Landscape NEPA Comment in Wise Blog on Tester’s and Wyden’s Bills

Thanks to John for finding this blog..

Can’t really link to the comment directly but Tim B. comments here on the WISE blog

Just my opinion, but as a field-based NEPA practitioner with 29 years of experience, I would say that anybody seriously considering an environmental analysis covering all the various types of restoration activities that might need to happen on a landscape 50,000 acres or larger has their head very far up their ***.

Much too wide a scope; a broad purpose and need statement will generate large numbers of proposed actions, which will generate a huge number of environmental issues to address. All this would create a number of likely very complicated alternatives, and it would be difficult to determine what an adequate range of alternatives might be.

From an appeals and litigation standpoint, if a large number of activities are included in a landscape level NEPA analysis and decision, said decision and everything in it would all be vulnerable to challenge by any crank who did not like just one of the proposed actions. Given the size and complexity of such an analysis, that person could likely convince a Regional Appeals Reviewing Officer or a judge that an inadequate range of alternatives was addressed or some pet issue was missed. And the document would be so cumbersome a judge could be likely to throw the whole thing out because he couldn’t understand it – and he’d be right.

It would be much better to do a programmatic overview of such a watershed, like a watershed analysis to develop the rationale for implementation of whatever restorations actions, then do a set of some nice, neat, narrowly focused and short environmental assessments that would be much more bullet proof appeal and litigation wise.

Our congresspersons could help us out a lot if they would quit writing these complicated, prescriptive (why employ foresters and all other manner of specialists if some dudes in D.C. are deciding what can and can’t happen?) Region-specific bills and work on simplifying and clarifying the ones on the books that have been problematic for years. I also find it interesting that as far as I know, these guys never talk with/to the folks on the ground that really know what may and may not work.

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