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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Access (Land Use, RTF, Advocacy, etc)  |  General Land Advocacy  |  Topic: Push for Obama to change some of the Bush rules « previous next »
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Author Topic: Push for Obama to change some of the Bush rules  (Read 875 times)
Todd Ockert
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« on: November 25, 2008, 11:00:22 am »

Got all this from the American Lands Alliance web site.  Some of the things they are going to push for President Obama to change.
http://www.americanlands.org/

11.07.08 A new direction for Interior under Obama
http://americanlands.org/index.php?id=273

11.14.08 How Obama can start to save planet
http://americanlands.org/index.php?id=289

Their current campaigns: http://americanlands.org/index.php?id=3
merican Lands Alliance works on multiple issues that concern our public forests. Public forests are among the most beloved and precious natural resources in the United States. They provide clean air and water, regulate the climate, and are vital to our quality of life and the survival of fish and wildlife. There are 155 national forests encompassing 193 million acres managed by the Forest Service and there are 11 million acres of forest lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Ninety-five percent of the original native forests of this country have already been lost, and our public lands contain some of the last remaining refuges of native forests and biological diversity.

In order to restore and protect our public forests, and the vast range of ecosystems services they provide (put link to explanation of ecosystems services), American Lands focuses on several priority campaigns each year. In this section, you will read detailed descriptions of our current campaigns.

Our climate change campaign seeks to increase the carbon storage potential of our forests to help mitigate climate change, while protecting habitat, clean air and water, and other important benefits forests provide.
Our Roadless Rule campaign seeks to reinstate the Roadless Rule, which protects over 50 million acres of pristine unroaded forestlands through administrative or legislative means.
Our Pacific Northwest Old Growth Legacy campaign seeks to protect and restore the mature and old-growth forests of Oregon, Washington, and Northwestern California from the relentless attack by the Bush administration and extractive industries.
Last but not least, our Restoration Campaign seeks to ecologically restore ecosystem functions and processes in our public forests by working in partnership with the community-based forestry groups and other allies.
Campaigns are fluid in nature and have many different components. Check back here often to view new facts sheets, scientific reports, action alerts, and news articles. With your energy and participation, we can work together to protect our public forests.

Take a look here to see what they are attempting to do to make more wilderness and keep us off our public lands.

Todd
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 11:20:00 am »

More info, and took this from the Pirate4x4 site. A member there got this in an email.
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?p=9049647#post9049647

Subject:
Sign On New Admin First 100-Day Forest Priorities, New Deadline Nov. 21

Date:
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 14:31:19 -0500 (EST)

From:
Anne Martin, American Lands Alliance

Reply-To:
annem@americanlands.org

To:
scott@almarmfg.com




All,

Transition teams for the new administration are beginning their work. The Obama team has picked David Hayes, who served as deputy secretary at Interior during the Clinton years, to oversee efforts for Interior, EPA, Energy and Agriculture. While the transition teams will be focused on recommending personnel, they will also be looking at some policy initiatives for early action.

American Lands Alliance, with the input of many groups, has developed a list of Forest Conservation Community National Forest Priorities for the New Administration to send to the Obama-Biden transition team for public forests and related issues. Below are the cover letter and list of forest priorities.

We are seeking organizational sign on for the letter. Please consider Executive Director level sign on if possible. We would like to send the list to the transition team with a large number of groups signed on. The more groups that sign on, the stronger our chances are to get these issues addressed.

PLEASE NOTE EXTENDED DEADLINE: For those that have already seen the letter, we have extended the deadline to allow time for more groups to sign on. Also, a few minor corrections have been made to the list of forest priorities. The old growth moratorium and recommendations to develop climate policy have been extended to BLM lands.



Sign on by COB Friday, November 21st



Please send sign-ons to Anne Martin at: annem@americanlands.org

Please list your name and organization, CEO/ED titles preferred.

If you have any questions, please call Anne Martin at (509) 624-5657 or Randi Spivak at (202) 547-9029.

Thanks for all of your efforts to protect our forests and public lands.



