K.I.S.S. in Rule Form, Part 8
The proposed K.I.S.S. rules are based on the premise that the Forest Service is revising forest plans, not promulgating new plans from scratch. This premise implies a rebuttable presumption that the existing plan’s provisions are satisfactory. NFMA supports this approach to plan revision.
For example, NFMA requires the Forest Service review timberland suitability decisions “at least every 10 years” and “return lands to timber production” when the Forest Service finds that “conditions have changed.” Thus, only if “conditions have changed” does the FS review its previously-made timberland suitability decisions. This mandate appears best met by adding to K.I.S.S.’s “new information or changed circumstances” assessment a new provision, as follows (addition is in italics):
36 CFR 219.3: Assessment of New Information and Changed Circumstances
(a) The revision shall assess (the “assessment”) new information and changed circumstances and conditions in the unit that are relevant to the decisions made in the land management plan. If the new information or changed circumstances and conditions warrant amendments to the land management plan, the land management plan amendments shall be assessed as a part of the vegetation management and timber harvest program’s NEPA document. If the land management plan amendments, singly or in combination with the vegetation management and timber harvest program, require an environmental impact statement pursuant to Section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., an environmental impact statement shall be prepared.
(b) The assessment shall determine whether new information or changed circumstances warrant a review of lands the Forest Service has classified as suitable or unsuitable for timber production. The review shall focus on, but is not limited to, lands proposed for timber harvest in the plan revision’s vegetation management and timber harvest program.