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Groups ask for comment period extension on Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Plan

This article originally appeared in the Lewiston Tribune on April 3, 2020. Written by Eric Barker

MOSCOW — The environmental group Friends of the Clearwater has asked that the comment period on the revision of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Plan be extended because of the coronavirus.

The forest is taking comments on its draft forest plan revision and environmental impact statement through April 20. The group sent a letter to forest supervisor Cheryl Probert asking that it be extended for another 60 days. In addition, the group has requested a pause in comment periods for proposed projects on the forest.

“We are asking the Forest Service to extend the public comment period for the forest plan revision due to the extraordinary circumstances currently facing millions of Americans,” said Gary Macfarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater. “Citizens are rightfully focusing on their families and loved ones right now, not government proposals and public comment deadlines.”

Macfarlane noted that since the draft forest plan was released in December, the agency has also initiated public comment periods on nine additional projects.

“All of these proposals require time-consuming analysis, making it difficult for the public to participate in how the Forest Service is managing their forests, and this was before COVID-19 started imposing profound hardship and significant disruptions to daily life,” he said.