The USFS uses the definitions below when writing off all of the comments you submit on proposed actions during the NEPA process.
The following criteria are used to identify significant issues:
Screen 1: Issue or Non-issue
Issue: A point of disagreement, debate, or dispute with the proposed action based on an anticipated effect.
Non-issue: Non-issues are comments that do not identify a dispute with the proposed action based on some anticipated effect. Non-issues include general concerns, opinions, comments on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process used, and request for further information or other documents.
Screen 2: Non-significant or Significant Issues
Non-significant Issues: Issues are considered non-significant if they are (1) beyond the scope of the proposed action; (2) irrelevant to the decision to be made; (3) already decided by law, regulation, or policy; or (4)conjectural in nature or not supported by scientific evidence.
Significant Issues: Issues that go beyond the criteria for being identified as non-significant. Significant issues are used to formulate alternatives to the proposed action, prescribe mitigation measures, or analyze environmental effects.
Source: Salmon West Scoping Letter USFS File Code 1950, March 11, 2011