Forest Service EADM – Workshop Introductory Powerpoint

One of my favorite professors at Iliff is a historian named Eric Smith. When we approach the past, he said, “we should neither be naive nor cynical.” This is a message, in my view, that applies to many things in life. With regard to EADM, you could think (the Cynical Partisan View) that this is a plot by the evil Trump Administration and Western Congressional R’s to destroy ESA, leave the public out, and lay waste to western landscapes in the name of money-grubbing corporate elites. Or you might think, (the Cynical NEPA Person View) this is the same old stuff, it comes up every decade or so, since the FS talked about Process Predicament and nothing much changed, what’s the point? But I think that there are many good ideas out there, and that this is an opportunity for us to explore them and see if there are any that we can agree on. It’s a chance to move past being stuck in the partisan swamp, and actually getting to higher ground and a better place.

Absolutely, the FS may not use our ideas. I am not naive. But I am not sure that they won’t, either, so I am not cynical. And who knows, ideas take on their own kind of life and may be adopted by Congress or other groups. And I think us discussing them outside the partisan vitriolic context has its own value to show internet world that more meaningful and less mean-spirited dialogue can take place on these platforms.

The FS says that the next opportunity to give input will be when the Draft Rule comes out in June or thereabouts. Part of the conversation is (1) what is working? (2) what is not working? (3) why do we think so? (4) what might work better? and (5) what would have to change to make that happen?

Here is the powerpoint presentation given by Glenn Casamassa. Note that Glenn’s history involved him being himself a NEPA expert, plus he is a veteran of previous NEPA improvement efforts.

Please feel free to comment on anything in the Powerpoint. I don’t know any more than the rest of you all about the process, but if we have questions we can try to find the answers. I think the NFF was supposed to generate a report based on the workshops. It would be great if that were made available and we could post and discuss. I could FOIA it but why harass FOIA people unnecessarily? Really- public comments, including syntheses thereof, should be made public IMHO.

6 thoughts on “Forest Service EADM – Workshop Introductory Powerpoint”

  1. Thanks Nick! I couldn’t find a few of the Regional Reports but most are there and we can get started discussing them…

  2. The most revealing graph here is actually the workforce numbers. You can’t expect the same amount and quality of NEPA review with 40% fewer land management employees than we had in 1998. That’s just the bottom line. If the idea is to improve processes and hire more staff so backlogs are decreased, that’s great. If the idea is to “streamline” by increasing workloads and jamming poorer documents through faster with the same (or less?!) staff (as all of Trump’s budgets have proposed major hits to NFS funding) then we shouldn’t be shocked when all these new “streamlined” NEPA products get tied up in more judicial knots.

    • That makes sense about the numbers of folks. I wonder if the reduction is related to fire and with the funding fix maybe there will be more $ for people or contracted NEPA.

      So far, Trump’s budgets seem to be yielding to Congress’s urge to fund things.

      One of the topics for streamlining are recreation and outfitter guides.. I wonder if they will get tied up in judicial knots or not if they are not controversial. I honestly don’t have any idea.

    • Since you mentioned the workforce graph, I will point out I found the graphic choice deceptive. By using images scaled both vertically and horizontally, the images visually exaggerate the magnitude of the shift. The non-fire workforce trend is certainly disturbing, but the chart is somewhat misleading.

  3. Count me as cynical. My overall perception of the Forest Service NEPA program was that they stressed the rules on what you had to do rather than work for understanding of why you were doing it (NEPA is mostly just common sense). I suspected that was because they didn’t want the practitioners using their own judgment of what was needed in a particular situation (though I couldn’t tell whether that was due to fear of legal risk or just desire for management control). Operationally, there is a fundamental conflict between deadlines and quality work, and “streamlining” will fail if it doesn’t recognize this.

    The graph showing increasing average times for both RODs and DNs could be the result of shifting simpler EISs to EAs (raising the average time for both). That could be considered a good thing.


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