We sincerely hope this update finds you healthy. Our thoughts go out to the many families affected by COVID-19 and facing hardship and significant disruptions in their lives. In compliance with Idaho Governor Little’s stay-home order, our staff is working from home at this time. Staff email addresses are listed at the bottom of this letter.
As of now, the Forest Service is still charging on with public comment periods for multiple projects on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. The comment deadline for the forest plan revision is April 20, 2020. On behalf of our members and the general public, however, we requested the agency to extend the deadline for an additional 60-days. Read the news release and letter. We are also asking the Forest Service to pause or extend all other comment deadlines for every proposal on these forests, including the just-released Dead Laundry project and Section 16 project. We will have an action alert for these two proposals soon.
Friends of the Clearwater is not alone in seeking public comment periods to be extended or paused. On March 17, a coalition of conservation groups and other entities sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration requesting the comment deadline be extended for the Columbia River System Operations (lower Snake River dams) Draft Environmental Impact Statement. CRSO Comment.Extension Coronavirus
Some agencies are, indeed, extending or pausing comment periods. The National Marine Fisheries Service extended its public comment on the Endangered Species Act five-year status review for Pacific salmon and steelhead until May. The Forest Service for a North Carolina national forest intends to issue an extension on its forest-plan public comment period.
We recognize that we cannot fully understand the hardships and disruptions facing each individual reading this. But, for those of you who do have the ability to contact the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Supervisor by email, you might request the agency to pause or extend all comment periods, including the forest plan revision, as soon as possible and stop issuing new projects with more comment periods during this time of national emergency. Our combined public pressure might convince the Forest Service to do the right thing.
Stay safe and thank you!