Trump administration seeks to streamline environmental review of prescribed fire and logging projects

The U. S. Forest Service is planning to streamline the environmental reviews of certain prescribed fire and forest management projects, including logging.

Below is an excerpt from a June 12 article at

Federal land managers on Wednesday proposed sweeping rule changes to a landmark environmental law that would allow them to fast-track certain forest management projects, including logging and prescribed burning.

The U.S. Forest Service, under Chief Vicki Christiansen, is proposing revisions to its National Environmental Policy Act regulations that could limit environmental review and public input on projects ranging from forest health and wildfire mitigation to infrastructure upgrades to commercial logging on federal land.

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen budget FY2020
Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen testified about the White House’s proposed budget for FY2020 on May 15, 2019.

“We do more analysis than we need, we take more time than we need and we slow down important work to protect communities,” Christiansen told NPR.

The proposed rule changes include an expansion of “categorical exclusions.” These are often billed as tools that give land managers the discretion to bypass full-blown environmental studies in places where they can demonstrate there would be no severe impacts or degradation to the land.

John Gale, with the conservation group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, says that if applied carefully and narrowly to certain projects, these exclusions could help lower the fire risk. But he’s skeptical because the administration recently rolled back protections for clean water and wildlife

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Trump administration seeks to streamline environmental review of prescribed fire and logging projects”

  1. NEPA is a good law, with logical implementing regulations. “Streamlining” is almost always about logging, other things the enviros dont like. I believe the administration is barking up the wrong tree on this one. Pay planners a decent wage, hire people who can perform and have incentives to do so, hire competent Office of General Counsel staff, you would get much less need to streamline (gut) environmental laws.

    1. Thank you Rich, agree. My concern is since this Administration has been in office, there have been 85 EPA rollbacks. As John Gale said, if, and I will emphasize, only if applied and carefully to some, projects. I will say, I’m skeptical about this proposed new rollout.

    1. The issue is not competent employees. The issues are agency rules which require to perform the entire NEPA process on almost every repetitive project across the landscape. If an EA is completed once why should it have to be repeated for the same project a half mile away.


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