This week, the full House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 2936, the “Resilient Federal Forests Act,” introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR). Under the guise of addressing fire, the bill proposes a number of deeply problematic provisions, including removing all required environmental analysis and public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) from the development of forest plans, the management blueprints for national forests, which last 15 to 20 years, or more.
Forest planning is a cornerstone of how our national forests are managed, and analysis under NEPA is an essential part of that process. NEPA ensures that land management decisions consider environmental impacts, but it’s also an essential element of public process in decision making, allowing the public to weigh in on alternatives under consideration.
NEPA is a big part of how public landowners (i.e., all of us) make sure that agencies are doing their jobs and considering things that can affect ecological values and outdoor recreation. It also should go without saying that developing a 15 to 20 year management plan needs to include proper environmental analysis.
Among the bill’s other provisions, it would:
- Create “categorical exclusions” from environmental analysis for logging projects on areas up to 30,000 acres;
- Drastically curtail opportunities for judicial review of land management decisions;
- Imperil roadless areas and national monument protections; and
- Fail to fully address the problem of fire suppression funding.
The House is expected to vote on this bill as soon as Wednesday, November 1. Please take a moment to reach out to your representative.