Advisory committee addresses Forest Service | TSLN.com

Advisory committee addresses Forest Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2013 – A first-of-its-kind independent advisory committee presented its recommendations for the implementation of the U.S. Forest Service's 2012 Planning Rule to U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Robert Bonnie and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell today, recommending strengthened collaboration, improved planning efficiencies and more effective and informed decision making.

Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna serves on the committee representing grazing and private land interests. Greg Schaefer, Gillette, represents the energy industry.

The Planning Rule Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) also made recommendations that strengthen ecological, social, economic and cultural sustainability objectives of the rule. This includes recommendations intended to deepen the level of stakeholder collaboration in forest planning, as well as recommendations regarding outreach, adaptive management, monitoring, wilderness, climate change, intergovernmental relations, species protection, and water resources.

The committee, formed in January 2012, advises the Secretary of Agriculture through the Chief of the Forest Service by providing advice and recommendations on the new rule and its directives. The proposed planning directives guide implementation of the planning rule which was published in the Federal Register in April 2012, and became effective a month later.

"The members of this committee collectively bring to the table a vast amount of knowledge, passion and interest in our national forests and grasslands," said Bonnie. "We thank this diverse group of members for their hard work in rolling up their sleeves to provide us recommendations on the 2012 Planning Rule. This committee further illustrates our commitment to an open and transparent planning rule and process for implementation.

"This committee worked long and hard through a host of difficult issues to present us with these recommendations to help us manage our public lands for the greatest good," Tidwell said. "The recommendations reinforce the importance of this Planning Rule and the role our national forests and grasslands serve for the American public – whether that be through recreation, clean water or supporting local economies."

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Commenting on the work of the committee to date, Magagna noted, "It has been a rewarding experience to see dedicated individual from diverse interests deliberate and find consensus on key components of the Planning Rule implementation. I am particularly pleased that we were able to strengthen the directives regarding the engagement of state and local governments in the planning process. The committee has also significantly elevated the level of consideration to be given to social, economic and cultural components in assessment and plan preparation."

The committee is comprised of 21 members with varied backgrounds, who represent the full range of public interests in management of the National Forest System lands and who also represent geographically diverse locations and communities.

All FACA meetings are open to the public, and all proceedings and relevant documents are posted online. The agency's planning rule website has the latest information on the committee, the planning rule and its directives.

–Wyo. Stockgrowers Assoc.