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ACTION ALERT: Tell CAL FIRE the Revised JDSF Management Plan Requires Environmental Review

Photo by Missvain via Wikipedia.

At the next meeting of the Jackson Advisory Group (JAG), the citizen body tasked with advising the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) on the management of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), CAL FIRE will ask the JAG to approve a Scope of Work outlining the job description of a consultant who will be hired to conduct the revision of the JDSF management plan.

This revision is welcome as the current JDSF management plan is sorely out of date and does not represent the values of the people of California. CAL FIRE agreed to begin this revision a few years earlier in response to community pressure, tribal consultation, and top-down pressure from elected officials. Even according to CAL FIRE,JDSF management needs to be modernized.

However, there’s a big problem with this Scope of Work. CAL FIRE has decided to skip environmental review for the JDSF management plan revision. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), environmental review is required for all projects approved by the State of California. CAL FIRE has decided not to perform CEQA review as they rewrite the JDSF management plan, effectively limiting public participation in and oversight of how this publicly owned forest will be managed in the future. CEQA defines a “project” as “an activity which may cause either a direct physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment…” (Pub. Rec Code § 21065), so by skipping environmental review, CAL FIRE is saying that their new management plan won’t change, or improve, the physical environment in JDSF.

Environmental review under CEQA is essential. First, the environmental review process gives specific leverage to local tribes to ensure that their cultural resources are protected. By skipping environmental review, CAL FIRE makes many of those considerations optional. Second, environmental review gives the public a better understanding of the full impact of the forest's overarching management objectives. CAL FIRE insists that environmental impacts can be considered on a case-by-case basis under each individual timber harvest plan (THP). Importantly, though, such environmental review is limited to individual THPs and does not capture the broader environmental impact of the CAL FIRE's overarching goals for forest management.

According to CAL FIRE, the forest management plan is “the document that guides all the management activities for the forest.” That document deserves a thorough environmental review to ensure that this public forest is managed according to best environmental principles and science.

Please write to CAL FIRE’s JDSF team today and tell them the revised Jackson Demonstration State Forest management plan requires environmental review. Click here to take action.


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