Friends of the Clearwater staff was in Washington, D.C. last week to urge Congress to take action. We have asked Congress to support a law, repeal a law, and conduct some oversight of the Forest Service based on what we have seen recently on the Nez Perce – Clearwater National Forests. The below paragraphs are summaries of each “ask.” Click the link at the end of each paragraph to take action and learn more about protecting our national forests.

We asked members of Congress to preserve roadless areas by not codifying the Idaho and National Roadless Rule, and instead supporting the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act. The Idaho (2008) and National Roadless Rule (2001) are not protecting our roadless areas. Friends of the Clearwater has found that, since 2008 in Idaho and Montana, the Forest Service has self-reported it has authorized logging in preliminary amounts of approximately 40,000 – 55,000 acres in roadless areas. We found that the Forest Service has authorized logging by manipulating the purpose of the project so it would fit into an exception to cut trees permitted by the Idaho Roadless Rule (which only governs Idaho) or the National Roadless Rule (which governs Montana and most states). Take action and learn more here.

We have asked Congress to repeal the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA). Natural processes, including insects, disease, and wildfire, result in healthy forests because this is how forests renew themselves. Logging is not needed for forest health. HFRA passed in 2003, allowing the Forest Service to shorten public comment periods and limit ranges of alternatives otherwise required under National Environmental Policy Act in order to approve projects faster. In 2014 and 2018, Congress amended HFRA to add two types of categorical exclusions to allow projects up to 3,000 acres if the intended purpose was for forest “health” or wildfire. In 2017 – 2018, we observed the Forest Service utilize this law to propose or approve 32,692 acres of logging under HFRA on the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests, which means that the public’s ability to participate, shape, or oppose these projects were reduced under HFRA and its amendments. Take action and learn more here.

Finally, we are asking for oversight of the Forest Service, particularly with how it is administering the roadless rules and accounting for its hazardous fuels reduction projects under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA), which both result in logging our national forests. Congress needs to investigate why and how the Forest Service has managed to log so much under the National Roadless Rule and the Idaho Roadless Rule. Secondly, we think Congress should investigate the acreage that the Forest Service has “treated” under HFRA. Take action and learn more here.

Thank you for following up our visit to Washington, D.C. by taking action and telling members of Congress to protect our national forests from unabated logging!

Sincerely,

Brett Haverstick
Education & Outreach Director

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