Forest Service Releases Draft Planning Rule

Contact: Larry Smith, 202-336-5116

Thursday, February 10, 2011   

Forest Service Releases Draft Planning Rule

Draft Includes Much Greater Focus on Recreation, But Concerns Remain

Washington, D.C. – Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) is encouraged that the U.S. Forest Service has made an effort to incorporate the suggestions of ARRA, other motorized recreation groups, and the recreation community at large to recognize the importance of recreation in the new draft National Forest System (NFS) Land Management Planning Rule.  Larry E. Smith, Executive Director of ARRA, noted, “It is clear that the Forest Service heard our concerns about the need to elevate the status of recreation in this rule, but we need an opportunity to really review the fine print before we can draw any final conclusions.”

A summary attached to the draft explains the purpose of the rule.  “The proposed rule sets forth process and content requirements to guide the development, amendment, and revision of land management plans 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.” A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare the draft was issued late in 2009.  The NOI practically ignored recreation, which resulted in a massive effort by the recreation community to press the Forest Service to elevate recreation to a substantive principle.

Smith continued, “While we applaud the Forest Service for making an effort to include recreation, particularly as Americans make over 170 million visits to Forests and Grasslands every year, we frankly can’t understand how the Agency missed this in the first place.”

Smith also voiced some other potential issues with the draft.  “In addition to our concerns with the original Notice of Intent giving short shrift to recreation we have expressed concerns with the Agency’s focus on managing for climate change, the “all-lands” approach, and managing at the landscape level, along with other issues.  This is a 50-page document that could alter the way our National Forests are managed far into the future, so it will take some time to fully understand all the details.”

We look forward to working with the Forest Service as it continues the process of the development of this rule,” concluded Smith.

Based in Washington, D.C., Americans for Responsible Recreational Access represents the interests of millions of Americans who enjoy the great outdoors and who believe public lands and waterways should remain open for recreational pursuits.  Check out its web site at www.arra-access.com

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