New U.S. Forest Service Rule Could Accelerate Trail Deconstruction
PICKERINGTON, OH – September 14, 2013 – The U.S. Forest Service has adopted a new rule that will allow the agency to fast-track the destruction of motorized trails, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
On Sept. 12, the Forest Service published a final rule in the Federal Register that adds three new “categorical exclusions” to its national Environmental Policy Act regulations “for activities that restore lands negatively impacted by water control structures, natural- and human-caused events, and roads and trails.”
Categorical exclusions allow the agency to act without preparing a costly and time-consuming environmental assessment or environmental impact statement to determine the project’s impacts.
Among other things, the new rule allows the U.S. Forest Service to obliterate “unneeded and unauthorized roads and trails” without doing an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. The rule can’t be used for recognized National Forest System Roads and National Forest System Trails.
When using the categorical exclusion related to roads and trails, the rule says U.S. Forest Service officials “will conduct appropriate scoping and public involvement assuring that citizen views are taken into account in an appropriate manner given the context of the decisions being made.”
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