Published since 1946
USDA Secretary Perdue Issues Secretarial Memorandum to Forest Service
Through a Secretarial Memorandum issued on June 12, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is calling on the Chief of the Forest Service to simplify regulations and provide modern systems to “improve the delivery of the goods and services that the American people want and need from the Nation’s Forest System.” These goals are intended to have the agency work in a way that demonstrates its commitment to Shared Stewardship. The Memorandum specifically targets four key areas – increasing productivity, valuing the Nation’s grazing heritage, increasing access, and expediting environmental reviews to support active management.
“The 193 million acres of public lands managed by the Forest Service provide important resources and recreational opportunities to the people of this great Nation. These lands are critical for the prosperity of rural communities, sustaining jobs and livelihoods in grazing, mining, oil and gas development, recreation and forestry — sectors that support our American way of life. These lands also furnish food and water that all life depends on,” Perdue wrote in the Memorandum. “While I am proud of the progress to promote active management, reduce hazardous fuels, work across boundaries and increase the resiliency of our Nation’s forests and grasslands, I believe more can be done. Today, I am announcing a blueprint for reforms to further provide relief from burdensome regulations, improve customer service, and boost the productivity of our National Forests and Grasslands.”
Under the category of increasing the productivity of National Forests and Grasslands, Perdue directs the agency to focus resources on activities that support the productive use of the lands. This includes streamlining processes for energy production, reducing regulations to promote active management, and expediting broadband development to increase internet connectivity in rural America. Within the category of valuing grazing heritage, the Memorandum calls for supporting grazing in forest plans and streamlining the renewal of grazing permits and range improvements. It also encourages flexibility for Forest Service employees to work with ranching families and communities. To increase access to National Forests, the agency is charged with streamlining the permitting process for recreational activities, embracing new technology to improve access, opening public access to lands with limited access in cooperation with state and local partners, as well improving the forest products permitting and land exchange processes. Finally, with regards to expediting environmental reviews, the agency is asked to set time and page limits for environmental documentation, ensure that reviews focus on analysis required by law and regulation, work across the government to develop policies to streamline consultation processes and environmental reviews, and expedite compliance with State Historic Preservation Offices for vegetation management and facility and infrastructure improvements.