USFS Proposal Would Exclude Public Input

Aug. 12, 2019 Editor, The News-Gazette:

A potentially major change in U.S. Forest Service (USFS) policy is in the offing that will affect the say of local communities like ours in major decisions involving use of National Forest lands. In short, USFS proposes to “categorically exclude” public notice and comment on large-scale projects, including logging (up to 4,200 acres), road building, and “infrastructure” development. To be clear, USFS is proposing to move forward with certain activities on public lands without notifying the public or giving it the opportunity to comment for or against.

My main purpose here is to raise the public profile of this issue and to encourage local citizens to file their views with USFS and to contact our congressional representatives (which I have already done).

Our area depends on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests for livelihood and recreation. It is not too much to say that our local National Forest is part of our way of life. We hunt, fish, hike, camp, and conduct logging on our local National Forest lands. These lands also provide us with clean water and protect our air. Moreover, many own land that abuts National Forest and depend on the U.S. government’s responsible stewardship of the public land around us.

Personally, I strongly oppose limiting or eliminating the public’s involvement in decisions affecting our local National Forest lands. The proposed changes would not benefit our local economy and appear designed to help open the National Forest to exploitation by corporate interests that do not have a stake in our local community.

All concerned please get informed and involved. You can learn more, including where and how to submit your comments, through fs.fed.us. The comment period ends Aug. 26.

BRUCE SUMMERS

Lexington and Amherst

The News-Gazette

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