What even is NEPA?

Hey EFTA friends! I am still reminiscing on the orientation week in New Mexico when I met so many of you! Since then, I began living and working in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. My RA position is an Environmental Planner and specifically, I am learning the ins and outs of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA). To be fully transparent, I still do not understand all the duties within this position or even how to write an Environmental Assessment but rest assured that by September I will (… hopefully). Though NEPA can appear daunting, I’ve been fortunate enough to have people teach me both the philosophy and logistics of the process. And I came up with some takeaways from NEPA, which I think everyone who plans to have a career with the USFS should take into consideration. So, without further ado please take a gander!

First Month NEPA Takeaways Through the lenses of Chase):   

  • DO NOT FEAR NEPA
One thing I’ve noticed so far is that a lot of people working within the agency do not fully understand NEPA. This may be attributed to the fact that it has multiple steps, involves reading, and essentially is a rule book. With that said, NEPA truly oversees every proposed action any forest wants to do and so it’s fundamental to understand it because…
  • NEPA HOLDS THE USFS ACCOUNTABLE
NEPA is for the people! This act was established in 1970 and makes sure that the public has a say in how we manage National Forests. The act also forces us to use rigorous science when making forest management decisions. That’s awesome!
  • NEPA IS ONLY AS STRONG AS YOU MAKE IT
Look, NEPA isn’t going anywhere. As mentioned, it’s been here since 1970 so why not learn to love it and use it to its fullest potential? NEPA keeps decisions rooted in science, but it also can promote collaboration between the USFS and diverse stakeholders. Anyway, thanks for stopping by my ted talk. Till next time! Chase
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