By Michael Howell
The U.S. Forest Service has adopted new rules governing the objection process to proposed projects on the national forests. In the past all environmental reviews would be completed, public comment accepted and the final decision made before anyone had a chance to file an objection. According to Stevensville District Ranger Dan Ritter, the new rules call for a final draft to be issued prior to the actual decision being made. The public will then have an opportunity to file objections to the project before the decision is actually made.
“It sort of moves the objection process up to the front end of the process rather than have it come when the whole thing’s all over,” said Ritter. He said it made sense to deal with the objections before making any final decision on a project.
“For the public, it should not change things that much,” said Ritter. He said they will still get a chance to review the final draft.
Ritter said the new rules are already in place and that the review of the long awaited Bitterroot National Forest Travel Management Plan, which he hopes will be released soon, will take place under the new regulations.