Author Topic: National Forest System Land Management Planning  (Read 3619 times)

Rick_Bear

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National Forest System Land Management Planning
« on: January 06, 2010, 05:15:00 pm »
On December 18, 2009, the Forest Service published in the Federal Register a notice of its intent to begin a process of preparing a "new Agency planning rule... to guide land managers in developing, amending, and revising land management plans for the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in the National Forest System (NFS)."

This is a big undertaking that could have a major impact on all types of recreation on Forest Service lands. We knew this was coming because last November, ARRA along with a number of other national OHV organizations, met with the new Chief of the Forest Service, Tom Tidwell. We, of course, discussed a number of issues with the new Chief including our ongoing concerns about the implementation of the Travel Management Rule and the need for adequate financial resources to manage and maintain a comprehensive OHV trail system for those National Forests that have completed the designation process.

During the course of our meeting, Chief Tidwell indicated that he would soon lead his agency through a new planning process. He emphasized to us that he hopes that all stakeholders, including OHV enthusiasts, concerned about the management of our National Forests will be engaged in this process. The first part of the process is to solicit views on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement that will be used to "analyze and disclose potential environmental consequences associated" with the development of the new planning rule.

In the very same edition of the Federal Register that the Forest Service announced its intention to begin the new planning process, it also announced that it was issuing a "final rule (for forest planning) to comply with a June 30, 2009, Federal District Court order that has the effect of reinstating the National Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning Rule of November 9, 2000, as amended (2000)."

I normally would not ask you to do this, but let me direct your attention to pages 67059-67062 of the Federal Register. The "supplementary information" explains how and why this latest action on the "final rule" became necessary. After reading this, you will wonder, as I do, how our land managers can manage our National Forests with the exception of fighting forest fires. And planning guidelines can even make that process difficult. I would think that Chief Tidwell has some trepidation about starting a new planning process given the torturous path of 2000 planning rule.

The comment period for the "new planning guidelines" scoping process ends on February 16, 2010. ARRA will soon be sending you information about this comment period in the event you decide you would like to share your views/interests with the Forest Service.

The Camel Has His Nose under the Tent
More regulation is coming down the pike and this time it is being brought to you under the auspices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It seems that EPA has an interest in combining land use planning with climate change issues. On the very last day of 2009, EPA announced a 30-day public comment period for the draft document called, "An Assessment of Decision-Making Processes: The Feasibility of Incorporating Climate Change Information into Land Protection Planning." If you have a lot of time and want to read the actual 237 page report, go to www.epa.gov/ncea

The draft report takes a snapshot review of the land use planning decision-making process at all levels of government. The agency uses the term "Land Protection Planning." I think it will be just a matter of time before EPA takes the "official" position that local, county, and state as well as the federal government must consider climate change criteria when determining the use of public lands. If park planners think they have a difficult job now, wait until EPA gets finished with them. Even though the Congress hasn't sent climate change legislation to the President for his signature, the federal bureaucracy is rapidly issuing directives making climate change issues the "flavor" of the day, week, month and year and perhaps, the decade.

I guess EPA is wishing us all a Happy New Year of more regulation and government control. This issue will continue to evolve, but it will eventually have a major impact on recreational access issues for public lands. We will do our best to keep you posted.


Posted On Behalf Of:
Larry E. Smith
Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access
Do Your Duty And History Will Do You Justice...!
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