Groups claim agency can’t base planning on ecological sustainability
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Timber, ranching and off-road motorists are suing the U.S. Forest Service over a recently adopted national planning rule. The groups claim that the Forest Service illegally adopted ecological sustainability as a primary purpose of forest management, and that rule includes an unlawful mandate to provide ecosystem services.
Careful readers will hear the faint echoes of the paranoid black-helicopter crowd in the background, for example when the lawsuit mentions a UN-sponsored report that discusses forest ecosystem services such as carbon storage, along with “educational, aesthetic, spiritual and cultural heritage values.”
Conservation advocates want stronger protections for wildlife
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — With more than half the country’s 155 national forests operating under outdated management plans, the U.S. Forest Service is eager to start implementing a new planning rulethat was finalized March 23.
But like several previous attempts to revise the existing 1082 rule, this latest version may face a legal test. Now that the rule is final, the Center for Biological Diversity is evaluating whether to pursue a courtroom challenge, said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaign director for the organization.
McKinnon said his organization is scrutinizing the rule for compliance with the National Forest Management Act and will also take a close look at the biological opinion accompanying the rule to see if meets federal standards for protecting plants and wildlife.
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service today took a big step toward finalizing a new rule that will determine how the agency writes management plans for 155 forests spanning 193 million acres of public land.
According to the agency, the rule will cut red tape, reduce litigation and try to deliver tronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife — all while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities.
Future management of White River National Forest to be guided by outcome of current process
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is holding a series of meetings around the country to take input on a new rule that will determine how the agency develops management plans for individual national forests like the White River.
Those plans are critical for residents of areas like Summit County, where 80 percent of the land is managed by the Forest Service. One of the first in a series of meetings is being broadcast on the web starting at 5 p.m. Click here to watch the webcast live.
Early comments due on new national forest planning rule, with a Feb. 16 deadline. Sounds boring, but read on, this is critical for Summit County, with 80 percent national forest land that belongs to you
SUMMIT COUNTY — After federal courts thrice rejected federal initiatives to streamline the overall national forest planning process, the U.S. Forest Service is going back to the drawing board with a new, Web 2.0 initiative that includes an interactive planning blog to solicit real-time feedback.
The rule will determine how individual forests formulate their plans. At stake for Summit County residents is how they will be able to help shape the next plan for the White River National Forest. Generally, Forest Service policy requires updates every 15 years. The current version of the White River forest plan was adopted in 2002. The planning rule homepage is here.
About 80 percent of Summit County is national forest land. Critical issues include cleaning up after the pine beetle infestation and balancing recreation and natural resource conservation, including the critical need to maintain adequate wildlife habitat and water quality.
For example, during the last round of planning, the White River National Forest identified new areas to be considered for wilderness status, zoned big areas of the Tenmile Range and the mountains around Keystone for ski area development and identified some areas as wildlife movement corridors or as elk habitat.
Right now, the agency is in an early scoping phase for the new rule. Anyone can comment on what issues should be considered in the proposed rule and in the Environmental Impact Statement. The deadline for this phase is Feb. 16. Click this link to get information on how to comment. If you’re interested in participating in this process, it’s important to get involved at this first step. That will ensure you’ll be contacted about subsequent actions at every stage of the process.
The process has spurred a lively dialogue, with numerous forest planning blogs springing up around the web and offering alternate views. A New Century of Forest Planning is worth reading — especially this post — before making your own comments.