WASHINGTON, AUGUST 8, 2012 AT 1:30 PM EDT - The U.S. Forest Service today published in the Federal Register a proposed regulation that will improve the administrative review process for proposed projects and activities implementing land management plans. The proposed rule is posted here.
The proposed rule for an objections process will be applied to all projects and activities that implement land management plans requiring an environmental analysis or environmental impact statement. The publication of the proposed rule will provide a 30-day public comment opportunity. All comments received will be considered before a final rule is published.
“This proposal will result in better, more informed project decisions, better documentation of environmental effects of agency proposals, and reduced regulation for administrative reviews,” said US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
The Forest Service has used a predecisional objection process for hazardous fuel reduction projects since 2004. This year Congress directed the Forest Service to also establish a predecisional objection process for other projects in lieu of the post-decisional appeal procedures in use with those projects since 1993.
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.
USDA works with state, local, and Tribal governments and private landowners to conserve and protect our nation’s natural resources – helping preserve our land, and clean our air and water. President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors initiative in 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. During the past two years, USDA’s conservation agencies— the U.S. Forest Service , the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Farm Service Agency—have delivered technical assistance and implemented restoration practices on public and private lands. We are working to better target conservation investments: embracing locally driven conservation and entering partnerships that focus on large, landscape-scale conservation.