Oppose New Forest Planning Rules


As an early Christmas present, the Bush administration released new rules for managing national forests. These new rules eliminate the most fundamental wildlife protections, open up millions of acres of national forests including old growth, roadless areas and sensitive wildlife habitat to harmful activities, disregards science and shuts the public out of meaningful input.

While the new rules eliminate many protections outright, there is still an opportunity to comment on the rule for adopting or changing forest management plans. Forest plans are the long-term "blue prints" that govern how public forests and grasslands are managed. These plans identify how much logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, road building, grazing and motorized recreation will take place and where.

Forest plans are analogous to a county general plan, which lays out what development will take place. After the long-term plan is approved, projects to carry out the plan are then implemented over time.


The administration is accepting comments on only one portion of the new rules: it proposes to exempt forest management plans from environmental review and public input under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The rest of the rule changes are final as of January 5, 2005. The proposed rule would no longer require an analysis of the environmental impacts of a forest plan, revisions or amendments, including any analysis of alternatives that may be less impactful or public review of the proposed plans. Click here for detailed analysis of rule changes

Please send a letter urging the Bush administration to abandon its proposed rule change and make the following points:

[You/your group] strongly opposes the January 5, 2005 proposed rule change that would exempt forest management plans, revisions or amendments from environmental review and meaningful public input under the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposed new rule would:

Hide from the public adequate information to evaluate the environmental consequences of forest plans and disregards the best available science in favor of commercial interests;

Make it easier for timber, oil, gas, mining and motorized recreation corporations to profit from the use of public forests while eliminating the need for forest managers to assess potentially harmful impacts on water, wildlife, recreational use, old growth and roadless areas;

Worsen the assault on wildlife. Without environmental analysis of a forest plan or changes to a plan, the impacts to wildlife will not be understood. The new regulations have already abolished the requirements to maintain viable populations of species and to monitor those populations. Adopting this new proposal effectively removes all enforceable requirements to analyze and monitor wildlife health, both at the forest plan and at the project level; and

Call for environmental analysis to be done only at the project level. But the Bush administration has already exempted many types of logging projects from environmental review under NEPA mostly through the misnamed "Healthy Forest Initiative" in effect eliminating all environmental review and opportunity for public comment.

Additionally, the proposed rule would eliminate studying or disclosing the cumulative impact of management activities across the national forest, which is usually done at the planning stage.

Send your comments to:

USDA Content Analysis Team
Attention: Planning CE
P.O. Box 22777
Salt Lake City, UT 84122
Fax: 801.517.1015

Randi Spivak
American Lands Alliance
Executive Director
726th 7th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202.547.9029
Fax: 202.547.9213


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Januar 2005

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