Agency reviewing more than 100,000 comments
The USDA Forest Service is now reviewing more than 100,000 comments received on its proposal to revise its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures. The proposal aims to help land managers improve conditions on national forests and grasslands by modernizing how environmental analysis is performed and how land management decisions are made.
The Forest Service processes thousands of forest management actions and decisions every year. The changes in the proposed rule are designed to increase the pace of treatments that confront the many challenges facing national forests and grasslands, such as wildfire, insects and disease.
The comments received on the proposed rule will be used to inform the final rule, which is expected to be published by the summer of 2020.
“The sheer number of comments we have received demonstrates broad interest in the proposed rule and the value the American people place on how we manage their national forests and grasslands,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.
The proposed rule would help the Forest Service make timelier decisions based on high-quality analysis and to get critical work done while meeting agency environmental stewardship responsibilities. The proposed rule incorporates lessons learned over the past 10 years and applies that knowledge to modernizing how the Forest Service confronts current land management challenges.
The Forest Service is revising the proposed rule based on its review and analysis of the comments, which will be followed by a broader internal and interagency review of the revised rule in early 2020.
“A great deal of effort went into developing the proposed rule and now that we have had a chance to hear from our partners and communities, we will use their input to make sure we get the final rule right,” said Chief Christiansen. “We are already seeing things we can improve on to capitalize on good ideas we have received.”
The Forest Service will release updates as the rule development process continues. Updates will be shared to the Forest Service Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USForestService or at @forestservice on Twitter.