WASHINGTON, MARCH 26, 2013 AT 2:00 PM EDT - The U.S. Forest Service today announced the final rule governing the objection process for projects and activities implementing land-management plans. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on March 27.
“This rule gives the public more effective involvement, supports our collaborative processes and will result in better decision-making,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
The predecisional administrative review, or objection process, will be applied under federal regulation to all projects and activities that implement land-management plans and that are documented in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.
The Forest Service has successfully used this objection process since 2004 for hazardous-fuel reduction projects authorized under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
Within the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, Congress directed the Forest Service to also establish a predecisional objection process for other projects in lieu of the post-decisional appeal procedures that had been in use with those projects since 1993.
The new regulations respond to the statute by creating an objection process that applies to all authorized project proposals.
This final rule follows after a review of public comments submitted in response to the publication of the proposed rule last year. The rule is effective immediately but transition provisions will apply to projects already in the planning stage.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.