A look at the Custer Gallatin's Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The Draft Plan and the mouthful of an analysis document the Draft Environmental Impact Statement are out on the streets for the Custer Gallatin National Forest Plan Revision process. But what does that mean and what's next? It means we're rounding the corner into the Forest’s final year of Forest Planning, which was launched in January 2016. The Forest has held over 80 public meetings, received thousands of comments, incorporated those comments into the forest plan and the range of alternatives, and spent critical time working across resource fields and across boundaries with other agencies to analyze the potential effects of the alternatives.
The release of the draft plan and draft environmental impact statement marks the start of a 90(+)-day comment period running March 1 – June 6, 2019. This comment period allows the interested public to weigh in and consider the benefits and tradeoffs of each alternative.
A full spectrum of alternatives were drafted and analyzed in all resource fields and ultimately each alternative has benefits and tradeoffs to the resource and/or the American public.
Several citizen-built submissions, as well as individual or organizational comments were heard and incorporated into the range of alternatives and analyzed alongside each other. The best time to get involved or stay involved is now. This final comment period aims to gather comments from the public and determine areas that may need additional work or refinement heading into the final plan and final environmental impact statement. The Forest does not have a preferred alternative.
“We will consider the full breadth of public comment prior to selecting an alternative or elements of specific alternatives. However, this is not voting. It will really help to ensure your comment goes beyond the easy answer of voting for your desired alternative. Please help us by providing your reasoning for your comments,” said Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson.
Ultimately, the decision maker Mary Erickson can draw from any alternative so long as the elements have been analyzed as part of the draft environmental impact statement. The Forest will be hosting ten public meetings, eight webinars, and ten resource-specific podcasts (approx. 15 min segments, running in a series and anticipated to be available the week of March 18 at Outlandish, Your Forests, Your Future). Various entities will also be hosting their own informational sessions and if interested, the Forest may be able to provide short informational / how-to-comment 101 sessions.
For full details and to download documents, go to fs.usda.gov/custergallatin and click on Forest Plan Revision, then Draft Plan and/or Commenting. A limited amount of hardcopies are available by calling (406) 587-6735.