Under the guise of acting more quickly, and responding to climate change and natural disasters, the Forest Service looking to be able to cut large tracks of forest land without advance warning and without accepting public comment.

Please come to our Sierra Club meeting August 1, where Sam Evans of the Southern Environmental Law Center will present these issues, and we will write public comments to the forest service.

You can also send your comments online through OurForestsOurVoice.org. Enter this into your browser and you will be taken to a site at the Southern Environmental Law Center where you will be guided through the process of submitting your comments.

Comments will be accepted through August 12.

IMPORTANT: Youmust phrase your comments in your own words. Do not simply copy these words. All of the comments written the same will be counted as only a single comment.

The following is written by Sam Evans summarizing the basic issue which is to change the rules of NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act: The Forest Service is proposing to eliminate public participation and science-based analysis for nearly every decision affecting national forests, from timber sales to road construction to pipeline rights of way.

The Forest Service is required by law to take public comments on this proposal, but if we don’t speak up now, it could be our last chance. If the proposal moves forward, the public won’t receive notice or a chance to object to specific projects in the future.

Start your comments with your personal involvement with the forest. Public participation is essential for good decisions affecting public lands. When the Forest Service considers allowing logging, roadbuilding, mining, or fracking on our national forests, it must balance those uses with impacts to wildlife, clean water, backcountry areas, recreation on rivers and trails, and other social and economic impacts. That balancing act is impossible without listening to the people who would be affected by its decisions.

Among other things, this proposal would cut the public out of these actions:
• Commercially logging up to 4,200 acres (6.6 square miles!) at a time;
• Building up to 5 new miles of roads at a time;
• Adding illegally created roads and trails to the official roads and trails systems;
• Closing roads used by the public to access hunting areas, streams for fishing, and trails
• Bulldozing new pipeline or utility rights of way up to 20 acres (e.g., 4 miles at 40’ across)

The logging loophole created by this proposal is so big that every single timber sale in the Southern Appalachians would fit through it —meaning no more public input or science-based analysis. To give a sense of scale, 4,200 acres of harvest would cover, in a single decision: 5 years’ worth of commercial logging at current levels on the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest.

Not only would these decisions be made without public input; they would also be made without environmental review and without considering whether there are less harmful ways to meet the same needs.

(See further comments from Sam on our Sierra Club website: Wenoca.org) https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/news-feed/u.s-forest-service-proposed-to-cut-more-trees-by-cutting-publicinput

Please help! Please submit comments and/or come in person on August 1 to write your comments then. Share this with friends and ask them to do the same.