Forest plan process hijacked
The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 is funding the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative and the Clearwater Basin Collaborative. Shamefully, the overwhelming majority of the American public is not involved in this collaborative process. Instead, government officials, local industry representatives and questionable conservation groups carve out a so-called working solution.
And thanks to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Sen. Mike Crapo, the proposed National Forest Planning Rules could force the National Environmental Policy Act to take a back seat to collaboration and the spirit of cooperation. NEPA will be a pro-forma exercise.
To make things worse, the administrative appeals process has been eliminated. A recent budget rider stripped the public’s ability to challenge the record of decision by the agency.
And yet, the Idaho Collaboration League and the Wilderness Solution have requested that we avoid the conflict approach when commenting on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forest Plans.
Fortunately, by submitting public comments on agency projects, you can still litigate what you deem to be an illegal project. So let the litigation begin; that is, unless the Forest Service chooses to follow the law.