The Trump administration is attempting to reduce public control over logging sales on federal land, proposing to eliminate a 15-day protest period during which people can object to the Bureau of Land Management’s timber sales and forest management decisions. The bureau is also proposing to allow timber companies to work on wildfire-hit public lands without a formal environmental analysis.
An administration spokesperson insisted the public protest period was unnecessary because the public already has an opportunity to submit comments during the presale period. But this removal of opportunities for public dissent follows a pattern of ignoring what citizens have to say and makes the Trump administration even less accountable for its actions.
When the administration proposed to shrink national monuments, 2.7 million Americans submitted comments. Although the overwhelming majority opposed the notion of reducing the size of monuments, the administration went ahead and did it anyway. Public comments were almost uniformly opposed to Trump’s plan to limit the waterways granted federal protections, but the administration went ahead anyway. And the public comment period just closed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s radical proposal to limit the use of scientific studies in its work. Nearly all commenters opposed it. We have a pretty good hunch as to what the administration is going to do.
The Trump administration treats the public comment period as nothing but an inconvenience. The Center for Western Priorities found that in 10 different cases, 95 percent of public comments opposed the proposals of Trump’s Interior Department. In eight of those, the administration went ahead anyway. It should surprise no one that the Interior Department is seeking to reduce public input in logging sales.
Public lands are for the public, and there is no reason why logging companies can’t wait a measly 15 days to allow communities a chance to protect their forests. Taken together with the proposal to allow certain logging sales without proper environmental analysis, we can see the administration’s true motivation: to do a favor for the logging industry at the public’s expense.