Effective Engagement: Making Your Voice Count

Engaging the public is a critical element of NEPA and the Forest Service’s travel management process. Understanding how people feel about land use, resources, values, and a proposed undertaking is accomplished in the NEPA process through providing comments. Making your voice heard is most easily accomplished by providing a federal agency with substantive comments that are clear, concise and specific, rather than vague statements of opinion. What follows is a summary of best practices for submitting substantive comments on a proposed action—in this case, considering what routes on the PSI should be open to motorized vehicle traffic.

Best Practices for Substantive Comments

  • Get involved early and throughout the process so the agency will incorporate your concerns into the final decision
  • State your case—explain who you are, what your relationship is to the undertaking or proposed action, and how it might affect your use of federal lands or resources
  • Start on a good note by identifying the positive elements of the proposed action
  • Clearly identify problems with the proposed action and offer potential solutions
  • Identify the beneficial components in each alternative, particularly those that are common to, or should be common to, all alternatives
  • Suggest reasonable alternatives that have yet to be identified or elements that could incorporated into existing alternatives
  • Support your arguments with verifiable information or data from reputable sources
  • If available, provide the latest scientific research relevant to the undertaking
  • Identify gaps in the proposed analyses, methodology, or assumptions put forward in the NEPA documents
  • Link your specific comments to maps or other location information that explains where and how you use the relevant routes or land under consideration