Author Topic: Draft Rule Would Almost Certainly be Used to Limit Access  (Read 1860 times)

Offline Pantheus

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Draft Rule Would Almost Certainly be Used to Limit Access
« on: May 06, 2011, 06:36:07 AM »
Earlier this week ARRA sent you an alert about a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to address the Forest Service’s proposed Land Management Planning Rule.  ARRA’s partner from the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Jack Terrell, testified at the hearing about problems with the draft that will limit access.  Now it is your turn to weigh in on the rule. Please follow the instructions below to send comments to the Forest Service.

As you may know, ARRA and other OHV organizations are concerned that the draft rule is overly burdensome, costly and leaves too many key terms and phrases undefined.  The rule, if finalized as drafted, would be a litigation magnet and do little to end the decades-long effort to craft a planning rule that will stand the test of time – and courts.  Further, while the Forest Service responded to requests from the recreation community to include recreation in the draft rule, the proposed rule clearly provides that preservation trumps social and economic factors, including recreation, contradicting the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act, the statute that authorizes many Forest activities.

Further, a broad-based coalition of Forest users sent a letter requesting an extension of the deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule.  The Forest Service declined this request despite the fact that the Forest Service asked a third party to conduct an external science review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that accompanies the proposed rule that was not released to the public until April 21, 2011.  Stakeholders simply need more time to review the draft rule, the DEIS and the science review to make informed comments and recommendations.

Fortunately, Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Chairman, House Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry asked the Forest Service to reconsider its decision to deny the extension at the hearing on May 5th.

To submit comments visit go to the public participation portal by clicking:

http://www.govcomments.com/ProjectInformation.aspx?a=25&b=20800.

Once there, click “submit comments” to enter your information and comments.  Draft comments to cut and paste into the form are below.

Comments on proposed rule:

As a recreationist I am concerned that the proposed Land Management Planning Rule will be burdensome, costly and leave too many key terms and phrases undefined.  The rule, if finalized as drafted, would invite litigation and do little to end the decades-long effort to craft a planning rule that will stand the test of time – and courts.  Further, while the Forest Service responded to requests from the recreation community to include recreation in the draft rule, the proposed rule clearly provides that preservation trumps social and economic factors, including recreation, contradicting the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, the statute that authorizes many Forest activities.

I am also concerned that expanding the “viable populations” provisions to include invertebrates will prove impossible to implement and ultimately lead to further restrictions to access.  The “viable populations” provisions of the 1982 rule have proven difficult to implement and a magnet for litigation.  Please remove these provisions before finalizing the rule.

The issues listed above, among others, leave me concerned that recreation will be limited as a result of the rule, both because of specific rule provisions, and because resultant litigation will be brought by anti-access organizations who will use the courts to interpret the many ambiguities in the draft.

Anyone who recreates on our National Forests has a vested interest in the implementation of a successful planning rule.  I am concerned that proposed rule would limit recreation and become mired in legal challenges and as a result I encourage you to vastly rework the draft before finalizing the rule.  I also join with Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry Chairman Glenn Thompson in encouraging you to reconsider your decision not to extend the comment period for an additional 90 days.  This is too important and the issues too complex for the public not to have ample time to thoughtfully consider, and comment on, the proposed sweeping changes.

Thank you.
K6KLK

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