Frequently Asked Questions
Proposed Soil and Water Restoration Categorical Exclusions
June 27, 2012 FAQs
The Forest Service is proposing to supplement its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (36 CFR Part 220) with three new categorical exclusions for activities that restore lands negatively impacted by water control structures, natural and human caused events, and roads and trails. These categorical exclusions will allow the Forest Service to more efficiently analyze and document the potential environmental effects of soil and water restoration projects that are intended to: (1) restore the flow of waters into natural channels and floodplains by removing water control structures, such as dikes, ditches, culverts and pipes; (2) restore lands and habitat to pre-disturbance conditions, to the extent practicable, by removing debris, sediment, and hazardous conditions following natural or human-caused events; and (3) restore lands occupied by roads and trails to natural conditions.
More information about the proposed categorical exclusion for soil and water restoration can be found here:
Many National Forests have ecological landscape-level restoration needs due to fire; insects and diseases; recreation, road, and special use impacts; and climate change. Due to the ecological conditions resulting from these stressors and impacts, the Forest Service has identified a need to efficiently restore landscape health, diversity, and resiliency. These three proposed categorical exclusions (CEs) will allow the Agency to improve the efficiency of the NEPA process and to accelerate the pace of forest and watershed restoration, without sacrificing sound environmental analysis.
These projects promote restoration or conservation activities such as those related to past natural or human-caused damage or alteration of floodplains, wetlands, and watersheds.
The Forest Service provides the following examples of implemented projects that include activities that are within the categories of action under the proposed soil and water restoration categorical exclusions.
- Restoring Wetlands, Stream and Riparian Areas
- Removing Debris and Sediment following Natural or Human-Caused Events
- Road and Trail Restoration
The use of categorical exclusions allows the USFS to protect the environment more efficiently by reducing the resources spent analyzing proposals that do not have potentially significant environmental impacts, and focusing resources on proposals that do. The USFS establishes categorical exclusions based on, in part, its experience implementing similar actions, the experience of other agencies, and information provided by the public.
How to Comment
We are now accepting public comments on the proposed rule. Comments must be received in writing on or before August 13, 2012. Comments can be submitted online, via mail, or via facsimile. Please identify your written comments by including “Categorical Exclusions” on the cover sheet or the first page. Electronic comments are preferred. Please confine comments to the proposed rule on Categorical Exclusions for soil and water restoration activities.
Comments may be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov.
Written comments may be submitted via mail by addressing them to:
Restoration CE Comments
PO Box 4208
Logan, UT 84323
For comments submitted via mail, please do not submit duplicate electronic or facsimile comments.
Comments may be faxed to (801) 397-1605.
Additional information supporting the establishment of these three soil and water categorical exclusions can be found in the Supporting Statements and Appendices.
Proposed Soil and Water Categorical Exclusions Supporting Statements
Appendix A – Previously Implemented Actions – CE #1
Appendix B – Professional Staff and Experts – CE #1
Appendix C – Select Research Papers and Supporting Documents – CE #1
Appendix D – Previously Implemented Actions – CE #2
Appendix E – Professional Staff and Experts – CE #2
Appendix F – Select Research Papers – CE #2
Appendix G – Previously Implemented Actions – CE #3
Appendix H – Professional Staff and Experts – CE #3
Appendix I – Select Research Papers & Supporting Documents – CE #3
Appendix J – Summary of Extraordinary Circumstances by Agency
Appendix K – Comparative Display of Extraordinary Circumstances by Agency