New Forest Planning Rule Home Page - UPDATED 08.14.12
Two months ago, BRC blasted a nationwide alert concerning a new regulation proposed by the U.S. Forest Service that would waive required environmental analysis and public involvement for a wide range of activities described as "restoration." Among those activities are road and trail obliteration. Read our original blast here: BlueRibbon Coalition Criticizes U.S. Forest Service Proposed Rule http://www.sharetrails.org/news/2012/06/13/blueribbon-coalition-criticiz... In that alert, we noted: "Many travel planning projects we are
BRC Media Release: August 14, 2012 Recreation Groups Join Efforts to Challenge USFS Planning Regulations
POCATELLO, IDAHO (August 14, 2012) -- Recreation advocates yesterday joined with several other organizations in a legal challenge to new forest planning regulations promulgated by the U.S. Forest Service.
The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) and the California Association of 4Wheel Drive Clubs (Cal 4 Wheel) joined forces with the other forest product and multiple use groups in filing a lawsuit to require the Forest Service to modify its new planning rule to avoid its devastating impacts on the health of National Forests, recreational uses of the forests and communities located nearby.
The U.S. Forest Service formally adopted new National Forest Planning rules on April 9, 2012. The new regulations shift the agency away from a jobs and ecosystem approach. Instead, the planning rule would cement the National Forests into endless litigation over single species management; an approach that even the agency admits has failed repeatedly in the last three decades.
The complaint takes the Forest Service to task for elevating species viability, ecological sustainability, and ecosystem services as mandatory national forest management objectives, above the five statutorily prescribed multiple uses: outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes. It also admonishes the Forest Service for requiring recreational opportunities to fit the agency's definition of "sustainable" in order to be allowed on national forest lands.
Greg Mumm, BRC's Executive Director said; "The new planning rules are actually more complex, costly, and procedurally burdensome than the regulations they replace. The agency has utterly failed to meet the guidelines of President Obama's directive calling for regulations to be cost effective, less burdensome, and more flexible. As written, this rule will tie the hands of forest managers and allow preservationists groups to bury any active management in endless litigation."
Mark Cave, President of Cal 4 Wheel expressed concern that the new regulations shift the Forest Service away from multiple use/sustained yield and impose a binding requirement for "ecological sustainability," which the agency doesn't define clearly. "The new rules are a recipe for analysis paralysis. It doesn't take any clairvoyance to predict never ending challenge from the environmental community." Cave said. .
"The wood products industry tried very hard to convince the Forest Service that these new rules work against forest health and jobs, both of which are vital to rural economies. We commented at every stage in the process. These rules ignore the multiple use mandate given to the agency by Congress. Instead, they focus on single species preservation," said Howard Hedstrom, President of Hedstrom Lumber in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and President of the Federal Forest Resource Coalition. "Going to court against the Forest Service was the last thing on our minds when we launched this coalition last year, but with the impact on jobs that will be caused by the planning rules, we had no other choice."
Parties in the lawsuit include: The Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Alaska Forestry Association, American Forest Resource Coalition, American Sheep Industry Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, California Forestry Association, Minnesota Forest Industries, Minnesota Timber Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Public Lands Council, and Resource Development Council for Alaska.
BRC National Action Alert: August 13, 2012 NATIONAL: USFS Rule Allows Road Obliteration Without Public Involvement Action Item Included
Two months ago, BRC blasted a nationwide alert concerning a new regulation proposed by the U.S. Forest Service that would waive required environmental analysis and public involvement for a wide range of activities described as "restoration." Among those activities are road and trail obliteration.
"Many travel planning projects we are aware of have been amended within one or two years after completion, and many have been amended even before the plan has been completely implemented on the ground." It is quite likely that routes proposed for decommissioning will be necessary additions in future recreation and travel planning. Hawthorne said the fact the agency doesn't want any public involvement means the agency probably doesn't care about any potential recreational uses of these routes.
Motorized recreationists were repeatedly reassured throughout the implementation of the Travel Management Rule that initial MVUMs were a "starting point" and that ultimately motorized trail systems on Forests would evolve over time, as MVUMs would be reviewed annually with opportunities for expansion of trails open to motorized use.
BRC strongly encourages everyone who enjoys recreating on our National Forests to provide comments to the proposed rule via the agency's regulations comment webpage.
We've provided a few comment suggestions below. All comments, including names and addresses, are placed in the record and will be available for public inspection and copying. The comment deadline is midnight tonight, August 13, 2012, so please do it now!
