The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today announced a final policy for small, low-impact timber sales that will save the agency significant time and resources.
The new policy applies to three new categories of management activities that do not significantly impact the human environment, such as salvaging dead and dying trees and removing insect infested or diseased trees to prevent larger infestations. The Forest Service estimates that it will save up to four months of planning on each project.
"These new categorical exclusions will save the Forest Service time, energy, and money in preparing small, routine timber harvest projects that contribute to healthy forests and healthy economies," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. "Many of these projects are time sensitive and only have small windows of time in the year to conduct the work."
The first category will be used for low-impact silvicultural treatments that allow the harvest of live trees up to 70 acres; it will not allow for even-aged regeneration activities, such as clear-cuts. The second category will be used for salvaging dead and dying trees on areas up to 250 acres. The third category will allow the harvest of live, dead or dying trees necessary to control insect and disease on areas up to 250 acres. None of the proposed categorical exclusions will allow more than one-half mile of temporary road construction.
Categorical exclusions identify actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and therefore, do not require preparation of an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Forest Service recently conducted a review of 154 similar forest management activities and found no significant effect on the environment from these kinds of projects.
Like all categorical exclusions, the new categories will not be subject to administrative appeals.
The Forest Service proposed the categorical exclusions on Jan. 8, 2003 and considered public comment in developing the final policy. A copy of the final policy can be found in today's Federal Register. Additional information on the Forest Service can be found at:www.fs.fed.us