Environmental Analysis and Decision Making (EADM) – Regional Partner Roundtables This Month- Be There or ???

Jasper Mountain Case Study

People on this blog tend to have more interest than the average (Smokey?) bear in NEPA and NEPA improvements and challenges. This seems to be an opportunities for “partners” to participate in Regional (and there are also Forest roundtables). In case you have not been invited, I think you can call and invite yourself. It would be interesting to hear back from attendees and your impressions.

Here’s a handy description, thanks to the National Forest Foundation (page here):

The Forest Service is undertaking an Agency-wide effort to improve processes related to environmental analysis and decision making (EADM). The agency’s intent is to gain efficiencies and effectiveness in these processes while continuing to value diverse stakeholder perspectives.

Join us as we explore challenges and opportunities for improvement and innovation. We invite partners to identify issues and concerns they experience and share their creative ideas and concerns they have about this effort.

The Forest Service will host Regional Partner Roundtables in every region and the Washington Office by March 31, 2018. For more information on your Region’s specific roundtable, click the respective link to the right.

Roundtables Objective:

Collect diverse partner feedback to inform EADM processes on local, regional and national scales.

Purposes of EADM Partner Roundtables:

Share why changes are important for achieving the USDA Forest Service mission
Identify, discuss, and capture partner perceptions on barriers and solutions
Explore what roles partners can play moving forward
Support dialogue to strengthen relationships between partners and the USDA Forest Service
Explain how partner inputs will be incorporated from the Roundtable and from participation in the formal rulemaking process

Support Materials
The Why, What and How of the Regional Partner Roundtables

Forest Service EADM Website

As far as I can tell, there is a Sharepoint site to share information and case studies (like the Jasper Mountain case in the photo above), but that is only open to employees?

22 thoughts on “Environmental Analysis and Decision Making (EADM) – Regional Partner Roundtables This Month- Be There or ???”

  1. I was in Portland last week at the first EADM regional roundtable. Not invited, I crashed the party, which is open to anyone.

    Some demographics. About half the attendees worked for the Forest Service. Included were an associate deputy chief, regional forester, and a “cadre” of regional employees that included a district ranger, some NEPA planners, public affairs, and a fire person. A clear majority of the FS workers were women. Rounding out the civil servants was a potpourri of contractors, including National Forest Foundation staff who ran the meeting, predominately women, too. [Are women perceived as more collaborative?]

    Non-governmental included a timber association rep, TNC, Boise-Cascade, Backcountry Horsepeople, a Mt. Hood-area forest activist, The Wilderness Society, and ski area association. Members of formal collaborative groups were well represented. Altogether about 60 people over the two days, with some attending only one day or the other (I was there for the duration).

    To say the agenda was unfocused would be generous. The associate deputy chief said the FS spends too much money on NEPA planning that takes too long. He welcomed participant suggestions on how the FS could resolve this problem. In particular, how to persuade the FS’s technical specialists to cut-back on detailed analyses of agency projects. Does this require a “cultural shift,” he asked? The regional forester reiterated this point in his welcoming and rambling benediction.

    The requisite break-out tables were held, inviting participants to put forward their proposals for solving the NEPA planning problem. Most of the proposals appeared to make more, not less, work for the FS, e.g., developing new web-based spatial tools for displaying information to the public.

    The second day saw the FS show its hand — a new NEPA rule is being promulgated. To some (the TNC rep), this came as a rude shock. The FS wrote a comprehensive NEPA rule in 2008. “What’s broken with the current rule?” was asked, with no answer from the FS. “What’s going to be changed?” also garnered no response.

    I had a nice time chatting with people during side conversations about sexual harassment, wilderness “safety” closures, Navy electronic warfare training on national forests, and other topics not on the agenda.

    • “Takes too long and costs too much” that reminds me of my old boss, Fred Norbury, who used to say (during Process Predicament) “How can we say it takes too long and costs too much if we don’t know how long it takes nor how much it costs?” There were some efforts to find that out at the time.

