Forest Service Moving in the Wrong Direction

The Forest Service (USFS) issued a Record of Decision on July 21, 2017 to amend the George Washington and Monongahela National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans (Plan) to allow for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through 21 miles of pristine forest. Fortunately, there is still time to ‘object’ to this terrible decision – a comment period is open until September 5th for those that have previously intervened in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions (FERC) process for the ACP or who have officially commented to the USFS during earlier ACP related public comment periods. (Photo by The Pipeline Air Force)

The USFS draft decision proposes to:

  • Authorize the use and occupancy of National Forest System (NFS) lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
  • Amend the standards in the Plan to allow the construction and operation of the ACP to vary from certain restrictions on soil and riparian corridor conditions. Mitigation measures to protect soil and riparian areas would be required.
  • Allow the issuance of special use permits in northern long-eared bat habitat where applicable mitigation measures will be implemented.
  • Designate a 50-foot wide right-of-way. No utility corridor would be designated; therefore a Plan level amendment on the GWNF to allocate lands into a 5-C Designated Utility Corridor would not be needed.
  • Allow ACP to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) in Augusta County, VA at a location where existing impacts do not already exist.
  • Use an estimate of old growth trees impacted in lieu of completing a field inventory. The need to modify this standard is contingent on Atlantic completing an old growth survey of the ACP corridor.
  • Complete reconstruction of a Forest Road within a Management Prescription Area 2C3-Eligible Recreational Rivers to provide access for pipeline construction. The need to modify this standard is contingent on the final location of access roads.
  • Allow ACP a five-year period to perform mitigation to meet Forest Plan scenic integrity objectives for areas of high scenic value and other high use recreation areas, except for a short segment of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, where the scenic impact would be changed to Low.

To object to these proposed plans, you must be eligible as described above and must submit written comments making sure to do these things:

  • State your name, address and if possible a phone number;
  • Identify you are objecting to the Record of Decision (ROD) for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project through the George Washington and Monongahela Forests to Associate Deputy Chief Glen Casamassa;
  • Let the USFS know why this decision is terrible;
  • Connect your objection to your previous comments to FERC or the USFS, at least in a general way​;
  • Sign (scanned signature is okay) your objection.

Once you’ve checked those boxes you can get your comments to the USFS by:

  • Email:*
    Subject Line: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Decision Objection
    *if you are submitting your comments as an attachment, use plain text, rich text or Word formats (no .pdf)
  • Mail (USPS): **
    Objection Reviewing Officer
    USDA Forest Service
    Attn: Administrative Reviews
    1400 Independence Ave SW
    Mailstop #1104
    Washington, DC 20250
    ** Write on envelope: Re: Atlantic Coast Pipeline SUP and Plan Amendments
  • Mail (UPS/FedEx): **
    U.S. Forest Service
    Attn: Administrative Reviews (EMC/2nd Floor Central)
    201 14th Street SW
    Washington DC 20250
    ** Write on envelope: Re: Atlantic Coast Pipeline SUP and Plan Amendments
  • Fax: (202) 205-1012