‘Paperwork protests’ contribute to wildfire chaos

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Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities,

“Paperwork protests” are keeping the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from reducing wildfire and smoke risks on public lands, and providing sustainable timber harvests to support jobs.

The good news is the BLM is proposing to modernize its forest management rules for the first time in 35 years. These rules provide an alternative to the paperwork protests that block efforts to manage our forests and keep them accessible.

What are paperwork protests? Under current rules anti-forestry groups stall forest management by filing written objections after environmental analyses have been completed, pubic input has been received, and land management decisions have been made. These paperwork protests often contain hundreds of pages with frivolous points that have little to do with the work at hand. Because the BLM must respond to each point under current rules, this broken process drains taxpayer resources and brings forest management to a halt.

In a few horrible cases, wildfires will devastate a forest where smart forest management is planned before the BLM can even respond to the protests. For example, the Pickett Hog timber sale in Oregon received 29 protests in September 2017 – delaying the project by more than a year. Before the BLM could complete protest reviews and responses, the Taylor Creek fire burned the forest in July 2018.

Please help us end this obstruction by submitting a comment in support of the new rule.

The BLM’s proposed rules improve public participation in land management decisions. They will allow the public to comment on forest projects earlier in the process when public input can have the greatest impact. But “paperwork protests” could no longer be used and abused – after decisions have been made – simply to stall work that helps keep our forests healthy, accessible and less vulnerable to severe fire.