Randi





************************************************** ******************************





November 22, 2008





Mr. David Hayes

Obama Transition Team

Address
Washington, DC



RE: 100-Day Priorities for Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service



Dear David,

On behalf of our over XXX members, we are writing to ask that you consider the following requests for early action for the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service that have jurisdiction over public lands and fish and wildlife resources.

We strongly agree with President-elect Obama's fact sheet on "Promoting A Healthy Environment," which states that "we need a new vision for conservation that both protects our existing publicly-owned lands while dramatically expanding investments in protecting and restoring forests, grasslands, and wetlands across America for generations to come." We stand ready to work with the new President to make that vision a reality.

Too often federal land and resource management agencies operate under conflicting mandates with timber, mining, motorized recreation, and other private industry that are allowed to exploit resources at both the environment's and taxpayer's expense. Public lands will come under increasing pressure from urban/suburban and energy development. Additionally, climate change will present the greatest challenge to protecting these natural resources. In light of these stressors, and the importance of public lands to biodiversity, federal land management agencies should prioritize managing public lands for ecological sustainability to protect the irreplaceable benefits and ecosystem services provided by public lands, including clean drinking water and air, reservoirs for biodiversity, core refugia for wildlife and fish, flood control, carbon sequestration and storage, and recreation. Importantly, the budgets for these agencies should reflect these new priorities.

Just as you have identified the opportunity to create a Clean Energy Economy that will create green jobs, a similar opportunity exists to create an Environmental Restoration Economy that will create family-wage jobs to help restore our public lands and watersheds while helping to significantly contribute to rural economies. These rural green jobs would be directly complementary to those in the Clean Energy Economy. In addition, forest and watershed restoration will help ensure that our natural ecosystems, both terrestrial and aquatic, are as resilient as possible to the consequences of climate change, and provide critical linkages that allow species to disperse to new areas in response to changing temperatures and conditions.

While these proactive opportunities create both long and short-term priorities, the nation cannot implement them without first reversing the Bush administration's damaging environmental legacy. Those actions and regulations dramatically reduced existing protections for federal forests, watersheds and wildlife, public participation, and scientific integrity. The hallmark of the Bush administration has been political interference in science to pave the way for extractive uses on public lands that put numerous species at risk, and cutting the public out of the decision-making process on federal forests at the planning, project, and accountability levels.

The attached list identifies what we have determined are high-priority issues for early action that would both reverse damaging policies promulgated by the Bush administration, and begin to promote the type of positive change that President-elect Obama envisions. We ask that the policy transition team begin to address these in the first 100 days of the new administration. The list also contains actions for your consideration for the second 100 days.

We greatly appreciate your consideration of our requests and look forward to working with you.



Signatures….

Name, Title
Organization





Forest Conservation Community

National Forest Priorities for the New Administration

First 100 Days - Begin to Reverse Bush's Damaging Legacy

Department of Agriculture: U.S. Forest Service

1. Forest Climate Policy: Protect all large, mature and old-growth forests and trees on federal lands; develop comprehensive climate policy for forests

Through Executive Order or directive, issue a moratorium to prohibit logging mature and old-growth forests and large and old trees recognizing the significant role they play in maintaining and increasing forest resiliency against natural disturbances, providing critical habitat and core refugia, regulating water quality and flows, providing crucial genetic diversity and for their significant contribution to carbon sequestration and storage.
Develop comprehensive climate policy for federal forests that shifts management to ecological sustainability[1]. This includes maintaining and restoring intact ecosystems including older forests, and natural processes as appropriate, reducing ecosystem stressors, and protecting the ecosystem services that forests provide such as clean water, clean air, fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, carbon storage and sequestration and appropriate recreation opportunities.
Begin planning for a late 2009 science summit to determine appropriate climate policy and foster interagency cooperation.
Rationale: Only a fraction of older forests remain today compared to their historic range by forest type. Most are in the west, especially in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, but important older forests are also found in lower levels around the nation. The urgency to protect these forests is even more important given the threats of climate change to natural forest systems, especially thematureclass-tomorrow's old growth. While logging older forests on federal lands has abated in recent years, the practice continues on many national forests with ensuing conflicts. Many individual or regional forest plans allow cutting of older trees and stands or are now in jeopardy of being logged as a result of weakened regulations such as the 2008 National Forest Management Act Regulations. There are several approaches that can be used for defining what older forests are. Importantly, the Executive order or directive would not preclude legitimate hazardous fuels reduction projects from moving forward. While the science is very clear on the importance of protecting remaining older forests, comprehensive climate change policy for federal forests is needed. Policies to date have largely focused on thinning strategies and have not adequately addressed critical adaptation issues such as reducing habitat fragmentation, identifying wildlife migration corridors, improving flood control and hydrological functions, and removing stressors to terrestrial and aquatic systems. Public forests will come under increasing pressure from development and as sources for energy.