    • I am surprised that there was surprise that the Forest Service is working on new NEPA regulations. That was discussed here on this blog and there was a notice in the Federal Register. That was all happening out of the WO, so I guess the word didn’t get out too well around the region. We’ll see what happens with CEs this time. Seems like every time we propose new CEs, we end up losing them fairly quickly because they don’t hold up in court. I can’t recall all of the reasons for those losses, but I am wondering what they plan to do differently this time to avoid that.
      It was recently announced that the Forest Service is going to use contractors for all EISs and that Regional Foresters would have to approve any exceptions to that. I haven’t heard what the rationale is for this, but I can certainly come up with some plausible reasons to do it.

  2. Before I retired, I attended a partners’ meeting and talked about NEPA…the partners there said that sometimes the FS didn’t actually carry through the way they talked about on projects, and sometimes they were excluded because “you all can’t be involved at this part of the process.” I hope that the reason that you didn’t hear those is because they fixed those problems.

    PS I personally have found some of the info on this difficult to round up. I was aware of the ANPR but can’t say where I found it.

    Having not been involved, I would think that the point is to improve things in the eyes of many beholders. Certainly NEPA people have their own ideas but others do too. The Wilderness Society and the oil and gas industry and ski industry all have different ideas. Plus many outsiders don’t know what is in the “NEPA” realm to the FS, versus other regulations versus other kinds of planning versus manual and handbook.

    Some may have technical solutions, but others may require rulemaking. I agree that the FS shouldn’t put theirs now on the table because it’s a larger effort to gather everyone’s. I also think that there isn’t yet a “FS idea” of what needs to be changed. Just imagine when Jon Haber and I were both working (in planning) and multiply that by x thousand employees. I was fortunate to work in DC in NEPA during Process Predicament so I have some idea of improvements etc. conceived of then.

    I think these Roundtables would be the time to give input like “Could the PALS database or part of it be available to the public?” When we started it, that was our long-term idea. I think of this effort to gather ideas more broadly. Anyway, anyone with ideas is free to post them on this thread.

    • I think that such stakeholders should be educated about NEPA before they come to these things. We’ve seen that people are ridiculously ignorant of NEPA process and environmental laws currently in force. I’ve seen stories about how the Feds are going to do this of do that, from USFS critics, and such stories do not have much actual truth to them. (Example: Loggers will have free reign in the Giant Sequoia National Monument)

        • Another example of how people are so ignorant, and being lied to by eco-groups begging for donations.

          “How is this even legal this land belongs to the people and not owned by trump for sale”

          America is not educated enough to put much weight on their ‘widely-held public beliefs’ and the lies that lead to them.

          • Again, Larry, you forgot your signature *Smirk*….

            Anyway, I’ll bite.

            So, you claim “Another example of how people are so ignorant, and being lied to by eco-groups begging for donations.”

            Ok, then you post this:

            “How is this even legal this land belongs to the people and not owned by trump for sale”

            Ok, so who made the quote “how is this even legal…?” Was it an enviro group? What issue is specifically being discussed? Thanks.

            • The quote was one comment to an eco-group’s Facebook posting, utilizing a picture of a desert landscape, with a (poorly) photoshopped “For Sale” sign featured. Yes, of course, their followers are thinking that Federal lands will be sold off. The commenter thought that Trump would be selling Federal lands. Of course, no one is correcting her. Eco-groups are more than happy to have their followers believing in “fake news”. Yep, both sides see no harm in using such tactics.

              • Hi Larry, You do realize that the GOP had a bill in Congress that would, in fact, sell off and transfer federal public lands, right? And that one of the very first things the GOP did in the 115th Congress was pass a rule making it easier to possibly sell off and/or transfer federal public lands? And also that the GOP Party Platform calls for doing the thing? And that states like Utah are trying to take over federal public lands? I believe the state of Utah just filed a lawsuit about that.

                Can you please share the link to the FB post so I can check it out? I will personally make a comment to correct anything there that’s in error. Have you also had some time to check out comments made on by members of the public on, say, other social media sites, like the NRA’s or Safari Club International?

                • Lots of crazy things are proposed in the House, knowing that they would never pass. Remember when it was proposed to do salvage logging in Yosemite National Park, exempt from NEPA rules? How far did that one go? (It was never voted on).

