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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

Heritage Forests Campaign Fact Sheet

The Healthy Forests Initiative

The Bush Administration's ‘Healthy Forests Initiative’ is a clear attack on environmental laws and public participation in national forest management. By eliminating all requirements for environmental review and all opportunities for public comment and administrative appeal, the Administration's plan is even more extreme than the 1995 Salvage Rider.

Below is a list of the major components of the Bush Administration’s “Healthy Forest Initiative” that have already been put in motion through Administrative actions or by Congress.


Healthy Forest Initiative:

- Waives the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for fuels reduction projects on millions of acres of federal forest lands with high fire risk (condition class 3).
For more information on the Healthy Forest Initiative click here.

Recent Actions:

12/11/03 - Environmental Assessments (EAs) – Agency guidance to severely reduce requirements for environmental assessments (EAs) will be tested on ten projects to finalize new standards for an EA. EA’s are necessary for obtaining a categorical exclusion. Click here to download the guidance document for EA's.

12/16/03 – Proposed to exempt "hazardous fuels reduction projects" from the documentation requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This would allow the Forest Service to conduct thinning and other fuel reduction activities without preparing an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment.
click here for background material.

1/3/03 - Proposed a categorical exclusion from the NEPA requirements to prepare “environmental disclosure documents”(no EISs or EAs) for timber sales less than 50 acres and salvage sales no more than 250 acres in size and less than ½ mile of temporary roads. Click here to view the Federal Register Notice.


Healthy Forests Initiative:

- Repeals the 1993 Appeals Reform Act. This exempts ALL agency actions, not just fuel reduction projects from the administrative appeals process (this would include oil and gas drilling, old-growth timber sales, and road construction projects).

- Limits judicial review by prohibiting temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, and by giving deference to an agency’s findings regarding the environmental harms of a project

Recent Actions:

12/18/02 – Proposed changes in the Forest Service appeals process which will make it more difficult to appeal Forest Service timber sales and other land management decisions (two separate proposed rules one for FS and one for BLM). Click here to view the Federal Register Notice.


Healthy Forests Initiative:

- Accelerates the ESA “consultation” process.

Recent Actions:

12/10/02 - Guidance from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to expedite (section 7) ESA consultations on fuel reduction projects. Click here to download the guidance document.


Healthy Forests Initiative:

- Authorizes 28 additional pilot projects for long-term Stewardship Contracts: Timber companies allowed to log large trees in return for thinning of smaller trees and underbrush, otherwise known as “tress as fees.”

Recent Actions:

2/13/03 - Congress passed legislation in the recent omnibus appropriations bill allowing an unlimited number of ten-year stewardship contracts (until 2013). This new rider will make an untested pilot project into national policy. Click here for more information.

Photos of Forests