The Foothills Landscape Project is
the single most important Forest Service action
in Georgia in the last 15 years.
Foothills Landscape Project Update
The Foothills Landscape Project is a massive forest management plan proposed by the U.S. Forest Service in the Chattahoochee National Forest and is the single most important Forest Service proposal in Georgia in the last 15 years. Stretching over 157,000 acres (almost double the size of the city of Atlanta), the project proposes the use of logging, herbicides, and prescribed fire to manage forests while also altering trails and roads. It is still unclear how and when input on specific actions will be considered by organizations like Georgia ForestWatch (GAFW) and concerned citizens – like yourself.
Public input by organizations like GAFW, and that of concerned citizens, is crucial to both our mission and the appropriate management of our national forests. GAFW has been involved in the Foothills project from its inception, and with your support, will see the project through its lifespan.
Georgia ForestWatch is committed to thoughtful consideration of this immense project and its lasting impacts, yet concerns remain that the Foothills Landscape Project is still too vague to appropriately address when and where there will be opportunity for public input. GAFW, and many partner organizations, overwhelmingly believe that each distinct action must receive the proper analysis and input by the community mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
This is why Georgia ForestWatch and partners: Southern Environmental Law Center, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Chattooga Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society filed a formal objection to the Foothills Decision Notice. Our concerns, previously raised at every step in the process, are threefold.
- The Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA) unlawfully fails to identify the actions that will receive additional review and the actions that will not. The Forest Service’s Final Environmental Assessment seeks to use a programmatic review for the project, in which an entire suite of actions is broadly reviewed now and, in the future, the agency commits to conduct further environmental reviews of individual actions. However, the Final EA does not specify which actions have been fully evaluated and will not receive additional review under this programmatic approach.
- The Final EA improperly defers key decisions to the collaborative to be made without NEPA review. The Final EA defers key decisions into the future, to be made based on input from a collaborative group made up of forest stakeholders. We agree that getting input from stakeholders is important, but the environmental effects of the collaborative group’s recommendations also need to be evaluated. These decisions should not be made after the environmental review is completed.
- The Final EA fails to properly consider the climate impacts of the Foothills Landscape Project. The Final EA does not quantify the project’s likely impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Given the threat posed by climate change and the need to reduce emissions (?) in the near term, it is important for the Forest Service to understand the impact of its actions on carbon emissions and sequestration.
As always, we will keep you informed regarding the status of our objections, the collaborative group under the Foothills Landscape Project, and all other Forest Service projects in Georgia’s National Forests.
P.S. We can only achieve our mission through the support of the community. Please consider making a donation to Georgia ForestWatch as part of your year-end giving.
12/13/2021 Georgia ForestWatch and partners submitted Objection to Draft Decision Notice
10/6/2021 Draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant
7/13/2021 Revised Draft Environmental Assessment released
4/28/2021 USFS facilitated virtual conversations.
4/14/2021 USFS facilitated virtual conversations.
1/10/2020 30-Day Comment period ended for Draft Environmental Assessment
12/11/2019 Official 30-Day Comment period began
12/2/2019 Draft Environmental Assessment released
- Georgia ForestWatch and Partners Objection to Draft Decision Notice
- Draft Decision Notice and FONSI
- Georgia ForestWatch and Partners Comment on Revised EA
- REVISED Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) 7.13.2021
- Spring 2021 article and update
- Winter 2020 article and update
- ForestWatch Comment – Draft Environmental Analysis (EA) 1.10.20
- Foothills Landscape Project Documents – US Forest Service
- Official Comment Reading Room – All comments over the life of the project
- Compilation of example comments – 1.10.20 comment deadline
- Draft Environmental Assessment – US Forest Service 12.2.2019
- ForestWatch and partners comments on project plans 12.22.2017