                  Those Facebook ads come and go. They almost seem like….. Russian bots *smirk*
                  Spreading fake news while begging for cash, from gullible ‘believers’. For what it is worth, it is the Wilderness Society placing the sponsored ads.

    • Not necessarily. There are many ways to reduce costs without giving the public less info or participation opportunities.

      • I’d wager against the FS doing that (if there were a reliable way of measuring before and after). Categorical exclusions have been a popular way of cutting the public out of the process lately.

        • Personally, I’d like to see CE’s become standard for thinning, salvage and roadside hazard tree projects, as long as ‘protections’ are built-in, generally-speaking. For example, in fire and insect salvage, snag requirements would be guaranteed. In thinning, ‘owl circles’ would still retain their ESA status. Is there really a need for intense public participation for such mundane projects? Under the properly-crafted CE, such issues would already be addressed.

        • Hmm.. do they cut “the public” out of the process? I tried to get a list of CE projects and examine their public involvement processes. Of the two I posted under the tab above, both had public comment and it appears that one was litigated. I think it’s more profitable to the discussion to look at specific cases, and see what specific public comment opportunities are missing or different, than to make broad claims.

          • There is some public comment required for CEs, but normally not as much as for an EA. There also may not be an appeal/objection process prior to litigation. But we can keep an eye on future examples.

            A properly developed CE would be based on science and a track record that demonstrates that there would never be significant effects, and the CE itself would go through a comment process. If they do that, then I guess I wouldn’t complain.

  3. It is interesting that I have never heard anyone comment about a Forest Service meeting that there were more men than women. Andy, time to move into the modern era. Having more women than men should be about as relevant as the opposite… unless it was all of either and a large enough sample size to matter.

    • Really . FWIW, I still notice gender ratios at FS meetings, natural resource meetings, political meetings (as in who is pounding the pavement vs. who is running for Congress) and so on. People often write articles about the ratio of gender, racial or ethnic groups in different places (like corporate boards) or even elected officials, or even entertainment awards..

      • I still do the same thing as well. Lately, I have noticed that since the FS switched from “planners” to “environmental coordinators” that most of the latter tend to be women, and most of the former tended to be men. The “planners” had tasks that were a lot more analytical in nature – calculating timber harvest volumes, analyzing where the next planning areas should be, monitoring forest plan outputs and comparing them to the forest plan. The latter are more process minders. They are charged more with knowing the processes associated with NEPA – notifications, federal register notices, comment periods, appeal regulations, tracking where NEPA projects are in the NEPA process, etc. Makes me wonder who is keeping track of plan implementation any more – with the larger planning areas now, some forests are cycling through all of their planning areas in 10 years or less. Most of it is some type of thinning or “restoration” treatment. I’m wondering if there will be a meaningful amount of commercial wood to remove when they return in 10 years vs. what is being removed right now to keep the rural economies/lumber mills afloat.

        • At the risk of gender stereotyping, there is something kind of touchy-feely about collaboration The law profession folks talk about this…

          “Yet it is true that women are often diverted, or divert themselves, into areas of the law that are more magisterial than confrontational — they are more likely to be judges and corporation counsels than criminal defense attorneys, the gladiators of the profession.

          Studies show that in small groups, women tend to be more collaborative and less hierarchical than men, said Alice Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University. Female doctors, she said, have been found to be more relational and supportive than males.

          ”I think women make great judges and lousy lawyers, because they are sensitive, patient and incorruptible,” said Raoul Felder, the celebrity divorce lawyer.

          Mr. Felder objects to what he calls ”feminized” law, a more nuanced view of winning and losing: ”Would you want a world where there’s no wrong and right, where truth doesn’t triumph over lies, where justice merges with inequity? That’s the promise of psychiatry, another feminized profession.””


          This reminds me of a post I wrote in 2010:

          “Yesterday morning we visited the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to listen to the appeal of Judge Brimmer’s decision on the 2001 Rule.

          “There were three judges presiding, Anderson, Murphy and Holmes. Since this is Women’s History Month, I have to point out that all the lead counsels, and all the judges were male. The ratio of female to male judges in the Tenth Circuit is 3/20 or 15% based on their website, so the latter is not surprising.”



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