NYFP’s Proposed Action & the NEPA Process
On or near September 10, 2021, the U.S. Forest Service will release the Notice of Intent for the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project Environmental Impact Statement (the NOI). The NOI provides:
1) A description of the purpose and need of the project. The purpose and need of the project were developed by not only the U.S. Forest Service but the North Yuba Forest Partnership (NYFP) as well.
The NYFP is a diverse group of nine organizations passionate about forest health and the resilience of the North Yuba River watershed. Together, the NYFP is working on an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance, and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres of the watershed.
2) A description of the proposed action. The proposed action is a proposal by the Forest Service to recommend or implement an action on National Forest System lands.
In the case of the of the upcoming NOI, the proposed action is essentially a description of how the U.S Forest Service and the NYFP propose to (1) improve and restore forest health and resilience, (2) reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire that threatens communities and wildlife, (3) protect local communities from the threat of high-severity wildfire and climate change, and (4) protect and secure water supplies, including rivers, streams, and meadows.
3) The initial public comment period for the Environmental Impact Statement, which will last for 30 days.
4) Methods by which public comments can be provided.
What is NEPA?
NEPA is an acronym for the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. This legislation requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision-making processes. This is achieved by considering the environmental impacts of proposed actions on federally managed lands and reasonable alternatives to those actions. The actions proposed by the NYFP are on National Forest System lands and, as a result, are subject to NEPA.
What is the Purpose of the NEPA Process?
- To ensure that information on the environmental impacts of any Federal, or federally funded, project or action is available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.
- To consider the environmental impacts of a project or action on federally managed lands, or federally funded, and to evaluate reasonable alternatives to those actions.
- To provide the public with ample opportunity to comments on the project or action’s purpose and need, proposed action, analysis of the environmental effects, and alternatives and mitigation measures.
What are the Steps in the NEPA Process?
- The U.S. Forest Service will soon publish the NOI. Please see above for details included in the NOI.
- Once NOI is published, the public will have 45 days to provide comments. The public is also invited to attend public meetings (possibly held virtually) about the project.
- A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is then prepared.
- Similar to the NOI, the public is given time to review the draft EIS and provide comment.
- A final EIS is then prepared and published.
- A decision on the proposed action, selected alternative, or no action is then recorded within a Record of Decision (ROD) document.
- Once a Record of Decision is published, and pending a final objection period, the proposed action or selected alternative can then be implemented.