Thank you in advance for your involvement. We'll keep you updated on this and other important issues via our Action Alert list. (Hint: Tell your friends and family to subscribe!)
Finally, as always, please call or email if you have any questions or comments. Brian Hawthorne Public Lands Policy Director BlueRibbon Coalition 208-237-1008 ext 102
BRC ACTION ITEM Comment on USFS Rule Allowing Road and Trail Obliteration (Review BRC's Official Comments here)
1. Click here, fill out the information required. 2. Paste the comments below in the comment area 3. Add any additional information you wish to make 4. Rest easy, knowing you are part of the solution!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR INVOLVEMENT!
I strongly encourage the agency to reevaluate the effort and incorporate a robust public involvement provision.
The agency must identify ground disturbing activities that cannot be lawfully exempted from environmental analysis.
Motorized recreationists were repeatedly reassured throughout the implementation of the Travel Management Rule that initial Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) were a "starting point" and that ultimately motorized trail systems on Forests would evolve over time, as MVUMs would be reviewed annually with opportunities for expansion of trails open to motorized use. In some cases Forest officials made it clear to off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts that some existing roads and trails would be left off of initial MVUMs but would receive further consideration as the trail system matured and annual revisions were considered.
How will the USFS evaluate potential motorized recreational uses of "non-system" roads and trails that are proposed for decommissioning?
"Non-system" roads and trails may be off limits to the motorized community as a result of the MVUM, but they may still be open to other recreational uses, including mountain bike and equestrian use. Yet the proposed rule would allow a Categorical Exclusion to be used to obliterate these routes.
How will the USFS evaluate potential non-motorized recreational uses of "non-system" roads and trails that are proposed for decommissioning?
BRC National Land Use Update: February 14, 2011 Forest Services Releases Draft of Proposed New Forest Planning Rule
The U.S. Forest Service has released the Draft of the new Forest Planning Rule which governs how the agency develops Forest Plans. The agency announced last Friday that the publication of the Draft Rule today, February 14, 2011, will kick off the 90-day public comment period ending May 16, 2011. The USFS press release is here.
The "Final" Draft Rule was published in today's Federal Register. The Draft Rule and other information is available on the USFS Planning Rule "web portal" here.
The agency has yet to release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement associated with the Draft Rule. The Forest Service has not indicated when that would be available.
The proposed Planning Rule is lengthy and follows decades of controversy and litigation over similar efforts. BRC will be carefully reviewing the Draft Rule and other information as the agency makes it available. We will have analysis of the Rule and its potential impacts on recreation.
The Agency is hosting a national public forum to discuss the proposed rule on March 10, 2011, in Washington DC. The meeting is open to the public and will be Web cast to allow for greater participation. There will be additional public forums held throughout the country during the comment period. (See schedule below.)
DRAFT Schedule of 2011 Public Meetings for the Forest Service Proposed Planning Rule Information for the meetings is subject to change, and any missing information will be updated as it is confirmed.
BRC National Land Use Update: September 16, 2010 U.S. Forest Service Planning Regulations
The U.S. Forest Service (FS) is beginning the process of revising their regulations that govern how the agency prepares Forest Plans. Known as the "Planning Rule," these regulations will be the driving force behind how the agency develops, amends and revises their Land Use Plans.
Federal agencies formulate these regulations (Code of Federal Regulation) through an administrative process known as rule-making. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service Planning Rule is in the early stages of the rule-making process. The agency expects to have a Draft Rule out by end of 2010.
Our post public-involvement update is, sadly, to report that despite the refreshingly honest admission of its problems (the agency says its existing planning regulations are costly, complex, and procedurally burdensome), our fear is that we are still well on the road to increase the same bureaucratic complexity that created those problems in the first place.
Product vs. Process In BRC's comments, we cautioned the agency to focus on the process of revising Forest Plans, not to make this about the Forest Plan itself. Regulations about Forest Planning should focus on how to create a Forest Plan and what level of environmental analysis is appropriate. Planning regulations need to be about how to formulate plans and NOT what the plans will contain.
We saw early on the USFS begin to stray far from that core purpose, and BRC, as well as many other stakeholders, cautioned them not to create new, undefined goals and criteria which will exacerbate, not resolve, the current planning gridlock. In our comments, we urged the Forest Service to steer this effort back to its necessary focus: 1) to fill the current regulatory void; and 2) to redouble proper focus on the primary goals of efficiency and expediency in the Forest Planning process.