Furthermore, federal planning for climate change has been slow, poorly coordinated among regions, agencies, and jurisdictions, and has yet to embrace the latest science on climate change adaptation strategies. Calling national attention to this overarching issue through a summit, linking climate change preparation to energy policy, and issuing new direction to agencies should be a top priority.

2. Restore Protections for America's Roadless Wild Forests

Affirm and vigorously defend the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule (36 CFR Part 294), the most popular federal regulation in U.S. history, nationwide.
Save the wildlands of America's last great rainforest by announcing the expiration of the Bush administration's "temporary" exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule.
Rationale: Using a range of tactics, the Bush administration has attempted to dismantle the roadless rule since taking office. In December 2003, Bush officials "temporarily" exempted Alaska's Tongass rainforest-our largest national forest-from roadless protections. The decision removes some 9 million acres of the Tongass from protection under the Clinton era regulation. In order to fulfill the Obama-Biden pledge to uphold roadless area protections on 58.5 million acres, protections must be reinstated to the Tongass National Forest.

3. Reinstate Strong Ecosystem Protections - Forest Planning Regulations

a. National Policy:

Issue a moratorium on the use of the Bush administration's 2008 National Forest Management Act (NFMA) regulations (36 CFR Part 219) and clarify that national forests may proceed with forest plan revisions and amendments pursuant to the 1982 NFMA regulations (as amended in 1983).
Publish a proposed rule to rescind the 2008 NFMA regulations and the categorical exclusion (CE) for forest plans, and reinstate the 1982 NFMA regulations (as amended in 1983).
Rationale: The 2008 Bush administration's forest planning rule epitomizes their aggressive campaign to limit public involvement and scrutiny and scientific accountability and fresh thinking required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for management decisions on public lands. Claiming that long-term forest management plans do not have significant environmental impacts, the 2008 regulations, found illegal by the court, allow forest plan amendments and revisions to be categorically excluded under NEPA. Categorical exclusions (CEs), used properly, allow agencies to dispense with NEPA review for classes of actions known not to have significant environmental impacts. These regulations also eliminated the requirement for agencies to maintain viable populations of species. Reverting to the 1982 regulations would provide strong standards and accountability.

b. Regional Policy:

Reinstate protections for mature and old-growth habitat and associated species
(i) Northwest Forest Plan (24.5 million acres)

Suspend implementation of all changes to the Northwest Forest Plan that occurred under the Bush administration.
Issue a revised Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for Survey and Manage provisions of the Northwest Forest Plan that also addresses annual species reviews.
(ii) Sierra Nevada 2004 Framework (10.9 million acres)

Through forest plan amendments; incorporate the best available science for mature and old-growth forests and dependent species (e.g. Pacific fisher, American marten, and California spotted owl) into the Sierra Nevada Framework, as well as correct NEPA shortcomings of the 2004 Framework, including those identified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Rationale: The regional plans for California and the Pacific Northwest have both been targets for weakening protections for mature and old-growth forests and the wildlife and fish species that depend on them in order to facilitate logging of these forests. The result has been increased public controversy, damage to habitat, and siphoning limited agency resources away from legitimate restoration efforts. We urge the administration to reinstate appropriate protections as recommended.

