Environmental Policy Specifically Eis Statement essay

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" (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

The draft environmental impact statement elicited over 1.1 million responses which the Forest Service identified and summarized into six major issue categories including:

1) Public access;

2) Identification of other unroaded areas;

3) Exemptions and exceptions

4) Environmental effects;

5) Local involvement; and 6) the effect on communities with strong natural resource affiliations. (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

These issues served to guide the process through:

1) Determining the scope of the proposal;

2) Development of a range of alternatives;

3) Direction of the analysis of potential environmental, social and economic effects;

3) Identification of possible mitigation and 4) Ensuring that the agency is operating within legal authorities. (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Two sets of alternatives were developed:

Four alternatives, including a No Action Alterative that cover the range of possible prohibited activities in inventories roadless areas consistent with the stated purpose and need; and Four alternative ways to apply toe prohibitions to the Tongass National Forest. (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Also stated to have been developed were a third set of alternatives, which are procedural alternatives. The 'Prohibition Alternatives' provide a description of the activities that are not allowed in the 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless forest areas and are stated to be those as follows:

Alternative 1 - No Action; No prohibitions: No rule prohibiting activities in inventoried roadless areas would be issued. Road construction and reconstruction would continue to be restricted only where land management plan prescriptions prohibit such activity (approximately 24.2 million acres). Future proposals for road construction and reconstruction would be considered on a case-by-case basis at the project level using public comment and under NEPA requirements. There would be no restrictions on timber harvest imposed by this alternative. This alternative also establishes a benchmark against which the effects of the other alternatives are compared." (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Alternative 2 - Prohibit Road Construction and Reconstruction within Inventoried Roadless Areas: Road construction and reconstruction activities, including temporary road construction, would be prohibited in inventoried roadless areas. Road reconstruction activities are those that result in realignment or improvement of an existing road. These prohibitions would become effective upon implementation of the final rule. There would be no restrictions on timber harvest imposed by this alternative." (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Alternative 3 - Prohibit Road Construction, Reconstruction and Timber Harvest Except for Stewardship Purposes within Inventoried Roadless Areas: Road construction and reconstruction activities, including temporary road construction, would be prohibited in inventoried roadless areas. Timber harvest would be prohibited except for stewardship purposes. Stewardship purpose timber harvest can only be used where it maintains or improves roadless characteristics and: (1) Improves threatened, endangered, proposed or sensitive species habitat; (2) Reduces the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire effects; or (3)Restores ecological structure, function, processes, and composition. Under this alterative allowed would be "personal-use harvest including firewood" and cutting of Christmas trees. It is stated additionally, that "tree cutting may occur incidental to other management activities such as trail construction or maintenance, removal of hazard trees adjacent to classified roads for public health and safety reasons, fire line construction for wildland fire suppression nor control of the prescribed fire, or for survey and maintenance of property boundaries. Mechanical fuel treatments such as crushing, piling, or limbing would be permitted." (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Alternative 4 - Prohibit Road Construction, Reconstruction and All Timber Cutting Within Inventoried Roadless Areas: This alternative states that road construction and reconstruction activities to include temporary road construction "...would be prohibited in inventoried roadless areas. Timber cutting would be prohibited for commodity or stewardship purposes. Personal use harvest, including firewood and Christmas trees, would be allowed. Limited tree cutting may occur incidental to other management activities such as trail construction or maintenance, hazard tree removal adjacent to classified roads for public health and safety reasons, fire line construction for wildland fire suppression or control of prescribed fire, or for survey and maintenance of property boundaries. Mechanical fuel treatments such as crushing, piling, or limbing would be permitted, but under this alternative, area-wide tree cutting for fuel reduction purposes would be prohibited. These prohibitions would become effective upon implementation of the final rule. Under this alternative, the responsible official may authorize an exception to the prohibition on timber harvest if: (1) such harvest is necessary to prevent degradation or loss of habitat for a threatened, endangered, or proposed species under the Endangered Species Act; or (2) such harvest is needed to promote recovery of a threatened or endangered species." (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Stated as exceptions that are common to all action alternatives are the following which may be authorized by the responsible official relating to road construction or reconstruction in inventories roadless areas when:

road is needed to protect public health and safety in cases of an imminent threat of flood, fire, or other catastrophic event that, without intervention, would cause the loss of life or property;

road is needed to conduct a response action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or to conduct a natural resource restoration action under CERCLA, section 311 of the Clean Water Act, or the Oil Pollution Act;

road is needed pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights, or as provided for by statute or treaty; or Realignment is needed to prevent irreparable resource damage by a classified road. The road must be deemed essential for public or private access, natural resource management, or public health and safety, and the resource damage associated with the road cannot be corrected by maintenance. (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

Stated as potential social and economic mitigation measures is that the responsible official may "authorize road construction or reconstruction in any inventoried areas" when: (a) Reconstruction is needed to implement road safety improvement projects on roads determined to be hazardous on the basis of accident experience or accident potential; (b) the Secretary of Agriculture determines that a Federal Aid Highway project, authorized pursuant to Title 23 of the United States Code, is in the public interest or is consistent with the purposes for which the land was reserved or acquired and no other feasible alternative exists; and - a road is needed for prospective mineral leasing activities in inventoried roadless areas. (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

One of the following provisions may be implemented by the Chief of the Forest Service in the economic transition program for those communities which are most impacted by management changes in inventoried roadless areas:

1) Provide financial assistance to stimulate community-led transition programs and projects in communities most affected by changes in roadless area management;

2) Through financial support and action plans, attract public and private interest, both financial and technical, to aid in successfully implementing local transition projects and plans by coordinating with other Federal and State agencies: and 3) Assist local, State, Tribal and Federal partners to work with communities most affected by the final roadless area decision. (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

III. ANALYSIS of ALTERNATIVES and IMPACTS of ALTERNATIVES

The alternatives set out of the Tongass National Forest include four detailed methods of application of the prohibitions to the Tongass National Forest. Stated is: "The exceptions common to all action alternatives described previously would also apply to these action alternatives." (United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Services, 2000)

The Tongass Exempt classification is stated to be an alternative selected for the rest of National Forest System lands is not applicable to the Tongass National Forest because the Tongass National Forest is exempt from the 'Roadless Rule' and land the land management plan revision is according to the 1999 Record of Decision. Case-by-case analysis is applied to decisions of future proposals of construction of roads and where allowed "by the current land management plan, with roadless characteristics and values analyzed at the project level and raised as an issue. The second stated alternative is that the alternative selected for the rest of the National Forest Land System would apply to the Tongass National Forest. Under this alternative the inventories roadless areas in the Tongass National Forest would not be except "from the final rule and decision but instead the chosen alternative for the rest of the National Forest System would apply to the Tongass National Forest as well. Stated…[continue]

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