Author Topic: USFS Changing Management Planning Rule  (Read 2510 times)

Offline Pantheus

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USFS Changing Management Planning Rule
« on: January 29, 2010, 12:52:47 PM »
USFS Changing Management Planning Rule

Submitted by Royce Wood, American Motorcyclist Association

Opportunity for Public Comment Through February 16, 2010

In December, the USDA Forest Service announced that it would rewrite the national forest system land management-planning rule. The planning rule sets priorities and defines the process for the development and revision of site-specific management plans for every national forest or grassland.

The Forest Service has issued three planning rules since 2000 but two of them have been struck down by legal challenges and the 2000 rule has never been utilized because of its "complexity". In effect most current forest plans have been written under the planning rule of 1982.

The Forest Service raises a number of noteworthy concepts in the scoping document (Federal Register - December 18, 2009). Foremost being the concept of "restoration" which is heavily stressed but never defined. Nor does the document examine how making "restoration" a priority would affect recreation or other land uses. Rather the agency asks the public to provide comment on what "restoration" ought to mean. However, last August, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated publicly, "Restoration means managing forest lands first and foremost to protect our water resources, while making our forests more resilient to climate change."

Adaption to climate change and resiliency are frequently referenced in the document but it is left to the public to comment on how those concepts should be applied. Similarly the document suggests that local forest planners should not limit themselves to planning for National Forest Service land but should expand their efforts to include "all-lands" or whole watersheds.

Wrongly applied to local planning processes, many of the concepts raised in the scoping document could be very problematic for maintaining recreational access to public lands for a number of activities - including motorized recreation. The AMA strongly encourages off-highway vehicle enthusiasts to review the proposal and to provide written comment to the agency on the importance of recognizing recreational access in the forest planning process.

The Forest Service's Notice of Intent, background materials and information on how to comment are available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule. Comments will be accepted until February 16th.

The Forest Service expects to develop a proposed rule and a draft environmental impact statement by late fall 2010. The public will have additional comment opportunities at that time.
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