4. Stop Damaging Projects that Exempt Environmental Analysis and Public Participation (Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM))

Issue a temporary moratorium on the use of Bush administration and selected other categorical exclusions (CE) by both the Forest Service and the BLM (Appendix attached) until this review has been completed and specific CEs have been repealed through a rule-making process. In the interim, projects can move forward with an EA or EIS.
Issue a new rule to repeal the June 2003 Forest Service Hazardous Fuels CE (36 CFR 220.6(e)(10))that permits up to 4,500 acres of prescribed burning or up to 1,000 acres of mechanical treatments as well as the June 2003 BLM's Hazardous Fuels CE. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that both CEs are illegal (Sierra Club and Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign v. Bosworth et. al., 510 F.3d 1016 (9th Cir. 2007)).
Begin rule-making process to reinstate the former Forest Service's NEPA procedures.
Rationale: As part of their rationale for revising the NFMA forest planning rules, the Bush administration claimed that NEPA analysis would be conducted at the project level. But in a classic "bait and switch" move, the Bush administration issued a suite of CEs for numerous categories of management, also claiming that these actions would not have a significant impact on the environment. Issuing a moratorium while a review is conducted to determine which categories of actions should be repealed or revised is a reasonable way to proceed. The Hazardous Fuels CE noted above and ruled illegal by the courts should be immediately repealed.

U.S. Forest Service Budget FY 2010

1. Fire Spending

Create a reliable emergency fund for wildfire suppression activities that is separate from the Forest Service discretionary fund to address increasing costs to fight large-scale fires that routinely exceed the base line annually appropriated budget.
Rationale: Wildfire suppression costs in 2007 were nearly $1 billion more than what was appropriated and account for almost half of the Forest Service budget. To cover costs, the Forest Service routinely raids other critical Forest Service programs-many of which are already severely under-funded including ironically, programs to help local governments fight and prevent fires. As a result the Forest Service is unable to adequately protect and restore forests, fish and wildlife habitat, clean water, and provide recreation opportunities. There are other important reforms needed to the fire program, but the most critical is to immediately provide for reliable emergency fire suppression funds.

2. Increased Funding for Watershed Restoration

Continue funding the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative created in the FY 2008 Interior, Environmental, and Related Agencies Division of Fiscal Consolidation Appropriations bill ($70 million). These funds are for watersheds in urgent need of repair by road decommissioning, road and trail repair and maintenance, and removal of fish passage barriers that pose an active threat to clean water, threatened and endangered fish and wildlife, and the safety of recreational users of forest roads.
Increase funding for restoration activities especially fish and wildlife habitat restoration in order to restore watershed integrity, increase adaptability and resilience to mitigate the impacts of climate change and create local jobs.
Rationale: Chronic under funding for protecting and restoring irreplaceable environmental services including clean water, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, erosion and flood protection, nutrient cycling, soil formation, and recreation has severely impeded the abilities of the Forest Service to effectively carry out their mission. Adequate funding for these activities is especially critical to undertake wildlife adaptation strategies in the face of climate change. Road decommissioning and other remediation activities will significantly improve water quality and fish habitat, reduce fragmentation of wildlife habitat, and aid in restoring stability and resilience to watersheds and large tracts of forests. There is at least $220 million in other programs that can be reallocated to fund restoration activities.


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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2008, 11:21:12 am »

Part 2 of the above.

Department of Interior: Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

1. End Rule-Making to Revise Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Pull the Department of Interior's proposal to revise ESA Section 7 Rule.
Rationale: Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's proposed regulations would eliminate one of the ESA's most fundamental provisions; the requirement for independent scientific reviews of any project that could harm an endangered species living on federal land. Under current rules, federal agencies are required to submit their plans to either the FWS or the National Marine Fisheries Service, giving scientists at those agencies the right to say no to any project or, as is most often the case, to require modifications if the project threatens an endangered species. This proposal would effectively remove these agencies, whose job is to oversee the ESA, from the process.

