Streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act reporting requirements: A hard look at the Healthy Forests Initiative
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has implemented the Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) (2002), which streamlines the NEPA process for proposed forest fuel reduction projects. A key question is whether the USFS's streamlined NEPA process produces an adequate environmental document and fulfills regulatory requirements. This thesis evaluates whether the streamlined approach practiced by the USFS under the HFI satisfies the NEPA requirements. A review of four streamlined documents assesses whether these requirements are met. The following NEPA requirements in particular are explored for each project to determine whether the NEPA requirements are met: consideration of a reasonable range of alternatives to the project, cumulative environmental impacts that may result from the project, and use of the best available data in the environmental analysis. The conclusions indicate that each streamlined document meets regulatory requirements. Failure to comply with the NEPA process under the HFI is not anticipated for future projects.