Someone asked me what I said in my comment to the Forest Service on the proposed rule changes, which seek to severely limit public comment on the Forest Service’s management plans and activities. So … here’s what I wrote.
“The proposed rule changes are nothing less than an attempt to circumvent established NEPA requirements.
I can understand the Forest Service’s frustration with opposition to management plans coming from amateur environmental groups. And I can understand the temptation to change the rules and eliminate the possibility of public opposition.
But the national forests belong to us all, not to the Forest Service, and the public has a right to comment and correct plans that do not take into account the variety of uses and purposes to which the public is now putting the forest – hiking, birdwatching, hunting, recreation, and relaxation.
The heritage of the Forest Service is timber production, and it is a proud one. But it has simply outlived its utility as the only, overriding goal of forest management.
Instead of kicking over the chess board, the Forest Service should embrace the new realities and needs of a diverse American constituency, and re-calibrate management objectives to reflect the importance of recreation – in all its diverse forms – in modern forest management.
Ecological considerations – old growth, connected wildlife corridors, unique and/or rare habitat, rare plants, locally rare wildlife … all deserve equal consideration along with recreation.
Again, timber production as the one and only goal of forest management is no longer valid in our current situation and in our current world.”
Public comment on the proposed rule changes ends August 12. The previous discussions include the link for comments, if you are so inclined.