2. Reinstate Protections for Mature and Old-Growth Habitat, Water and Salmon Under the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP)

Issue a supplemental Final Environment Impact Statement and Record of Decision, rescinding the BLM's Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) and reaffirming implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan to ensure compliance with the ESA and the Clean Water Act and other applicable federal laws.
Stop implementation of the Final Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat designation and related final Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan and revise them in response to the scientific peer review ignored by the FWS, particularly direct FWS to use the NWFP late-successional reserves as a habitat baseline for owl recovery as recommended by peer review. During this process, continue to implement the NWFP and Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Action 32 to maintain all older and structurally complex conifer forests on federal lands in the range of the northern spotted owl as well as barred owl science efforts.
Use the best available science for the marbled murrelet in the status review and delisting process.
Rationale:Beginning in late 2001, the timber industry mounted an aggressive campaign to increase the amount of timber cut from Northwest federal forests by weakening protections for salmon, clean water, and old-growth forest ecosystems under the Northwest Forest Plan. The Bush administration agreed to the timber industry's 5-point plan to unravel environmental safeguards including eliminating critical habitat in the matrix lands where logging may occur to "significantly expedite timber sales throughout the region," to amend the NWFP to make timber production the dominant use of BLM O&C lands, and to eliminate most old-growth and riparian reserves on such lands. The Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, which failed independent scientific peer review provides up to 56% less habitat in Managed Owl Conservation Areas compared to the Northwest Forest Plan's Late-Successional Reserves (LSRs) because many of the LSRs were excluded from recovery goals and are therefore vulnerable to logging. The BLM WOPR would increase logging of old growth by 436%, build over 1000 miles of roads, and release 180 million tons more carbon to the atmosphere compared to no logging. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 1 million cars driven for 132 years.

3. Protect Grand Canyon from Uranium Mining from BLM and Forest Service Proposals

Direct the Secretary of Interior to comply with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources' Emergency Resolution compelling the Secretary of the Interior (pursuant to Section 204(e) of FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1714(e) and 43 C.F.R. § 2310.5) to immediately withdraw the approximately 1 million acres of federal land near Grand Canyon National Park to protect these lands from uranium mining. The emergency withdrawal is temporary, and can last no more than 3 years.
Reverse Department of Interior's proposed elimination of its regulation, which required the agency to comply with emergency withdrawal resolutions, (43 CFR Part 2300, with a proposed rule issued at 73 Fed. Reg. 60212, Oct. 10, 2008).
Rationale: The government must consider the danger of uranium leaching into the Colorado River, which could poison a source of drinking water for Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. In June, the House Natural Resources Committee issued a withdrawal order, which is allowed under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) for about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon, including the land the claims were filed on. Now the Department of Interior has proposed scrapping its own rule that puts withdrawal orders from the congressional committees into practice. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano in March urged Secretary Kempthorne to halt new claims and order a study of uranium mining near the canyon.

4. Bring Back Law at the Border

Immediately reinstate laws, evaluate alternatives to mitigate damage from completed and ongoing construction of the border wall along our border with Mexico, and halt construction pending a comprehensive review of impacts.
Rationale: Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, has waived all environmental laws for construction of walls and roads for 550 miles of the southern border, including wilderness areas, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and national monuments. Construction of roads and barriers along lands managed by the National Park Service and BLM are being built without any environmental laws; damage to resources has already occurred.

5. Strengthen Protections on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands

Through Executive Order or directive, issue a moratorium to prohibit logging mature and old-growth forests and large and old trees on BLM lands recognizing the significant role they play in maintaining and increasing forest resiliency against natural disturbances, providing critical habitat and core refugia, regulating water quality and flows, providing crucial genetic diversity and for their significant contribution to carbon sequestration and storage.
Develop comprehensive climate policy for BLM land that shifts management to ecological sustainability[2]. This includes maintaining and restoring intact ecosystems including older forests, and natural processes as appropriate, reducing ecosystem stressors, and protecting the ecosystem services that these lands provide such as clean water, clean air, fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, carbon storage and sequestration and appropriate recreation opportunities.
Through Executive Order or rule making, strengthen the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) by adding strong wildlife protection standards consistent with the 1982 NFMA viability regulations.
Rationale: The BLM has jurisdiction over 258 million acres of forests, grasslands, sagebrush steppe, deserts and wetlands. The BLM also manages 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate[3] of which most of the acreage is located in the National Forest System, National Wildlife Refuge System and National Park System. The BLM manages its lands primarily for resource extraction. The Bureau's guiding statute, FLPMA has less protection for wildlife than other federal land management agencies. The mismanagement of these lands has earned the Bureau nicknames such as "The Bureau of Livestock and Mining." The BLM's proposal to increase logging of old-growth forests by over 400% is just one example of the Bureau's mismanagement of its land holdings. In addition, BLM lands will be increasingly under pressure from energy development as well as providing sites for alternative forms of energy. As such, basic protection standards for wildlife in these ecosystems need to be established for the BLM.



