Environmental studies may no longer be a part of the US forest management plans. The United States Forest Service recently decided not to write lengthy and time-consuming environmental impact statements, particularly while revising the national forest plans.
Forest service officials have estimated that planning and assessment activities consume 40 per cent of total work at the national forests. This costs more than US $250 million per year. Planning costs for a single project can exceed US $1million. Besides, the 15-year forest plans, which the forest service is required to prepare for each of the 125 units of the national forest system, are often 800 pages long and require as long as 10 years to prepare at an average cost of US $9 million each. The long time taken to draw the plans makes them obsolete by the time they are done and since they do not lead to any decisions, "let us not waste more years and dollars" writing the impact statements, said the authorities.
The regulation thus lists the 15-year forest planning projects as a "categorical exclusion" and asks planners to skip the tasks of conducting environmental impact assessments.
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