Photo of a longleaf pine forest in Louisiana.
Longleaf Pine Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. © Harold E. Malde

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Trump Administration Weakens Forest Protections

New Forest Service regulations limit environmental reviews for new projects

The Trump administration today finalized new rules expanding the size and scope of forest management activities, such as logging and road construction, now exempt from full environmental reviews.

The new U.S. Forest Service regulations create six new “categorical exclusions” – projects subject to limited review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on the theory they would not have a significant environmental impact – including for forest restoration and resilience, recreational sites and road building. The new rules also allow the Forest Service, in certain situations, to use a previously completed NEPA review rather than initiate a new analysis.

The following is a statement by Cecilia Clavet, senior policy advisor for forests at The Nature Conservancy:

“The best outcomes for the health and resilience of America's forests can only happen with robust scientific analysis and an open, public review process. Unfortunately, today’s new rule eliminates these requirements in several major areas, significantly weakening one of our forests’ bedrock environmental protections. It is a step in the wrong direction for the future of America's forests and the communities they support.

It is a step in the wrong direction for the future of America's forests and the communities they support.

Senior Policy Advisor for Forests for The Nature Conservancy

“Although this final rule is an improvement over the administration’s original proposal, it still goes too far. While there is a role for some categorical exclusions, this expansion of their use to a broad set of management activities is concerning. It could result in less public involvement, limited scientific analysis and ultimately poorer outcomes for forests – which means poorer outcomes for all of us. As we continue to evaluate these changes, we urge federal forest managers to pursue collaboration with stakeholders and a robust review process for future projects.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.