In an agency beset with feelings of process predicament and analysis paralysis, it would be cruel punishment indeed to suggest NFMA rules that add more analysis and process to the mix. The new rules should also be durable; that is, not chase after every cause de jour (e.g., climate change) or impose inflexible, one-size-fits-all analysis processes.
The following “Assessment of New Information and Changed Circumstances” is based on the fact that forest plans exist now that cover every acre of the National Forest System. Congress directed that these plans “be revised from time to time” when “conditions in a unit have significantly changed, but at least every fifteen years.” It makes sense that only those parts of a forest plan affected by changed conditions require revision.
It is with these principles in mind that I put forward Part 3 of the keep-it-simple-sweet NFMA rules:
36 CFR 219.3: Assessment of New Information and Changed Circumstances
The revision shall assess new information and changed circumstances and conditions in the unit that are relevant to the decisions made in the land management plan. If the new information or changed circumstances and conditions warrant amendments to the land management plan, the land management plan amendments shall be assessed as a part of the vegetation management and timber harvest program’s NEPA document. If the land management plan amendments, singly or in combination with the vegetation management and timber harvest program, require an environmental impact statement pursuant to Section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., an environmental impact statement shall be prepared.