Recreation, Roundtables, and the New Planning Rule Seven months ago, after the end of the formal comment period, the agency initiated a collaborative effort to address some of the critiques people were making on its rulemaking. Credible facilitating firms were hired to bring in all the stakeholders in order to fully understand the issues. Responding to harsh criticism from BRC, and other national recreation groups, that the process initially ignored recreation, Greg Mumm, BRC's Executive Director, was asked to sit on a key panel on which he provided specific input to the team that is actually writing the Rule. BRC members and staff also participated in several "roundtables" held across the country. Local governments and other stakeholders participated in the roundtable effort as well.
Was it worth sitting through all those "breakout sessions"? Truthfully, we won't know if the outreach worked until the Draft Planning Rule is released for public review. Access advocates understand that the agency could ignore all of the input and it would be completely legal. We don't want to get into the details of the reason why here, but when giving input in any rulemaking, there are only two or three options that are legally relevant. Of all of the tens of thousands of letters, transcripts, notes, power point presentations, diagrams and blog posts, the only thing that legally matters is the response to comments submitted during the formal comment period.
Still, the agency has released results of the public involvement so we will dutifully provide our members with our review.
The USFS released a draft planning framework that consists of a three-part planning cycle: 1) Assess, 2) Revise/Amend, 3) Monitor. These are well understood concepts of adaptive management and are appropriate at this stage in the process.
The FS also released eight "Draft Approaches" for issues raised during the public involvement. The eight issues are: Climate Change, Watershed Health, Recreation, People and Environment, Resilience, Monitoring and Evaluation, Collaboration, and something they call the All-Lands Approach.
The documents describing the "Draft Approaches" are available HERE and they aren't long or overly complicated, so please take a quick look.
An electronic version of the Fourth and final Roundtable can be found HERE. (Note: this one is a bit lengthy, but does give a pretty good overview of the suggested direction from the planning team, complete with commentary that is fairly enlightening.)
Ongoing action in the short term... While the Notice of Intent virtually ignored recreation, throughout the initial public comment period and in the roundtable sessions, BRC and other national recreation organizations brought this oversight to the attention of the planning team. In turn, Forest Service officials assured the recreation community that they "heard" those concerns and that recreation would be a priority. However, based on an overview of the New Rule parameters as shared by officials at the fourth roundtable, there is still a widespread concern among recreation organizations with the direction the Forest Service is taking with the new Planning Rule, especially in regard to recreation.
The BlueRibbon Coalition is currently actively partnering with a large and diverse group of recreation organizations to ensure recreation receives appropriate consideration in the new rule. The message is clear. Recreation is a key use of our National Forests and a primary contributor to the economic well being of communities adjacent to and dependent on our National Forest System. Among other things, the Forest Service needs to be more proactive in managing recreation and in seeking partners able to assist and enhance management for recreation--including organized recreationists. We are joining forces to make it clear that the Planning Rule acknowledges that the Forest Service has a legal responsibility to enhance recreational activities in national forests and, further, that the agency must seek to use management to resolve competition among recreation interests.
See the letter the partner groups sent to the Chief of the Forest Service HERE.
The long haul... BRC is continuing to partner collectively with other national recreation groups to ensure recreation is a key tenet in the new rule. In a broader sense, we continue to be very concerned with the clear deviation from the Congressional policy mandates of Multiple Use/Sustained Yield in what we have seen so far. However, we're not likely to put a lot of effort into additional comments on the balance of these "approaches" prior to the release of the Draft Rule.
The Draft is scheduled to be out soon and we want to stress the importance of our members and supporters staying with us for the long haul. Upon the release of the Draft Rule, BRC is going to need our members to provide public and political pressure to move the agency back to reality, and/or support the good parts of the Draft. We also anticipate that we will need to reach out to Capitol Hill, the media and others to help make certain that the new Planning Rule - which is likely to shape forest plans for decades to come - is fair to our members.
We also want to thank our members and supporters. Our efforts thus far have been made possible by your memberships and donations. Your support is critical for BRC to continue our involvement.
IMPORTANT LAND USE ADVISORY: March 26, 2010
USFS PLANNING RULE MEETINGS ANNOUNCED
Executive Summary: Below is an update on the U.S. Forest Service revision of its rules and regulations for amending Forest Plans. The agency has said it is committed to a open collaborative approach, and has announced several national and regional meetings.
After reviewing the agendas for the meetings, BRC believes there is good reason for the recreating public to be concerned about the direction the agency is proceeding. We discuss these concerns below, as well as provide information and links to the meetings.
This issue is of sufficient importance that we hope you will take some time to review the information, but if you want to skip it, or leave it for later, and go straight to the action item click here.
