Introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) on November 2, 2017, this bill would greatly increase logging of national forest lands while reducing environmental safeguards and opportunities for public involvement in national forest management. The legislation limits opportunities for citizen involvement in public land management, and removes essential checks on Forest Service compliance with the law.
A sweeping combination of S. 1731 (“Forest Management Improvement Act”), S. 879 (“National Forest Ecosystem Improvement Act”), S. 605 (“Litigation Relief for Forest Management Projects”) and S. 1417 (“Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act of 2017”)— S. 2068 would establish new categorical exclusions for prescribed projects for areas as large as 6,000 acres. This “industry knows best” policy of “thinning” (read: logging) could result in the removal of the largest and most fire-resistant trees in forests. The young trees planted to replace cut trees are highly susceptible to fire.
The “Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2017” would also discard the basic principle that the federal government should make informed decisions based on the best available information. This bill blindfolds decision-makers by gutting NEPA review for some projects and eliminates federal agencies’ ability to consider alternative plans of action for all others. As written, this bill only allows for the consideration of two options for forest projects: 1) the agency’s proposed action, or 2) no action at all. Limiting the federal government’s ability to perform due diligence is a blatant attempt to eliminate public accountability from government decision-making in the name of corporate profits.
For additional legislative information and to track the bill’s progress, please click HERE.