Advocacy 101 is a new series to highlight the important foundations of environmental advocacy.
How to Write Effective NEPA Comments
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires a federal agency to prepare a detailed statement of effects for major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, such as allowing coal mine expansion on National Forest lands. Agencies must engage the public in the NEPA process, and respond to written comments received on their NEPA analysis.
- Focus on Cause and Effect – If you allege that the Forest Service’s expansion proposal and analysis does or does not do something, then clearly connect the dots. For example, “The EIS underestimated the effects of the mine expansion on recreation because it failed to consider direct, indirect and cumulative impacts to big game. I have hunted in the Upper North Fork, and future hunting would be compromised by this proposal. The EIS does not account for these impacts.” Or focus on the relationship between methane emissions from the mine and your enjoyment of snow-dependent winter recreation.
- Provide Factual Support – If you have support for your statement, cite to it! Include news articles, scientific papers, or statements you’ve heard made by agency staff.
- This is Not a Popularity Contest – While it is important to let the agency know your general opinion on a project, specific information is much more helpful than general statements of support or opposition. The most effective comments are those that provide useful information to the agency. Comments on the DEIS are not counted as votes or as part of a referendum. They are used to improve the document and analyses, and to ensure that the impacts are adequately determined before the agency makes a final decision on the proposed project.
- Point Out Shortcomings in the EIS – Point out areas where the EIS is not clear or is missing necessary information. State clearly that you were not able to analyze potential impacts of the decision due to the lack of information.
- Click here to download A Citizen’s Guide to NEPA to learn more.
Input Needed for GMUG Forest Plan Revision
If you’re a fan of the Gunnison National Forest and care about its future, then you can’t afford to sit out during Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest (GMUG) Forest Plan revision. In June 2017, the Forest Service launched a once-in-decades opportunity to update the GMUG Forest Plan. Our forest plan is the oldest in the nation, and we have the opportunity to bring forest management into the 21st century.
What Does the GMUG Forest Plan Do?
The GMUG is a combination of three national forests covering 3,161,900 acres. The GMUG Forest Plan guides stewardship by creating a “big picture” view of how the forest will be managed. Because our current forest plan was developed in 1983, it struggles to address the remarkable challenges and opportunities confronting the GMUG today.
What is Forest Plan Revision?
The National Forest Management Act of 1976 requires that forest plans be periodically revised. The GMUG revision process is expected to last three to four years, and will establish management direction for wilderness, recreation, wildlife habitat, water and extractive uses. Revision emphasizes public involvement, giving YOU an important opportunity to help shape the future of the GMUG.
What Can We Accomplish Together?
HCCA is leading efforts to bring forest management into the 21st century through public education and outreach, research and technical comments, and on-the-ground advocacy. Our goal is to see a revised GMUG Forest Plan that protects, restores and increases wilderness and wildlands; prioritizes the conservation of land, water and wildlife; supports sustainable recreation; and is based on the best available science. For more information, please contact HCCA’s Public Lands Director Matt Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org. And to stay up-to-speed with the planning process and opportunities for engagement, bookmark our www.gmugrevision.com webpage.
NEPA – Your Gateway to Advocacy
Acronyms are a dime a dozen in the conservation arena: ESA, USFS, BLM, EPA, CWA, CAA, SBEADMR, RCRA, and so forth. But one acronym stands above the others as worthy of remembering and worthy of understanding: NEPA. NEPA stands for National Environmental Policy Act, and it’s your gateway to public lands advocacy.
NEPA is a bedrock United States environmental law enacted in 1970 to promote the enhancement of the environment and to ensure that environmental issues are weighted equally when compared to other factors in the decision-making process undertaken by federal agencies. Most importantly, the environmental review process under NEPA provides an opportunity for YOU to be involved in decision-making. Citizens often have valuable information about places and resources and the potential environmental effects that proposed federal actions may have on them.
NEPA does not require the government to select the environmentally preferable alternative, nor does it prohibit adverse environmental effects (case in point, the North Fork coal loophole). But NEPA does require that decision makers be informed of the environmental consequences of their actions. And that’s where you come in. Participating in the NEPA comment process, combined with advocacy targeting elected officials, politicians, and important stakeholders, sends a powerful message to the Forest Service, BLM and other land management agencies.
HCCA is eager to work with our members and the public to build a movement of activists in Gunnison County to achieve a sustainable future for all of us. Understanding the basics of the NEPA process, and the opportunities it affords you as a citizen, are key to more effective advocacy. To learn more about having your voice heard, click here to download a copy of A Citizen’s Guide to NEPA.