The Trump administration is poised to finalize a rule tomorrow that would make it easier to pursue the administration’s goal to ramp up logging and other harmful extractive activities within America’s treasured national forests. The final U.S. Forest Service National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations limit public engagement and environmental review of Forest Service land management decisions and roll back longstanding protocols that the administration considers as barriers to accelerated timber production on national forests.
One of many controversial changes would allow the Forest Service to log large blocks of national forest land – up to 4.3 square miles – without substantive public input or environmental review, using what the agency calls a “categorical exclusion.” Authorizing large logging projects without significant environmental review could have devastating implications for imperiled wildlife; for example, the average home range of the federally threatened Mexican spotted owl is less than 4 square miles, meaning that under this rule, entire core habitat areas could be degraded without critical review.
Statement by Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife:
“The final Forest Service NEPA rule epitomizes the Trump administration’s disastrous approach to the environment – it shuts out the public, ignores the science, and delivers favors to special interests, regardless of the harm to forests, water, wildlife and the climate. Our national forests are a national treasure and act as strongholds for endangered species conservation. Defenders of Wildlife will not sit idly by and witness the willful degradation of forest lands.”