U.S. Forest service proposes new planning rule
The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a new rule to guide land and resource management planning for all units of the National Forest System (NFS). The proposal, published in the Feb. 14, 2011 Federal Register, aims “to maintain, protect, and restore NFS lands while providing for sustainable multiple uses, including ecosystem services, so that NFS lands continuously provide ecosystem functions and contribute to social and economic sustainability.” The proposal is “collaborative and science-based.”
Some of the new features incorporated into this planning rule are an emphasis on climate change and a “landscape scale approach” that allows agency managers to consider conditions on lands outside NFS boundaries in their management decisions for NFS units.
The current Forest Service planning rule was enacted in 2000 and is generally considered very complex and largely unworkable. Two subsequent revisions (in 2005 and 2008) were overturned by the courts.
Comments are due on the proposed rule by May 16, 2011. The American Farm Bureau Federation will be filing comments. A “national roundtable” on the proposal will be held in Washington, D.C. on March 10. In addition, the Forest Service will hold a series of “regional roundtables” to solicit public input during March. One is tentatively scheduled for March 16 in Rapid City.
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