Forest Service Changes
Wildfire is one of the biggest issues that ranchers face in the West.
With wildfires and logging in mind, Federal officials are proposing major shifts to the way land management decisions are made to expand the types and scope of work that can be completed without an environmental review.
The agency the reviews are time consuming would make the agency more nimble when mitigating threats such as catastrophic wildfires.
The Forest Service said changes are necessary as its resources are depleted by fighting major western wildfires. "Wildland fire management" took up 57% of the agency's budget in 2018, and the number of "non-fire personnel" has been cut by 39% between 1995 and 2018, the agency said.
The American Forest and Paper Association, a timber industry association whose members manufacture paper and other wood-related products, believes the proposal will make the Forest Service more efficient.
"This approach provides the department with the tools it needs to support forest health and help reduce materials that fuel catastrophic wildfires," said policy manager Jeff Bradley.
The Forest Service said changes are necessary as its resources are depleted by fighting major western wildfires.
Environmental groups, however, say the rules will box the public out of important decisions that can be improved with community input.