Rim Fire logging on fast track

By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

The President's Council on Environmental Quality will allow the U.S. Forest Service to fast track a recently proposed Rim Fire recovery plan by streamlining National Environmental Policy Act procedures, the first exemption of its kind in the past five years.

"It is unusual for the Forest Service to seek this expedited process," said Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski. "Our work is urgent because the burned timber will rapidly deteriorate and lose its commercial value."

The council's decision will allow the Forest Service to shorten the public comment period for the required Environmental Impact Statement from 45 to 30 days. The early draft of the EIS is expected for release in April 2014.

The Forest Service will also be able to concurrently make a formal decision on the plan when it releases the final EIS sometime in late summer. The final EIS will take into account the public comments received on the early draft.

As a result, the time it takes to complete the whole NEPA process should be shortened by about 45 days.

For the full story see today's Union Democrat.

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