Additional Actions Items to Begin During the Second 100 Days

1. Protect Public Lands from Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Damage

Issue a directive to ensure the Travel Planning Process (36 CFR 212):

Prohibits designation of motorized routes in roadless or wilderness study areas during any travel planning processes.
Determines the minimum road system needed for each national forest by completing part A of travel planning which requires that national foreststheir entire road system and identify which roads should be decommissioned and which roads should be retained. In order to meet the projected goals in the agency's 2001 long-term transportation policy and as implementation of part A, ensure that all forests reduce their road systems by at least 25-50%.
Expands enforcement, monitoring, and maintenance capacity of the agency to effectively implement new travel plans.
Rationale: Irresponsible motorized off-road vehicle travel on national forests poses some of the greatest threats to these lands harming streams, disturbing wildlife and damaging cultural sites - especially roadless areas. Recognizing the threat, the 2001 long-term transportation policy envisions the eventual removal of between 140,000-186,000 miles of roads once the minimum road system has been identified for each national forest. In addition, the 2005 travel planning rule mandates an end to almost all cross-country travel by off-road vehicles and requires that all national forests identify which routes are open to motorized use. Prohibiting the designation of ORV routes in roadless areas through a travel management plan directive would add important protection that is not addressed in the current roadless policy. In addition, while the travel planning process is underway, very few national forests have analyzed their road system which is required under part A, nor are most addressing snowmobile use, as required under part C. Identifying the minimum road system needed would enable each national forest to comprehensively plan travel needs, and to restore watershed health and integrity by more effectively implementing the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative. Decommissioning roads also creates skilled, high-wage jobs in rural, communities reducing habitat fragmentation and helping to build resiliency into the ecosystem.

2. Repeal Regulations that Weaken Environmental Analysis and Public Participation

Direct the Forest Service to:

Issue a temporary moratorium on: (i) the ability of the Forest Service to use a narrow consideration of the potential loss of "economic value" to declare an "emergency situation" as allowed in the 2003 Bush administration Notice, Comment, and Appeal Procedures for the National Forest System Projects and Activities (NCA regulations), 36 CFR § 215.2; and (ii) the authority in NCA regulations 36 CFR § 215.10 for the Chief to delegate the authority to determine "emergency situations";
Promptly post on the internet: (i) (a) a copy of the legal notice of the decision; b) indication of the date the notice was published; and c) directions to determine when the comments or appeals are due. (ii) Indicate in the notice of decision or request for comments that this information will be posted on the Forest Service's web site. (iii) If a timely appeal is received and an investigation reveals either (i) or (ii) was not complied with, the decision must be withdrawn and proper notice given; and
Begin a new rule-making process to repeal the 2003 NCA regulations and develop new regulations that ensure public participation and fully implement the Appeals Reform Act (ARA) (322, Pub. L. No. 102-381, 106 Stat. 1419 (1992)).
Rationale: The Bush administration's 2003 Notice, Comment and Appeal regulations (NCA regulations, 36 CFR Part 215) to implement the ARA undermine effective public participation and allow the Forest Service to exclude the public from participating in management decisions of national forests. For example by: 1) prohibiting citizens from appealing CEs; and 2) making it extremely difficult for citizens to comment by prohibiting communication of legal notices and other relevant information to be posted on the internet and instead requiring that legal notices be published in local newspapers. These regulations also added the ability for an "emergency situation" determination to be based in whole or in part on "economic value." The proposed moratorium would allow only the Forest Service Chief to determine if an emergency situation exists and reinstate the former practice of only considering "hazards threatening human health and safety or natural resources on those National Forest System or adjacent lands."

