We’ve talked about condition-based NEPA before in several posts. At the time I worked on a CBN project (2010-ish, Obama Administration), it was considered a way to deal with the need for management at the landscape scale. You’ll remember that “increasing the pace and scale” “landscape scale” and some version of “all lands, all hands” has been the view of several Administrations, and I don’t think is all that controversial. The idea goes something like this.. with climate change and past fire suppression (Ds) or past fire suppression and lack of timber management (Rs), there is a need to reintroduce prescribed fire and to protect watersheds, communities and species from uncontrolled wildfires (exacerbated by climate change.)
If I recall correctly, condition-based NEPA is in the current Forest Service NEPA regulations. But naturally, there are disagreements about specific NEPA approaches and specific projects.
We discussed the LAVA project on the Medicine Bow National Forest as an example of condition-based NEPA. Their argument, as with the Black Hills bug project, was that the changes in conditions due to bugs required flexibility. I wrote two posts on the WaPo story on the project (usually the WaPo is not too interested in Wyoming) here and here. It attracted much attention by some environmental groups.
I also delved through the documents to find their approach to site-specific public involvement, since some had expressed concerns about how/whether that would happen.
Last summer, there were major fires in that country, so what happened with the project? Fortunately, they have a handy webpage that summarizes the current status.
February 1, 2021 – During the fall of 2020 the Mullen Fire impacted the Medicine Bow National Forest, burning portions of six of the 14 accounting units that make up the LaVA project area. LaVA implementation is on hold in the six affected accounting units while Forest staff develop a supplemental information report assessing post-fire conditions in these areas. Additional information about the supplemental information report will be shared as it becomes available. LaVA implementation may proceed in accounting units that were not affected by the Mullen Fire in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and the Northern Snowy Mountain Range (click here for details). Additional LaVA checklists for treatments in the unaffected accounting units will be released over the next few months. The LaVA StoryMap is being updated to reflect changes in the implementation schedule due to the Mullen Fire. Launch of the updated StoryMap is planned for early spring of 2021.
The LaVA StoryMap is an interactive GIS map where users can:
Learn more about the LaVA decision.
Utilize interactive maps of the Sierra Madre and Snowy Ranges in combination with LaVA project analysis data.
View past/current/future treatment locations and information.
Provide feedback on future treatments and focus areas.
Learn about cooperating agencies.
I thought the story map was pretty cool and I posted an image from it above. I particularly like how they’ve made it easy for people without GIS skills to look at the overlays.
So far, there has been no litigation and implementation of the project is ongoing. I wonder why, or what changed such that organizations which were against the project have apparently chosen not to litigate.