species, as well as desired game and non-game species; to reduce hazardous fuel loading across the landscape to diminish damaging wildfires; to improve soil and water quality; to provide sustainable recreation and access opportunities; and to awaken and strengthen a connection to these lands for all people. Find more background information on the Foothills Landscape Project.

Purpose and Need: The Foothills Landscape Project would maintain and improve watershed and ecological conditions by addressing the need to improve biologic integrity, increase the ecosystem’s resilience to disturbance, restore connectivity, and support high water quality and soil productivity.

Project Vision: To create, restore and maintain ecosystems that are more resilient to natural disturbances. Specifically, the Forest Service is seeking to enhance and provide quality habitat for rare and declining species, as well as desired game and non-game species; to reduce hazardous fuel loading across the landscape to diminish damaging wildfires; to improve soil and water quality; to provide sustainable recreation and access opportunities; and to awaken and strengthen a connection to these lands for all people.

 

Project Status

Last action: The official 30-day public comment period (Dec. 11-Jan. 10) has closed, but you may read public comments in the reading room for the project.

CURRENT STATUS: We received a large number of comments on this project, and we are listening. We're making changes to the structure of the project in response to many of the concerns expressed, and are in the process of revising the Environmental Assessment (EA). 

You can expect to see revisions that include:

  • Greater specificity of locations and timing of proposed actions prior to decisions leading to implementation
  • Opportunities for formal public comment throughout the life of the project
  • Collaborative working group to guide implementation

NEPA timeline

 

Next steps: We will release the revised EA with a new 30-day public comment period this summer. Those comments will again be carefully considered before moving forward with a draft Decision Notice.

On the horizon: Once a draft Decision Notice is released, a 45-day objection period will begin.

Additional information: The original Environmental Assessment and supporting analysis documents are available to review on the project webpageSubscribe to receive information about the Foothills Landscape project by email. 

Background: The USDA Forest Service conducts environmental analysis using the best available science and, based on the analysis and other relevant information, makes decisions to increase the diversity, health, resilience, and productivity of our national forests and grasslands. There are three levels of analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. They include categorical exclusion, environmental assessment, and environmental impact statement.

An Environmental Assessment is a concise public document that serves to briefly provide sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether to prepare an environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant impact. It identifies the need for the proposal, the proposed action and alternatives, environmental impacts, and agencies and persons consulted on the project.

The Foothills Landscape project was analyzed under agency guidelines for an Environmental Assessment. Read the agency directive that guides this process: Chapter 40, Environmental Assessments and Related Documents.

Learn more about Forest Service NEPA Procedures and Guidance, find a graphic illustrating the NEPA process and a Citizen’s Guide to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) available from the Council on Environmental Quality.

 

 

Project Details

Learn more about the proposed actions analyzed in the original Foothills Landscape Project EA clicking an image to view full size or view a print version (pdf). 

 

Managing for biodiversity

 
Foothills Landscape Project at a glance - Vegetation
Click an image to view full size or view a print version (pdf). 

 

Managing for sustainable enjoyment of the land


 Foothills Landscape Project at a glance - Recreation 

 

Conserving and restoring rare plant and animal communities

 
Foothills Landscape Project at a glance - Rare Habitats 

 

Community Conversations

Community Conversations were hosted by the U.S. Forest Service after the release of the Environmental Assessment, where information was shared with the public and staff were available to answer individual questions from those attending.

Tuesday December 3, 2019

Wednesday December 4, 2019

Thursday December 5, 2019

Tuesday December 10, 2019

  • VIRTUAL Community Conversation

 

 

 

Community Collaboration

Beginning in 2016, partners and community members from across North Georgia have been working together with the Forest Service to realize a shared vision to address the complex conservation challenges across this landscape.  The purpose of the engagement was to discuss and debate the restoration needs on the landscape and the potential tools to improve the ecosystem’s resilience to disturbance and sustainability. There were two rounds of Community Conversations, four integrated workshops, five small group meetings and eight field trips convened during this time. In 2018, stakeholders met to collaboratively develop alternatives and design a multi-party monitoring plan. Find more background information on the collaboration effort behind the Foothills Landscape Project.

 

 

Since 2016, the U.S. Forest Service has convened
two rounds of Community Conversations, four integrated workshops,
five small group meetings and eight field trips.

 

"The right work in the right places for the right reasons"

The Foothills Landscape project will create, restore and maintain forests and waters
that are resilient, sustainable and productive for wildlife and people. 

This landscape provides a variety of habitats and watersheds popular for public recreation. 

Read the complete Environmental Assessment for the Foothills Landscape Project.

Read public comments in the reading room for the project at: 
https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//ReadingRoom?Project=52509

 

NEPA Resources

FS NEPA Procedures and Guidance

NEPA Links

CEQ's NEPAnet

CEQ's Guide to NEPA

Foothills EA Venn Graphic

 

 

Last updated: April 22, 2021





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