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Great American Outdoors Act funding

The Forest Service is taking input on projects to be funded under the Great American Outdoors Act. This law fully funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the first time in decades, and provided additional money for the agencies. That said, the funding source is highly problematic—a percentage of offshore oil and gas lease revenues. The upshot is any money for public lands or public land acquisition comes at the expense of the global climate. Congress should realize this error and fix it soon.

Locally, on the Nez-Clear, the Forest Service has a laundry list of projects that include upgrading roads to nowhere, pouring more money into old administrative sites to turn them into rentals (even though that is not often cost-effective), unspecified trail work, and campground improvement. The lack of specificity makes it hard to determine what are the most pressing priorities, as some seem a waste of money. Further, it is not clear that the Forest Service has done the necessary analysis and public involvement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on the proposals that could have impacts on water quality and wildlife habitat.

Most telling is the omission of two projects—neither of which would need to go through the National Environmental Policy Act—that should be the highest priority. The first is the acquisition of the upper Lochsa checkerboard lands back into public ownership. The second is monitoring for the effectiveness of gated and other road closures and monitoring trails to ensure there is no unlawful motorized or mechanized use. For example, FOC members and staff have documented illegal motorized use in the Gospel Hump Wilderness this year.

For more information you may choose to visit the Forest Service’s webpage. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r1/home/?cid=fseprd796790&width=full. You can also comment below through this webpage.

Points you may want to consider:

* Ask the Forest Service to make its top priority for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests acquiring the upper Lochsa checkerboard lands.

* Ask the Forest Service to make its other top priority on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests road and trail monitoring: 1) to monitor for the effectiveness of gated or barricaded road closures; and 2) to monitor trails for illegal motorized or mechanized use, and where illegal use is occurring, to take steps to halt or prevent it.

* Ask the Forest Service to complete adequate NEPA documentation on its other proposals that would have impacts such as increasing use, affecting wildlife habitat, or damaging watersheds before approval and implementation.

Comments can be submitted through the comment form below to Regional Forester Leanne Marten (leanne.marten@usda.gov) or at the above referenced website; however, the website above only allows you to comment on the Forest Service’s proposals, and not on acquiring the Lochsa Checkerboard or trail monitoring.

Please note that if you use the below comment form, browsers or browser settings can sometimes interfere with the submission. We recommend that you bcc yourself; if you receive the email, you will know that the agency did, too.

We encourage you to personalize your message below:

Great American Outdoors Act funding

Hello Regional Forester Marten,

**your signature**

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