As always, please call or email if you have any concerns or questions. Brian Hawthorne Public Lands Policy Director, BlueRibbon Coalition 208-237-1008 ext 102
BRC NATIONAL LAND USE ADVISORY: March 26, 2010 USFS PLANNING RULE MEETINGS ANNOUNCED
We're collaboratin' now!
The U.S. Forest Service (FS) is beginning the process of revising their regulations that govern how the agency prepares Forest Plans. Known as the "Planning Rule." These regulations will be the driving force behind how the agency develops, amends and revises their Land Use Plans.. The FS has recently closed a formal comment period on a proposed action that includes several so-called "Principles" that will guide the new regulations.
The FS partnered with the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, and they have been working to develop a collaboration strategy for the ongoing development of the new planning rule. As part of that effort, Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced a series of events to provide additional opportunities for "public discussion." Events include a series of meetings, including a national science forum, three national roundtables and nine regional roundtables.
In a news release, the agency stated:
"The Forest Service is committed to developing a new planning rule that endures over time. We believe a transparent and participatory method is the best way to accomplish this. We'll be working hard to gather input collaboratively throughout the development of a new planning rule."
Now, I think that is an excellent statement, and I would wholeheartedly support a true collaborative approach. But the science forum and the current agendas for the regional roundtables evoke concern.
The Little Principles that WILL
During the recently closed formal comment period, the UFSF stated:
To begin the conversation, the Forest Service has included in the NOI a set of potential principles that could guide development of a new planning rule. We are seeking public input on the potential principles and on specific associated questions. We are also asking for input on possible principles or issues not mentioned in the NOI.
Many interested parties, including BRC, believe the "set of potential principles that could" were significantly flawed and didn't solve any of problems with the current Planning Rule. Some of the "principles that could," such as this "all lands" concept, where the USFS would attempt to influence activities on privately owned land, were vehemently opposed by many key stakeholders.
Many concerned stakeholders believe the agency needs to re-evaluate its process. BRC believes the existing "principles" threaten to create new, undefined goals and criteria which will exacerbate, not resolve, the planning gridlock accelerating through the agency. It is sadly ironic that the Planning Rule is supposedly designed to reduce such gridlock.
BRC was among many urging the FS to steer this effort back to its necessary focus: (1) to fill the current regulatory void; and (2) to redouble proper focus on the primary goals of efficiency and expediency in the Forest planning process.
Those comments have been received by the agency and are supposedly being analyzed, but upon review of the science forum and roundtable agendas, it doesn't look like our message has gotten through.
I would love to give these folks the benefit of the doubt, but it looks like the "principles that could" are trying to be the principles that WILL.
If you put me in another breakout group my head will explode!
Here is a quick low-down on the agency's meetings and agendas. The Science Forum is scheduled for March 29 and 30, 2010, in Washington, DC. According to the FS website, the Science Forum is:
Panels of scientists will present the latest science on topics relevant to the development of the planning rule. The key themes from the science forum will help frame the collaborative discussions at the regional and national roundtables that will follow.
If you've read the agenda, you might agree with me that a much more colorful description could be used!!
Don't get me wrong. This stuff is important and could meaningfully impact FS planning. But it is reasonable to assume that most of this will result in further movement away from the agency's multiple use/sustained yield mission, and probably a whole lot more 'analysis paralysis.' BRC's "Concern-O-Meter" is at a fairly high level at this point, so at least one BRC staff member and/or contractor will be at the forums.. Ditto for the national and many of the regional roundtables as well. (Your membership makes that possible, by the way... thanks!)
There are three National Roundtables scheduled, April 1 - 2, April 20 - 21, and May 11 - 12, 2010, in Washington, DC. The stated purpose for the first is to "solicit focused input on how the planning rule should address restoration, climate change, watershed health and biodiversity," which are the agency's priorities identified in the NOI. The second meeting purportedly will discuss "social, economic and cultural contribution of National Forest System lands to surrounding communities; provide for effective collaboration; consider the relationship between national forests and surrounding lands; and use the latest in planning science."
I'm going to assume the second meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss the need to re-evaluate this process, the trend away from multiple use and how the agency intends to address this key issue in the rulemaking process, not to mention the need for a focus on recreation. The third meeting will "allow stakeholders to discuss and build upon the synthesized results from the Science Forum and the preceding national and regional roundtables."
Based on conversations with the outfit running the national roundtable, I think my assumption about the second meeting above is safe. Not all collaborative planning facilitators are bad, and to the FS's credit, they have contracted with a group that is on the National Roster of ECR Practitioners.
