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Catagorical Exclusions-Cancelled Events

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POCATELLO, ID (Sept. 29) - A recent order by a federal court prohibits the U.S. Forest Service from using streamlined regulations to permit many popular recreational activities as well as projects that reduce hazardous fuels and improve wildlife habitat.

On July 2, 2005 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an Order banning the use of Categorical Exclusions (CEs). The ruling requires any forest project using a CE to include a formal public notice, be available for public comment and give the public the option of appealing the decision. The order applies to all decisions made with a CE after July 7, 2005. It also applies nationwide.

The court order is a result of a lawsuit filed by the following anti-recreation groups; the Earth Island Institute, Sequoia ForestKeeper, Heartwood, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club against a timber project on the Sequoia National Forest.

A CE is a category of actions that do not have a significant effect on the environment and therefore do not require an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). CEs are allowed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They simplify documentation -- not eliminate it -- for those actions that clearly do not have a significant effect on the environment. Such permitted activities include certain off-road vehicle events, mountain bike tours and group outings for organizations such as the Boy or Girl Scouts.

Brian Hawthorne, Public Lands Director for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, "I think the green groups have gone too far with their anti-recreation agenda. They seek to create a virtual 'analysis paralysis' in the Forest Service to advance their agenda. Sadly, it is the responsible recreating public who will suffer because of their extreme positions."

"I believe the American public will see this for what it is - radical environmentalism run amok. If a project meets the specific and limited criteria for Categorical Exclusion and cannot have a significant effect on the environment, land managers should not be forced to complete an unnecessarily lengthy and wasteful analysis. " Hawthorne added.

This decisions impact projects such as the Capitol Holiday Tree program, which allows a tree from a different national forest to grace the lawn of the U.S. Capitol throughout the holiday season-a proud tradition for nearly 40 years. "Instead of approving such projects with a streamlined permit using CEs, the agency must now enact a lengthy 135 day notice, comment, and appeal process," Hawthorne said. "It's not just the mom and pop recreation clubs that get hurt, but great American traditions like placing the Christmas tree on the White House lawn are affected as well."

Hawthorne noted that the ruling potentially affects hundreds of projects throughout the country, including projects that will reduce hazardous fuels and improve wildlife habitat. Hawthorne added; "The effects of the decision are not yet completely understood and it will take some time to fully assess a strategy of action. BRC remains committed to protecting recreational access to public lands and will be watching the situation closely."

More info on the ruling: http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/applit/litigation.htm

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Look what happened to San Diego the huge fire resulting from all of the dead and diseased trees that they wouldn't allow to be removed . What a Fire...that plan really worked for them. It is a matter of time before we truly understand the balance that we need to maintain to keep the forests healthy.

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I'm not certain exactly what this means regarding Cancelled Events----are you suggesting that the ban on CEs now makes it harder for the USFS to permit events like enduros??? and therefore they are likely to be cancelled for failure to get proper permit via the protocols established to do so....because they are harder and more time consuming???? Sorry, its not clear to me...long day.

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The biggest problem pete is that we all just found out about this a few days ago and it went into effect July 7th, so if you had not submitted your maps, dates, permits etc... then you won't make the 145 days comment/appeals time. CERA will be having the Crazy Miner Family Enduro but now we have to change the course as we can't use Rock Creek Rd. Some other clubs wern't so lucky. Now all clubs must have evrything done about 5.5 months in advance which is tough for some early year events as they can't confirm dates until the AMA gives them out (Quicksilver, but CC is another issue and not looking good).

Kraig Traum

D36 Committeeman

CERA President

www.cera.org

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The biggest problem pete is that we all just found out about this a few days ago and it went into effect July 7th

yep. screwed up decision i think in the short run, but in the long-term, relatively straightforward. just required posting the information for comment and opens cx decisions up for appeal (the appeal part may be a problem).

the blm office where i work doesn't use cx's for event permits. we do real Environmental Assessments for races so this decision doesn't affect us at all. we do use cx's for prescribed burns. i'm not sure if the decision only applies to the usfs or if it also applies to blm, but it will mean a little more planning is required in the future.

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