WASHINGTON—The nation’s 59 state and territorial foresters fully support the USDA Forest Service’s proposal to modernize its compliance processes associated with National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reviews.
“For several years now, state foresters have called on the Forest Service to streamline their NEPA review processes,” said Lisa Allen, NASF president and Missouri state forester. “NEPA review is important, but right now, getting through it can take three or more years time—time we don’t have to spare. The proposed rule would help to ensure critical forest management work on federally managed forests is getting done, and done in a timely fashion.”
Among other improvements, the Forest Service’s proposed rule would create new administrative categorical exclusions (CEs) and revise some existing CEs to allow for more forest restoration projects and roads and trails management.
CEs allow for certain federal agency actions to progress subject to a streamlined NEPA review process, which would otherwise require the lead agency to prepare a more laborious environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental assessment (EA). With a CE, forest management work can be started and completed sooner—before wood has time to rot, or worse, fuel catastrophic wildfires.
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