New Forest Plan Rule Nukes NEPA

Perhaps the most important environmental decisions the Forest Service makes is the 15-year (on the average) forest plans for each of national forests. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has always been at the core of the forest plans. NFMA, the National Forest Management Act, requires the forest plans and their updating, but it’s NEPA that guarantees they have to truly consider the public’s opinion (including the opinion of the timber industry, and extractive groups). It is also NEPA that guarantees that their data is accurate, reality-based, so there won’t be made-up figures to satisfy some local or state politician.

Now the Forest Services has issued a final rule that lets the Service ignore NEPA when amending or writing new forest management plans.

This means the Forest Plans won’t have any scientific analysis to support them, and they won’t apply until and if future decisions are made. It makes the Forest Service blind and renders the Forest Plans meaningless.

Was it happening is the standards of politicized intelligence gathering and interpretation that led the United States into Iraq to get those “terrible WMDs” will now be applied to the pride of American public lands, the National Forests.

Brodie Farquhar has the news in New West.

I imagine these new regulations will be struck down in court, but it shows the spirit corruption so typical of the old Congress and the hatred of science so typical of the Bush Administration lives on in the Department of Agriculture of which the Forest Service is part.

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Related New Controls on Publishing Research Worry USGS Scientists. AP. International Herald Tribune. “The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy.”

So information about grizzly bears, elk, and climate change is going to be subject to censorship by political commissars, just like in any totalitarian country, although I have not heard of despots censoring information about wildife before.

Related too. The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science. Union of Concerned Scientists




  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    I hope people aren’t surprised by this news; after all, censorship is the key rule in totalitarian countries. Bush is starting his own version of Lysenkoism. Hail Stalin!

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I have been struck at how the Bush Republican Party’s attitude toward science mimics that of the old Communist regimes, where ideology trumped science much to the eventual detriment of those regime.

    Under Bush it is not pure ideology, but also an effort to serve economic interests who have no desire to see objective information made public.

    Everyone owes it to themselves to Google the “Lysenko Affair”

  3. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    We have known about the problems at USGS for awhile. Then Julie McDonald at FWS. Now USFS. Where does it end? Perhaps the new Congress will get into the act and those responsible “former political appointees.” What Congress does, Congress can undo.

  4. bobcaesar Avatar

    Frankly, I am now aware that the Forest Svc probably doesn’t even read letters the public send RE, such things as off road vehicles. The SOB’s have made up their tiny little minds well in advance and what the public thinks seems to make no difference. They are just not interested!

    The only thing we can hope for is the general level of intelligence of Forest Service employees will increase. But, don’t hold your breath….. Most of the time it is like talkin’ to a wall! Many of “them” couldn’t hold a job in the Pvt sector for a day…. Very discouraging!

  5. Lance Olsen Avatar
    Lance Olsen

    I’m glad to see that the science-suppressing impulses of Dubya’s presidency and the Soviet empire haven’t gone unnoticed. From my little perch, it seems that the overthrow of NEPA (and FOIA) are steps toward a secretive government, and it’s been hard to avoid noticing that intelligence agencies have been under administration pressures similar to the pressures being put on other federal agencies including NASA, USFS, USFWS and USGS. Together, these recent abominations serve as evidence of a secrecy-loving White House — and Congress.

    In the past year or so, Science Editor David Kennedy penned an editorial called The End of Enlightenment. And Paul Ehrlich refers to this new era as The Endarkenment.

    The breadth of this trend is fundamentally subversive.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan