There is a great deal of good work that can be done administratively on the part of the USDA Forest Service to encourage more active federal forest management.
WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters has submitted extensive comments on the USDA Forest Service’s plan to revise its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and planning procedures. The association and the 59 state and territorial foresters it represents believe strongly that the Forest Service can make administrative changes to its implementation of NEPA that will result in tremendous benefits for the nation’s forests.
“We applaud efforts at the Forest Service to revise NEPA procedures and are ready to assist in assuring its review yields planning improvements, and ultimately, healthier federal forests,” said George Geissler, NASF president and Oklahoma state forester, in the association’s formal comments.
“The health and resilience of our federal forests depends on active management – without it, they become more susceptible to invasive insects, disease, and catastrophic wildfire and steadily lose their value as carbon sinks and natural filters for our nation’s air and water,” he continued. “What’s more, the insects, disease, and wildfire that occur on federal forests often migrate to state and privately owned forestlands to great detriment. NASF is committed to protecting America’s forestland resources, and for this reason, asks the Forest Service to consider our recommendations to improve forest management on federal lands.”
Among NASF’s recommendations was a proposal to lower the agency’s costs for planning, regulatory compliance, and litigation by instituting alternative planning models that incorporate categorical exclusions.
“Too often, critical forest management work is delayed as a result of NEPA litigation driven by an obstructionist agenda, leaving federal forests to degrade,” said Jay Farrell, NASF executive director. “State foresters are trained natural resource professionals with scientific degrees in sustainably managing forests – they understand what these project delays mean for the health and resiliency of our nation’s forests and they’re saying ‘it’s time for a change.’”
NASF also encouraged the Forest Service to consider streamlining its other, associated planning processes to increase efficiencies and enhance implementation of its programs. To read all its recommendations, click here.
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