USFS to limit public comment due to changes in the NEPA

“Under President Donald Trump, federal agencies have chipped away at the reviews and permitting required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. Earlier this month, the Forest Service proposed a significant overhaul of the NEPA process for logging and development on millions of acres of federal forest and grassland across the West. 

In a statement, the Forest Service said NEPA environmental reviews are time-consuming, redundant and prevent active maintenance of healthy forests. The agency called it the first serious change to NEPA’s regulation of forest management in more than 10 years. 

The public has 60 days to weigh in on these significant changes. The proposed NEPA revisions comment period closes Aug. 12. Here are some key takeaways:

The proposed changes would reduce environmental review for logging and infrastructure.

The Forest Service wants to expand the number of projects that would qualify for “categorical exclusions” — projects that can bypass environmental analysis or environmental impact statements. The exclusions would apply to forest thinning, various types of road and trail building, brush removal and recreational site management. More controversially, forest projects of up to 7,300 acres (with logging on up to more than half of those acres) could be excluded from NEPA review. Mineral and energy exploration — such as using seismic testing to gather geological data and various small-scale infrastructure building — could also be exempt if it lasts less than one year.”

For the rest of this article see: https://www.hcn.org/articles/u-s-forest-service-might-limit-public-comments

Forest Fire Lookout Project – Chew’s Ridge, 6/6/19

CHEWS RIDGE LOOKOUT

Project Description

The Monterey Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest, in partnership with the Forest Fire Lookout Association, will be exploring the possibility of activating the Chews Ridge Lookout and staffing it with local volunteers in order to provide firefighters with early fire detection, as well as other assistance to the National Forest.  In many circumstances, catching a fire when it is still young can prevent it from becoming large and destructive.  This project gives volunteers the opportunity to help improve fire safety in Monterey County rural areas, the Ventana Wilderness, and the Los Padres National Forest.

To read about this project in detail, see: https://firelookouthost.org/chews-ridge-project/

USFS Invasive Species Removal

Public comments sought on draft Environmental

Analysis for Invasive Plant Treatment Program

GOLETA, Calif. – Los Padres National Forest officials today announced the release of a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed Forest-wide Invasive Plant Treatment Program. Interested members of the public are encouraged to submit written comments on the draft EA by June 27.

CORRECTION – Los Padres National Forest News Release – We regret the mistake of providing the wrong due date for public written comments – correct date is June 19, 2019

The draft EA evaluates the environmental impacts of implementing a program to control non-native and invasive plants using a combination of mechanical, manual, livestock and chemical treatment methods. With limited capacity to control or eradicate these non-native populations, the Invasive Plant Treatment Program provides necessary tools for improving and restoring native ecosystems and habitat.

Exotic invasive species create a host of environmental effects, including displacement of native plants, loss of habitat and forage, potential loss of soil productivity and reduction in water quantity, as well as a potential increase in the intensity and frequency of wildfires. The program would provide for the aggressive treatment of existing infestations of invasive plants, and would encourage rapid containment or eradication of new infestations before they can become established.

The program is designed with resource protection measures to reduce or eliminate potential impacts to natural resources and the human environment. Following these treatments, restoration actions may be needed to stabilize the area and prevent re-colonization of invasive plants. More information on the Invasive Plant Treatment Program is available on the Los Padres National Forest website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=51845.

Written comments may be mailed to the Los Padres National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Attention: Kyle Kinports, 6750 Navigator Way, Suite 150, Goleta, CA 93117; or hand delivered to the Supervisor’s Office at the address shown above during business hours (M-F 8:00 am to 4:30 pm); or submitted by FAX to 805-961-5729. Electronic comments may be submitted to comments-pacificsouthwest-los-padres@fs.fed.us.

Msg from Rep Panetta re: Oil Drilling on Public Lands on the Central Coast

 

Dear Neighbor,

The administration just announced a proposal to open over 700,000 acres of public land on the central coast of California to new oil and gas drilling. Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Fresno counties are included in the proposal.

Our community is concerned about expanded oil and gas exploitation on the Central Coast. You can share your opinion of the proposal directly with the Administration during the next 27 days, through June 9, 2019.

Click here to share your public comment here.

Tips for submitting effective comments can be found here.

In Congress, I have cosponsored bills that would prohibit oil and gas exploration and leasing on our public lands and off of our coast. I will continue to fight to protect our public land, ocean, and coastlines so that our communities, country, and future generations can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Central Coast.

I encourage everyone to speak out and participate in this public comment period.

Sincerely,

JIMMY PANETTA
Member of Congress

 

This is an official correspondence from Congressman Jimmy Panetta. If you have any questions please contact my office.
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USFS approves expedited commercial logging project in Condor habitat, 4/29/19

Forest Service Approves Expedited Commercial Logging Project in Condor Habitat

Trees of all sizes will be on the chopping block as part of the project.

Goleta, Calif. – Yesterday, the Forest Service announced its approval of the second of two commercial logging projects in the Los Padres National Forest. The approval of the 1,600-acre project along Tecuya Ridge comes just five months after the agency authorized an adjacent 1,200-acre project allowing commercial logging in Cuddy Valley at the base of Mt. Pinos.

The agency fast-tracked both projects without preparing a standard environmental assessment or environmental impact statement, instead declaring that the projects were excluded from environmental review under a loophole in the National Environmental Policy Act. A full environmental review examines potential impacts to plants and wildlife as well as alternatives to the proposed activities. The normal review process also provides more transparency and opportunities for the public to weigh in with concerns about the project.

The logging area provides prime habitat for endangered California condors. According to condor tracking data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly fifty condor roost sites occur within a half-mile of where trees will be cut and removed. These roost sites are typically large dead or live trees that are used by condors for resting overnight between long flights. Federal standards require a minimum half-mile buffer from condor roosting sites to protect them from disturbance, given their sensitivity and importance in condor survival.

Community Fuel Break work to begin next year.

Los Padres signs Big Sur Community Fuelbreak Record of Decision

 GOLETA, Calif.— Los Padres National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott signed a Record of Decision on Nov. 13 for the Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement project Environmental Impact Statement. The project is on the Monterey Ranger District near the communities of Big Sur, Palo Colorado, Cachagua, and Jamesburg.

The purpose of the Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement project is to re-establish and maintain a series of fuelbreaks to enhance protection for at-risk communities and firefighting resources, preserve wilderness character, and reduce suppression costs. These historically-used and effective strategic fuelbreaks extend in and out of the Ventana Wilderness.

This project is a result of collaborative engagement at the community level and will improve effectiveness and efficiency in protecting communities from wildfire. The project will also minimize future impacts to wilderness. Wilderness character is diminished when fuelbreaks are re-opened by bulldozers during emergency suppression of wildfires. By proactively designing and establishing strategic fuelbreaks during a non-emergency environment, the Forest Service can reduce the reliance on mechanized equipment and subsequently reduce the adverse fire suppression impacts on the wilderness landscape.

A notice of intent to prepare an EIS was published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2012. Public scoping and an “analysis of comments” was completed. A Draft EIS was then prepared and scoped for public comment in January 2017 and two public open houses were held in February 2017.

Work on this project will begin next year.

For more information, please contact District Ranger Tim Short at (831) 385-5434 or attshort@fs.fed.us or visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=40713.

Excellent Work for all the people who helped, contributed, and collaborated on this.