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The Role of Economic Emergency Situation Determinations in Expediting Fire Salvage

October 2008

Citation: ELR 10741

Author: Melanie Stidham, Gwen Busby, and K. Norman Johnson

Editors' Summary: In 2003, the George W. Bush Administration expanded the definition of an emergency situation to include cases that may result in a "substantial loss of economic value to the Federal Government." During the last few years, the U.S. Forest Service has invoked this new provision to enable implementation of fire salvage decisions on the national forests without waiting for appeals of the projects to be resolved, and has generally won court cases challenging its interpretation. Thus, the provision changes the legal role of economic considerations in decisions on national forest lands. Previously, economic considerations certainly could influence the decisions of national forest managers. With the new regulations, however, economic considerations can override public participation processes, narrowing the power of the public to influence decisions on national forests.

Melanie Stidham is a Faculty Research Assistant at the College of Forestry, Oregon State University. Gwen Busby is an Assistant Professor at the College of Natural Resources, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. K. Norman Johnson is a University Distinguished Professor at the College of Forestry, Oregon State University.

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