MONTANA - Field Trips to Start Collaboration on Forest Plan Revision

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July 30, 2013 2:42 PM

MONTANA - Field Trips to Start Collaboration on Forest Plan Revision

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

The Flathead National Forest is embarking on a multi-year process to update its forest plan, the document that guides how the forest manages your public lands. The forest plan provides direction for managing resources and activities such as recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, historic and sacred sites, vegetation, mineral exploration and development, and timber.

The revision of the forest plan will be accomplished under the 2012 National Forest System land management planning rule. Forest plan revision is achieved in a three-phase process: assessment, revision, and monitoring.

During phase-one, the assessment, a Forest Service team will identify and evaluate existing information about ecological, economic, and social conditions and trends related to the Forest and northwest Montana. The resulting assessment will provide information for the next two phases (revision and monitoring).

Phase two, revision, includes the identification of the need to change the forest plan based on the assessment, development of a proposed plan, consideration of the environmental effects of the proposal, providing an opportunity to comment on the proposed plan, providing an opportunity to object before the proposal is approved, and finally, approval of the plan revision.

Phase three, monitoring, is continuous and provides feedback for the planning cycle by testing relevant assumptions, tracking relevant conditions over time, and measuring management effectiveness.

To start the collaborative process, the forest is holding four public field trips which will each focus on subject matter important to the forest plan. During these field trips the public is asked to share their values and the benefits they derive from the Flathead National Forest as well as provide input to help the forest staff accurately capture the current conditions on the forest as they pertain to the topic of the field trip. The trips will also be an opportunity to experience the distinct geographical areas that make up the ranger districts.

The Forest Service anticipate the trips to run from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM (except for August 29 which includes a stop at the Spotted Bear Ranger District with a 5:00 PM return). The trips will begin and end at the Flathead County Fairgrounds with transportation provided.

1. August 8 - Forest vegetation and disturbances including fire, timber harvest, and forest products (Tally Lake Ranger District)
    
2. August 29 - Recreation settings, opportunities and access, native knowledge, existing wilderness and scenic character (Hungry Horse/Spotted Bear Ranger Districts)
    
3. September 12 - Terrestrial and aquatic habitats, threatened and endangered species, species of conservation concern, and invasive species (Swan Lake Ranger District)
    
4. September 26 - Inventoried roadless areas, recommended wilderness, and wild and scenic rivers (Glacier View Ranger District)    

* Social science, economics, and the role and contributions of the Flathead National Forest will be a component of each of the field trips.

The information shared, and the feedback received, will be used to develop and finalize the assessment, determine needs for change, and to draft a proposed plan. There will be additional opportunities to engage in the collaborative process as the plan is developed over the next few years.

Please RSVP to Wade Muehlhof (ewmuehlhof@fs.fed.us or 406-758-5252) at least one week before the field trip(s) you plan to attend. Please let them know if you have any special accommodation needs. For additional details please visit the Flathead National Forest Plan Revision page on our website.

Thanks in advance and, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.

Ric Foster
Public Lands Department Manager
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 107 

 

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org
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