Laws and regulations listed chronologically below are important tools for activists in guiding the administration and management of our federal public lands and for ensuring proper protection and management of species and ecosystems. Public Laws (PLs) and subsequent amendments are incorporated into the U. S. Code (USC) every six years. The USC is ordered by title, then chapter, and finally section (§). Statutes are described below, including the agencies affected. Reference information is given by title and section, followed by any additional relevant title sections. For example, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is section 1273 of title 16, or 16 USC § 1273. Title sections that apply to this act include sections 1271 through 1287, so the full reference reads 16 USC § 1273 (§§ 1271–1287). Statutes that have not yet been published in the USC are identified by PL number (e.g., PL 106-393). Laws passed after 1972 can be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov using the PL number. You can search the USC at http://uscode.house.gov/usc.htm; the Cornell Law School also makes the USC available online at www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode. For guidelines to implementing these laws, see the Code of Federal Regulations at www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html. Text of all laws and regulations is also available at public libraries.
Federal Agency Abbreviations
BLM: Bureau of Land Management
FWS: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NPS: National Park Service
USFS: U.S. Forest Service
Wilderness Act (1964)
Created the National Wilderness Preservation System, allowing Congress to designate wilderness areas on federal public land, to be managed by the agency with jurisdiction. USFS, NPS, BLM, FWS. 16 USC § 1131 (§§ 1131–1136). More information: Wilderness Information Network, www.wilderness.net.
National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1968)
Allows designation of free-flowing river segments for public access and recreation with three different classifications: wild, scenic, or recreational. These correspond to varying degrees of preexisting development. Candidate rivers can be proposed for study by citizen groups or local governments with the help of a willing representative who introduces a study bill for congressional approval. A river accepted for study is protected from development for up to six years. USFS, NPS, BLM, FWS. 16 USC § 1273 (§§ 1271–1287). More information: National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, www.nps.gov/rivers.
National Environmental Policy Act (1969)
Established a national policy for incorporating environmental protection and public participation into federal land-management decisions. Requires environmental assessments and draft and final environmental impact statements to be submitted before actions are taken that would significantly impact the environment. Allows administrative appeals of decisions by individuals or organizations. Created the Council on Environmental Quality. All federal agencies, including the Depts. of Defense and Energy. 42 USC § 4321 (§§ 4321–4370). More information: Council on Environmental Quality, http://ceq.eh.doe.gov/nepa/regs/ceq/toc_ceq.htm; USFS NEPA site, www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa.
Endangered Species Act (1973)
Species listed under the ESA are considered threatened or endangered (T&E), and the law forbids their “taking” (killing, harassing, harming, or removing). Some species have critical habitat designated under the ESA, but not many. Landowners conducting activities that may result in takings, like federal agencies, must consult with the FWS and NOAA. In addition, state and private resource lands are required to develop habitat conservation plans, which outline steps for T&E species protection but also exempt managers from further legal restrictions. A congressional moratorium on listing new species ended in 1996, and there is a large backlog of species that need listing. FWS, NOAA. 16 USC § 1533 (§§ 1531–1544). More information: FWS ESA site, http://endangered.fws.gov/policies/index.html; FWS list of wildlife laws, http://laws.fws.gov/lawsdigest/reslaws.html.
Federal Land Policy and Management Act (1976)
This BLM “Organic Act” established a management framework for the BLM based on multiple-use principles. Requires BLM managers to develop a comprehensive planning process that involves public input. Areas of critical environmental concern can be established, and natural resources must be protected and managed to ensure their integrity and viability. BLM. 43 USC § 1701 (§§ 1701–1782). More information: BLM FLMPA site, www.blm.gov/flpma; overview of the act, www.wilderness.net/nwps/legis/flpma_legis.cfm.
National Forest Management Act (1976)
The primary law concerning national forest administration, requires the USFS to implement a resource management plan for each unit, guided by multiple-use, sustained yield principles. Established public participation standards for involvement in national forest planning procedures. USFS. 16 USC §§ 1600–1614.
Washington State Wilderness Act (1984)
Established eighteen new wilderness areas in the national forests throughout WA along with one wilderness area within BLM jurisdiction (Juniper Dunes). Also sought to assure that other national forest roadless areas would be available for more intensive use, by allowing USFS to develop them without reviewing their potential for future wilderness designation until the expiration of existing forest-management plans (which were expected to be revised roughly every ten years). Of the thirty wilderness areas in the state at the writing of this book, three were established by the 1964 Wilderness Act, three were created by the 1988 WA Park Wilderness Act, and nineteen were established by the 1984 WA State Wilderness Act (the other five were designated in other legislation). USFS, BLM. 16 USC § 460pp.
Washington Park Wilderness Act (1988)
Established wilderness within the Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks and the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Created 1.7 million acres (roughly 40 percent) of the state’s current 4.3 million acres of designated wilderness. NPS. 16 USC § 90 note.
Appeals Reform Act (1992)
Enacted an administrative appeals process that allows individuals or organizations to file appeals of USFS natural resource management. Allows citizens to challenge legality of projects without going to court. On June 5, 2003, new regulations revised the USFS appeals process (Federal Register vol. 68, p. 33581) in ways that significantly reduce the public’s ability to administratively challenge USFS management decisions. USFS. 16 USC § 1612. More information: USFS appeals and litigation site, www.fs.fed.us/emc/applit/36cfr215.htm; review of new regulations at the Wilderness Society site, www.wilderness.org/OurIssues/Forests/reform.cfm.
Northwest Forest Plan (1994)
Also known as Option 9, a land management plan affecting national forests and BLM lands in WA, OR, and CA, developed as an ecological and economic compromise to the timber wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s concerning decreasing timber jobs and the listing of the northern spotted owl as endangered. Goals were to establish sustainable timber production and the protection of biological diversity, initiatives for providing assistance and job retraining to displaced timber workers and affected communities, and avenues of agency coordination and public input in decision making. Set aside designated use areas in the forests, most notably late-successional reserves, adaptive management areas, and matrix lands. USFS and BLM within the range of the northern spotted owl (five national forests in WA). The plan is not yet legislated. More information: Background, record of decision, guidelines, and current amendments and reviews, http://pnwin.nbii.gov/nwfp.shtml; current happenings: www.or.blm.gov/nwfpnepa.
Secure Rural Schools And Community
Self-Determination Act (2000)
Also know as the Payments to Counties Act, provides funding to rural counties with a high federal land base in lieu of taxes and timber sale receipts. Established eleven resource advisory committees (RACs) in WA (composed of industry, environmentalists, and local elected representatives) to allocate money for resource improvement/restoration projects, and sets aside funds for rural community institutions and services. Payments are issued to the state, which allocates funding to counties. PL 106-393. More information
: USFS RAC information, www.fs.fed.us/r6/RAClinks.htm
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