Forest Service proposes to streamline land management plan review process

Provides the public comment opportunity for some land management plans

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Forest Service last week 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 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.

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