Courts have ruled that various provisions of these regulations violate the ARA. On October 8, 2008, the Supreme Court heard the case Summers v Earth Island Institute, No. 07-463. The Supreme Court is considering procedural aspects (standing, ripeness, and appropriateness of a nationwide injunction) of a 9th Circuit ruling that held that parts of the regulations violate the ARA. As the court is addressing procedural issues, the ruling will not negate the need for new regulations.

3. Forest Climate Policy: Require that Climate Change be Considered in National Forest and BLM Management Plans

Require that national forest management plans assess the impacts of climate change on wildlife and forest ecosystems, and incorporate science based strategies to restore natural processes, help wildlife and fish adapt, increase forest resiliency, protect biodiversity, provide flood control, carbon storage and sequestration functions, and appropriate recreation.
Rationale: Anticipated impacts of and appropriate strategies to address climate change should be incorporated into forest plans. Policies to date have largely focused on thinning strategies to reduce hazardous fuels but have not adequately addressed critical adaptation issues such as reducing habitat fragmentation, identifying wildlife migration corridors, improving flood control and hydrological functions, and removing stressors to forests, aquatic and riparian zones.

4. Reverse Weakening of Hardrock Mining Regulations and Policy

Reinstate BLM's hardrock mining regulations (43 CFR Subpart 3809) that were significantly weakened by the Bush administration in 2001 (See 66 Fed. Reg. 54834, Oct. 30, 2001) by issuing a Solicitor/Secretarial legal opinion as the basis for a new regulation.
Reinstate Interior Solicitor and Secretarial Decisions regarding the proper interpretation of the 1872 Mining Law that were overturned by the Bush administration in October 2003 (See 68 Fed. Reg. 61046, Oct. 24, 2003) by issuing Solicitor/Secretarial legal opinions as the basis for new regulations.
Suspend the BLM's proposed rule (72 Fed. Reg. 8139, Feb. 23, 2007) that would circumvent the federal court order in Mineral Policy Center v. Norton (292 F.Supp.2d 30, D.D.C. 2003) requiring the BLM to obtain "fair market value" for mining operations conducted on public lands for which the validity of mining claims had not been verified.
Rationale: In the West, more than 40 percent of all headwater streams are impacted, in one fashion or another, by abandoned mine runoff. Sadly, mining is still conducted on public lands today and governed by the archaic 1872 Mining Act, which gives the mining industry priority status among public land users, requires mining interests to pay nothing in royalties on the commodities they pull from the ground, and doesn't do enough to require mining companies to clean up their messes, which are poisoning streams, driving big game away and impacting downstream water users. In October 2001, the Bush administration substantially weakened the BLM's ability to prevent significant environmental harm from mining operations. In a series of Solicitor and Secretarial decisions, Secretary Babbitt and Solicitor John Leshy under the Clinton administration had corrected long-standing BLM misinterpretations of the Mining Law, most notably regarding the limitations on the use of "millsite" claims (See M-36988, Nov. 7, 1997). On October 7, 2003, Interior Secretary Norton rescinded the Babbitt Memorandum, reinterpreting the Mining Law to allow the claiming of essentially unlimited lands for waste dumps and processing facilities as millsites (See 68 Fed. Reg. 61046, Oct. 24, 2003).

Additionally, the Interior Department interpreted other provisions of the Mining Law to strengthen the "rights" of mining claimants at the expense of public resources. On November 14, 2005 (M-37011), Secretary Norton rescinded the January 18, 2001 Decision that had recognized the BLM's responsibilities to inquire into the validity of mining claims prior to the approval of mining operations ("Ancillary Use Opinion", M-37004, Jan. 18, 2001). Secretary Norton issued her own decision stating that BLM and the Forest Service were not to inquire into claim validity when reviewing mining proposals on non-withdrawn lands across the West (M-37012, Nov. 14, 2005). Lastly, BLM has issued a proposed rule (72 Fed. Reg. 8139, Feb. 23, 2007), which attempts to circumvent the federal court order in Mineral Policy Center v. Norton (292 F.Supp.2d 30, D.D.C. 2003), which had required BLM to obtain "fair market value" for mining operations conducted on public lands for which the validity of mining claims had not been verified. The final rule has yet to be promulgated.

