WASHINGTON, D.C. – The USDA Forest Service implemented a new national training program to foster a common understanding of what is required to comply with governing laws, as well as to provide tools to minimize the time it takes to conduct environmental analysis. Environmental analysis, which is complex and challenging, happens under the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The new training program is part of the Environmental Analysis and Decision Making effort, which aims to improve the health, diversity, resilience and productivity of our national forests and grasslands by improving the way we analyze projects and make decisions to accomplish more work on-the-ground.
In the Forest Service, environmental analysis, which is complex and challenging, happens under the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency is investing in new training courses to increase the capacity of its subject-matter experts as they perform work under NEPA.
The training program includes three new training modules:
- Legal Foundation for Efficient Analysis and Decision Making provides an overview and demonstrates the boundaries of the laws, regulations and policies related to Forest Service project-level environmental analysis. The online course is a prerequisite for the other two courses.
- Line Officer NEPA Leadership examines the role that line officers play in effectively and efficiently leading the NEPA process. Participants learn about the roles and responsibilities of the responsible official, including how leadership sets the tone, expectations, vision and motivation for project planning and decision-making processes.
- Advanced Effects Analysis those taking this class will learn how to complete rational, methodical, and clear analysis for informed decision making. Students will learn to consistently and concisely determine and disclose science-based methods and assumptions, measurement indicators of sustainability, and the scale of analysis.
Two national cadres are teaching these modules across the Forest Service. The first cadre completed training in February. The new cadre completed training in June. Classes will be institutionalized within the agency’s available training program and continue to be offered to those working under the requirements of NEPA
Leadership at all levels of the Forest Service, from Ranger Districts to the Washington Office, are involved in this training effort and all are fully committed to ensuring its success. By providing consistent, agency-wide NEPA training, the EADM change effort will get more work done on the ground while continuing to deliver safe, high-quality outcomes with results that honor our stewardship responsibilities.