31 Oct 2009, 12:16pm
Federal forest policy Saving Forests
by admin

Fire Use NEPA Test Case on the RR-SNF

In March 2008, officials of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest issued a Notice indicating that they intended to alter the RR-SNF Fire Plan by incorporating WFU (wildland fire use) and AMR (Appropriate Management Response). The Notice was intended as a first step in preparation of an EA (Environmental Assessment) as required under NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act).

W.I.S.E. prepared and submitted (within the designated 30 days) a 170-page scoping comment [here] as requested and authorized under NEPA process guidelines .

The RR-SNF went silent and did not respond. In June of 2008 W.I.S.E. requested the RR-SNF Fire Plan under the Freedom of Information Act. The RR-SNF refused to comply and did not sent their Fire Plan to us as required by federal law.

Then yesterday, after year and a half of silence on their part, I unexpectedly received in the mail the brand new RR-SNF Fire Use Amendment Environmental Assessment. I checked their website, and the (150-page) document is posted [here].

This is the test case for whoofoo. The RR-SNF did not sidestep the NEPA process, as the USFS has on so many other NF’s. Nor did the RR-SNF prepare their EA in a cursory manner; it is an extensive report. All indications are that the USFS wants this issue tested in court. I hope we can give them the worthy opposition they deserve.

Please peruse all the docs mentioned, compose your reactions, and email them to me. Your insights will be most appreciated.

Thank you.

Mike Dubrasich, Exec Dir W.I.S.E.

31 Oct 2009, 5:09pm
by Larry H.

Just a quick, off-the-cuff comment to start with after looking over a dozen pages, or so.

“Use prescribed fire and unplanned fire for resource benefit (fire use) to obtain desired ecological characteristics of the area.”

This is quoted many times as their boilerplate phrase but, they don’t define exactly what the resource benefits are or, what the “desired ecological characteristics” really are. Let’s try something quick and easy, here.

“Use prescribed logging and unplanned logging for resource benefit (logging use) to obtain desired ecological characteristics of the area.”

All I did was substitute “logging” for “fire” and now, that should give us the waiver we need to restore our forests without litigation and protest, eh?

3 Nov 2009, 11:32am
by Ned

This is indeed a test case. Although, the NFMA states that a Forest Plan maybe amended “in any manner whatsoever” (Sec.6). NEPA regulations require an Environmental Impact Statement if the amendment is “significant”. The purpose of an Environmental Assessment under NEPA regulations is to determine if the proposed project is significant. Normally the determination is documented in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) that is signed by the Forest Supervisor and included with the EA.

Page III-26 of the EA explains that the actual determination of significance will be determined in a forthcoming decision document. However, we are left to speculate on the significance until the decision notice by the Forest Supervisor and there is no indication of when that decision will be made or why it was not included with the EA as would normally be the case. Certainly we must wonder about the effect of this EA and the motive behind the effort.

There can be no doubt that this proposed action is significant. One only needs to read appendix D to understand that it is significant. If that is not convincing one only needs to look at the results of AMR and WFU on other national forests to understand that management by accident is a significant departure from forest plans that were prepared in 1989 and 1990.

If this action is implemented by an Environmental Assessment it can be easily appealed. If the appeal is denied it could be easily litigated by even a poor lawyer. There is no basis for a Finding of No Significant Impact. Although, The EA attempts to make it sound like the proposal is a simple word change; anyone familiar with the results of AMR and WFU (management by accident) on other National Forests should know better.

However, I must give the RR-SNF credit for at least writing a NEPA document to implement AMR and WFR. Other National Forests have implemented the policy in violation of NEPA and NFMA, often with catastrophic results.



web site

leave a comment

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta