Forest Service:

Information on the Forest Service Appeals System

RCED-89-16BR: Published: Feb 16, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Forest Service's timber sales and forest plan appeals system, focusing on: (1) appeals frequency and processing times, and the appeals backlog; (2) the reasons for increases in the number of appeals; (3) whether appeals delayed timber sales in two regions; and (4) whether proposed regulatory changes to the appeals system might expedite appeals processing time.

GAO found that: (1) the number of Forest Service appeals filed annually nearly doubled in 5 years, increasing from 584 in 1983 to 1,298 in 1988; (2) the average appeals processing time increased from 201 days in fiscal year (FY) 1986 to 363 days in 1988; (3) the nationwide backlog of unresolved appeals grew from 64 in 1983 to 830 in FY 1988; (4) the Service's inability to resolve complex environmental issues hampered its efforts to eliminate the backlog; (5) from FY 1986 through FY 1987, about 6 percent of timber sales volumes in the two regions was appealed, 1 percent was delayed, and timber sales experienced no delays as a result of forest plan appeals; and (6) the Service's proposed regulatory changes to the appeals system might reduce the number of appeals and the average appeal processing time.

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