Forest Planning Process
STEP FOUR: Objections
WHAT IT IS: The 2005 Forest Service planning regulations do not provide citizens an opportunity for administrative appeal of a final forest plan. Instead, citizens can file an "objection" to a plan before a final decision is made. The objection is submitted to the Forest Service officer one level above the official who will approve the plan. Usually, this will be the Regional Forester, who may instruct the Forest Supervisor to modify the plan or conduct more analysis in response to the objections. Once the forest supervisor makes a final decision, there is no way to challenge it except by going to court.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: You are eligible to object only if you submitted written comments during the planning process. Once the USFS files notice with the Federal Register, you'll have 30 days to send in pre-decisional objections. The Forest Service will send the final plan to anyone who requests a copy and will post it on that national forest's website. Your objection should describe how the final plan does not adequately respond to the issues and concerns you have raised during the planning process. You should explain the ways in which the plan violates applicable federal laws and Forest Service rules and regulations, including requirements of the 2005 planning regulations and directives. You should also indicate how you want the plan to be changed.
If the Forest Service is preparing an environmental assessment or EIS for a project, there will also likely be an opportunity for administrative appeal. For projects that are categorically excluded from NEPA, there will be relatively little public involvement.