The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced the final rule governing the objection process for projects and activities implementing land-management plans. The final rule is available at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-03-27/html/2013-06857.htm.
"This rule gives the public more effective involvement, supports our collaborative processes and will result in better decision-making," said USFS Chief Tom Tidwell.
The predecisional administrative review, or objection process, will be applied under federal regulation to all projects and activities that implement land-management plans and that are documented in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. The FS has successfully used this objection process since 2004 for hazardous-fuel reduction projects authorized under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
Within the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, Congress directed the FS to also establish a predecisional objection process for other projects in lieu of the post-decisional appeal procedures that had been in use with those projects since 1993.
The new regulations respond to the statute by creating an objection process that applies to all authorized project proposals. This final rule follows after a review of public comments submitted in response to the publication of the proposed rule last year. The rule is effective immediately but transition provisions will apply to projects already in the planning stage.