The US Forest Service (USFS) just released a proposal that would eliminate or drastically reduce public participation in approximately 93% of land management projects. This move is intended to fast-track logging, mining, drilling, and other development of our public lands—all of which deserve a robust public process and environmental analysis.
There are over 10,000 climbing areas located on USFS lands, and Access Fund relies on public involvement guaranteed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to ensure our climbing areas are protected and managed appropriately. NEPA, a law passed in 1970, mandates that you and other members of the public have a fair opportunity to comment before the federal government decides the fate of our public lands—ensuring they make informed decisions regarding environmental impacts and impacts to values like recreation. This bedrock environmental law guarantees that you have a voice in how our public lands are managed and protected.
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The USFS is proposing sweeping changes to the way it implements NEPA, by attempting to add more “categorical exclusions”, which would allow development projects to sail through without proper public comment or evaluation of environmental impacts. This move would essentially cut you—the American public—out of the decision-making process, allowing land managers to make unilateral decisions about our public lands without adequate public notice and community engagement.
This proposed change in policy undermines government transparency and accountability. Over the last 30 years, we have learned time and time again that more robust public involvement results in better land management decisions. The American public deserves the right to have a say in how our public lands are managed, and our voices are critical to ensuring the long-term conservation and sustainability of these irreplaceable landscapes.
Use the Access Fund’s easy letter-writing tool to tell the US Forest Service that you do not agree with their proposed changes to NEPA, which would limit your voice and diminish the integrity of America’s public lands. This proposal is open for public comment through August 26, 2019. The next page contains talking points to help you draft your letter.
This article originally appeared on accessfund.com.