Friends of the Inyo and conservation groups around the county are fighting back against a terrible rule change that would fundamentally undermine the Forest Service’s NEPA policies and practices. Specifically, the proposed changes would create loopholes to increase the speed and scale of resource extraction, including logging and mining, while eliminating public awareness and input on up to 93% of proposed projects. Additionally, the Forest Service has proposed several new “categorical exclusions” that would allow the agency to move project planning behind closed doors by excluding the public from the decision-making process and eliminating any science-based review of impacts to water, wildlife, and recreation. Read more about the proposed rule and its impacts in Jora’s blog post here.
The Forest Service is counting all sign-on letters as ONE comment so the importance of individual letters is paramount.
Our friends at The Wilderness Society have put together these helpful talking points for your customized letter:
- Shuts the public out of decisions about public lands. The owners of these national forests are the American people, and they must have a voice in how our shared public lands are used.
- Puts clean drinking water at risk of pollution. Millions of people in the U.S. depend on clean water that originates in our national forests. These forests serve as natural purifiers. Logging, mining, road building and related activities degrade streams and waterways and pollute water. To safeguard the nation’s supply of clean drinking water, the Forest Service should reject this rule.
- Gives extractive industries supremacy on public lands. The primary beneficiaries of the new rule are logging, mining and oil and gas companies who would directly benefit from broad discretion the forest service would now have to approve massive extractive projects with no public or scientific involvement.
- Reduces Backcountry Recreation Opportunities. The new provisions of this rule could result in thousands of miles of new roads being built into our last remaining wild places, with no public involvement or notification. Once these roads are built, they will forever change opportunities for backcountry recreation into our last remaining wild places.
- Wildlife and Pristine Forest Land. This rule will result in dramatic increases in mining, oil and gas leasing and logging that will have irreparable consequences on wildlife.
- You can also view and use this SAMPLE COMMENT LETTER.
How to Submit your Comments
There are three ways to submit comments as part of the Forest Service NEPA Rule Rewrite. All comments must be submitted to the Forest Service in writing by August 26th. This includes comments that are mailed directly. If you are planning on mailing any comments, please put them in the mail by August 21st.
- Submit comments via the public participation portal: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FS-2019-0010-0001
- In the top right corner of the comment page, there is a blue button that reads ‘Comment Now!’. If you click on the button, it will take you to the form to submit a comment.
- On the comment submission page, there are form fields to submit your comment (e.g., Comment, First Name, Last Name). You also have the option of uploading a document (such as a technical letter or sign-on letter) as well as adding your contact information. Once you have filled out your necessary fields, click on the blue button that says ‘Continue’ at the bottom of the page.
- NOTE: The comment portal has some issues certain browser extensions and won’t let you continue. If this happens, please email your comment to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The following page is a Preview of your comment. To submit your comment, you must click on the box at the bottom of the page next to ‘I read and understand the statement above.’ Then click on the blue box that says ‘Submit Comment.’
- Email your comment to: email@example.com
- When emailing your comment, be sure to include your name, address, city, state, zip code, and phone number.
- Mail a physical copy of your comment to:
NEPA Services Group, c/o Amy Barker;
USDA Forest Service,
125 South State Street, Suite 1705
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
NOTE: If you run into issues with comment submission, you can contact Christine Dawe; Director, Ecosystem Management Coordination; (406) 370-8865.