Recent rule changes to the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) by the Bush administration have tossed out provisions that protect wildlife, allow scientific review, and provide opportunities for public input.

The changes are the latest attempt by the current administration to throw open public lands belonging to all Americans for the private profit of a few.

These rule changes, unfortunately, are already in place. They became final on Jan. 5, 2005.
One rule change the administration would like to push through is still open to public comment, however: the proposed rule that would exempt forest management plans from environmental review and public comment under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The new rule would claim "categorical exclusions" for entire forest plans because, according to the Forest Service, such plans "do not affect the human environment." These plans determine what areas of a national forest will be devoted to logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, road building, grazing and motorized recreation.

The new rule maintains that environmental analysis can be done at the project level rather than in forest plans- but logging projects can be exempted from NEPA under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, for one example. For many logging projects, it is likely that environmental review and public input will be entirely eliminated.

There is still a chance to comment on this destructive proposal. PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE DUE BY MARCH 7, 2005.


Please take the time to make your feelings known on this latest damaging rule change. Tell the Forest Service not to adopt the proposed rule exempting forest management plans from the provisions of NEPA.

Send your comments to:

USDA Content Analysis Team
Attention: Planning CE
P.O. Box 22777
Salt Lake City, UT 84122
Fax: 801/517-1015


(please feel free to rewrite in your own words)

Dear USDA Content Analysis Team:

I strongly oppose the proposed rule change published on Jan. 5, 2005 that would exempt forest management plans, revisions or amendments from environmental review and meaningful public input under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The proposed rule would:

o Hide from the public adequate information to evaluate the environmental consequences of forest plans;

o Disregard the best available science in favor of extractive and commercial uses;

o Make it easier for timber, oil, gas, mining and motorized recreation companies to profit from the use of public forests while eliminating the need for forest managers to assess potentially harmful impacts on water, wildlife, recreational use, old growth and roadless areas;

o Worsen conditions for wildlife. Without environmental analysis of a forest plan or changes to a plan, the impacts to wildlife will not be understood. The new regulations have already abolished the requirements to maintain viable populations of species and to monitor those populations. Adopting this new proposal effectively removes all enforceable requirements to analyze and monitor wildlife health, both at the forest plan and the project level;

o Call for environmental analysis to be done only at the project level. The Bush administration has already exempted many types of logging projects from environmental review under NEPA, mostly through the misleadingly named "Healthy Forests Initiative." These exemptions will eliminate environmental review and opportunity for public comment. Additionally, the proposed rule would eliminate the study or disclosure of the cumulative impact of management activities across the national forest, something usually done at the planning stage.

Visit the American Lands Alliance website for detailed analysis of the NFMA rule changes by WildLaw and The Wilderness Society:

Another website with good information about NFMA and the proposed rule change is the National Forest Protection Alliance site at:


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places