Speak Up for Wildlife!
By Dave Wiley, Oregon Mission Team Leader
When federal and state agencies prepare or revise land management plans or propose to implement projects, there is always an opportunity for public comment. This opportunity is required by law and is advertised by the agency in the local media, particularly in newspapers. You can also receive notice in the mail at your request. The agencies want and need your reasoned comments.
To receive notice by mail of planning actions and projects—called a Schedule of Proposed Actions—contact your local offices of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and state land and wildlife agencies and ask to have your name and address placed on their respective notification lists.
When notified of the opportunity to provide public comment on a Proposed Action, obtain a copy of the documents (the agency will tell you how) and read them. The types of actions you may want to comment on include management plan revisions, timber sales, prescribed burns, or other projects that can better provide for the habitat needs of elk and other wildlife.
As an RMEF volunteer, consider giving strong support for these issue areas:
- Using prescribed fire
- Combating noxious, invasive weeds
- Seeding with native, high-quality forage plants
- Maintaining or restoring healthy watersheds
- Thinning projects that restore winter range where appropriate
- Restoring and maintaining aspen stands
If you decide to comment, write a letter or send an email to the address provided by the agency. Written comments are strongest when you clearly connect your comments to a specific part of the agency’s written document using page number, chapter, section, etc. Make sure you get your comments in by the deadline.
Agencies also frequently hold public meetings about a Proposed Action. These meetings are good to attend, as the agency will always make an informative presentation of what they are planning to do and why they need to do it, and often they will take public comment. The time for each individual to speak is typically limited to 3-5 minutes. If you choose to speak on an issue, prepare your comments beforehand.
Remember, when you comment on a Proposed Action either in writing or in person, do it as a private citizen.
Every one of us has an opportunity—and an obligation—to speak up for wildlife. Make your voice heard.