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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 11:21:50 am »

Part 3 of the above.

5. Certification of National Forests

Do not pursue certification of National Forest System lands or any portion of the system.
Rationale: We believe forest certification is ill-suited to our nation's federal forestlands. National forests (and similar lands managed by the BLM) belong to all Americans and are held in trust by the federal government for the benefit of the public. We believe these lands should be managed first to provide for those values and resources not adequately secured in the private market place and on the rest of the forest landscape. Clean and plentiful drinking water, habitat for wildlife and fish, and a haven for world-class recreation opportunities should take precedence over commodity extraction opportunities. Because of the scale of development these lands have experienced, with more than half already open to extractive industries, it is essential that conservation of their residual natural values be considered first priority. Forest certification, however, reverses this priority, limiting conservation values to what is commercially viable. Certification is a system that promotes conservation on private and state lands, which are already primarily dedicated to logging and whose managers have chosen to participate in certification. Applying certification to federal forests would undermine conservation efforts on those public forests where no such commercial imperative exists, to the detriment of efforts to give greater preference to biological diversity, ecological restoration, and recreation.






APPENDIX

Categorical Exclusions Issued Under the Bush Administration:

1. Post-Fire Rehabilitation Activities CE - Approved by the Forest Service (36 CFR 220.6(e)(11)) and BLM in June 2003, it permits post-fire rehabilitation activities on up to 4,200 acres.

2. Live Tree Harvest CE - Approved by the Forest Service in July 2004 (36 CFR 220.6(e)(12)), it permits up to 70 acres of logging and incidental live tree removal for landings, skid trails, roads, and up to one-half mile of temporary road construction and no clearcutting.

Status: This CE is being challenged in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the Camp Salvage Project litigation against the Lolo National Forest (The Ecology Center, Inc. and Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. U.S. Forest Service). The argument is scheduled for November 2008.

3. Salvage Logging CE - Approved by the Forest Service in July 2004 (36 CFR 220.6(e)(13)) and by the BLM in August 2007, it permits up to 250 acres of post-fire logging of dead or dying trees and incidental live tree removal for landings, skid trails, roads, and construction of up to one-half mile of temporary road.

Status: This CE is being challenged in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the Camp Salvage Project litigation against the Lolo National Forest (The Ecology Center, Inc. and Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. U.S. Forest Service). The argument is scheduled for November 2008.

4. Sanitation Harvest CE - Approved by the Forest Service in July 2004 (36 CFR 220.6(e)(14)), it permits up to 250 acres of commercial and non-commercial sanitation logging to control insects and disease and incidental live tree removal for landings, skid trails, roads, and construction of up to one-half mile of temporary road.

Status: This CE is being challenged in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the Camp Salvage Project litigation against the Lolo National Forest (The Ecology Center, Inc. and Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. U.S. Forest Service). Oral arguments are scheduled for November 2008.

5. Timber Stand and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Activities CE - Approved by the Forest Service in 1992 (36 CFR 220.6 (e)(6), it allows timber stand and/or wildlife habitat improvement activities (including girdling trees, thinning, brush control, prescribed burning), which do not include the use of herbicides or do not require more than one mile of low standard road construction.

Status: WildLaw has petitioned the Secretary of Agriculture under the Administrative Procedures Act to amend this CE and issue guidance on how this CE should be used. The petition is still pending.

6. Oil and Gas CEs - Two CEs were approved by the Forest Service in December 2005 (36 CFR 220.6(e)(Cool and 220.6(e)(17)) and BLM in August 2007, that allows oil and gas exploration in areas under federal leases. One allows short-term (1 year or less) mineral, energy, or geophysical investigations and activities that require cross-country travel (vehicles or equipment), construction of less than 1 mile of low standard road, or use and minor repair of existing roads. And another allows oil and natural gas exploration and initial development activities with specific requirements for roads, pipeline disturbance and drill sites.

7. Seismic Technology CE - Approved by the BLM in 2006, it allows seismic technology to search for oil, gas, or geothermal resources.



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[1] As defined by Committee of Scientists in 1999

[2] As defined by Committee of Scientists in 1999

[3] Public Land Statistics (2006): 1
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