Farm Bill would weaken logging protections and curtail public input

Logging in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest. (© Jim Waite)

The U.S. House of Representatives is once again considering legislation that would bypass public involvement or consideration negative impacts from logging on public lands.

The Farm Bill forestry provisions largely mirror those in the Resilient Forests Act of 2017 (the Westerman bill), which passed the U.S. House but did not advance in the Senate. It would create massive categorical exclusions (CEs) that are overkill even for large western forests, much less our smaller eastern forests, which are crowded with ecological values and recreational use. The categorical exclusions would allow logging on wide swaths of national forests without applying the usual legal protections.

Under the House proposal, logging and road construction would be allowed in long-protected roadless areas. Public participation requirements would be waived on clear-cutting up to 6,000 acres in a single project, a loophole that would swallow even the largest projects in our region.

This draft bill includes outlandish changes to the laws that protect our public lands, cutting out the local people who actually use these places and value them for things like recreation, clean water, and scenery.”

—Attorney Sam Evans, leader of SELC’s National Forests and Parks Program

SELC will be watching closely to make sure this bad bill doesn’t make it through the Senate version of the Farm Bill.

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