On March 14, representatives from sportsmen’s organizations and other forest conservation groups participated in the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) Environmental Assessment and Decision-Making (EADM) National Partner Roundtable in Washington, D.C. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Central Appalachian States Manager John Culclasure attended the Roundtable.
The EAMD National Partner Roundtable was part of an USFS agency-wide initiative to improve its EADM processes in order to increase the productivity and resilience of national forests and grasslands. Regional Partner Roundtables are being held across the country throughout March as the USFS collects feedback from interested parties to evaluate how the agency can increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of its environmental analysis processes.
The USFS National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is more laborious than other federal agencies with USFS environmental assessments as well as environment impact statements routinely exceeding Council on Environmental Quality guidance on page limitations. The USFS spends more than $1 million a day conducting environmental analyses. With over 80 million acres of USFS land in need of restoration, CSF submitted comments on February 2 supporting the agency’s effort to increase the efficiency of its processes, which would allow USFS to carry out more projects to increase forest resiliency, improve habitat for wildlife, and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires.
USFS interim Chief Victoria Christiansen addressed the group and reinforced the agency’s commitment to improving EADM processes. In addition to examining agency policy and procedures related to NEPA implementation, the EADM effort includes enhancement of NEPA training for agency staff, development of staff performance measures for increased accountability, encouraging innovation and more effective integration with public engagement, improving the use of technology to increase efficiency, and the development of National Task Forces to review and recommend process improvements for consultations required under the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
CSF will continue to be engaged in the process with partner organizations as it unfolds this year.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?