Some will then say that I'm being overly paranoid by express concern. Before you pronounce me guilty, let's look at the agendas for the regional roundtables.
The agenda for Region 5's roundtables (California) is of particular concern. As of this writing, the agenda is one sentence long: "Discuss Planning Rule Principles and Concerns to Submit to the National Planning Rule Revision Team."
The agenda for Region 10 (Alaska) is even worse. They have a detailed agenda, but, like Region 5, the focus is exclusively on the agency's principles. Things might change, but it doesn't look like there will be any opportunity to discuss other issues. That's collaboratin', Forest Service style!
The roundtable for Region 1 (N. Idaho and Montana) will allow some discussion on "what is working well and what isn't ," and they will touch on a topic called "Plan Content" that, while wasn't a principle the agency identified, was discussed in background information and alluded to in the NOI. (Plan Content is defined by the agency as "the kind of information that should be included in plans and whether or not to include standards and guidelines.")
The agendas for Region 2 (Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and both Dakota's) and Region 4 (S Idaho and Utah) looks a bit more interesting, and these meetings look a lot more open to recieving actual public input. Also, Regions 2 and 4 will have a "Brief panel by a diversity of participants on what they hope to see and not see in the new draft rule for planning."
Region 8's (Southern US, from Texas eastward) meetings looks positively trendy. According to their agenda, they will break everyone into groups and begin with a "small group dialog allowing each participant to state the 1 most important thing they'd like to see in the new rule." Then, after lunch, they will... well, I'll just quote the agenda here:
Using "world caf‚" discussion format, participants rotate in small groups among 4 stations every 25 minutes; each station elicits input on subset of NOI planning principles; additional, unstaffed station accepts written suggestions all day on anything else related to planning principles. Groups will continue to rotate through stations every 20-25 minutes until all participants have had a chance to provide comments at each station. Current plan is that principles will be allocated across stations as follows: (1) Ecosystem Restoration; Climate Change; Watersheds Station; (2) Species Diversity; (3) Vibrant Rural Economies; (4) Process Principles. Focal question is, "How, if at all, should new planning rule reflect this / these principles?"
Now, I should admit that I'm a fan of true collaborative planning, and I will also admit that is somewhat of a character flaw (I'm working on it), but even I know a sham collaboration when I see it.
I bet Region 8 provides the best lunch though!
As of this writing, no agendas have been made available for Region 3 (Arizona and New Mexico), Region 6 (Washington State and Oregon) and Region 9 (Eastern US). (The full meeting schedule is available here.)
What you need to do
The regional roundtables will provide the best opportunity for recreationists to influence the process. We encourage our members to register and attend, and I'll raise that to a "strongly encourage" for any land use officers or others that are active in FS planning and management.
I need to give the disclaimer that much of this information appears to be in flux. I began writing this update on Tuesday, and the information, agendas and meeting locations on the FS website have been changing on almost a daily basis. We strongly recommend checking the FS websites often for changes and updated agenda's. (See links below.)
You do have to register for the roundtables, which appears to be relatively easy. The agency's websites are a bit hard to navigate, but they are updated often and they should be able to get it all together before long. You can register for Region 2 and 4's roundtables here. For other regions click the "View other USDA Forest Service events" link on the right to find out how to register for the other Regions..
If you decide to go to the roundtables, BRC strongly recommends reviewing our formal comments. Our comments will give you some ideas on what points you might make during discussion of the principles, as well as additional concerns you might want to raise (if that is possible). We posted them on a webpage for easy viewing. Please feel free to cut, paste and/or link to these comments as you see fit.
We will have more comments and plan to have additional info on the meetings as they draw near. So stay tuned.
I don't want my head to explode, but I want to help. What can I do?
We also have an ACTION ITEM prepared for those who can't make it to the meetings and still want to do something to help.
It involves contacting your Congressional Representatives, and I know you think that's all I ever ask our members to do, and I also know that some of our political representatives aren't listening on these land use issues, but Congress has a very important oversight role to play, and they need to hear from YOU!
This is very important for members in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. That's because you have representatives that are on the committees overseeing the Department of Agriculture and the FS. They need to know your concerns now before the process gets really moving.
Dates, links and a LOT more info is below. As always, call or email if questions.
Brian Hawthorne Public Lands Policy Director, BlueRibbon Coalition 208-237-1008 ext 102
PS. I need to mention that memberships and donations from individual OHV enthusiasts give us the resources needed to represent your interests in this important planning process. Everyone at BRC is profoundly grateful to our members and supporters. Membership is our lifeblood!
INFO ON FS PLANNING RULE COLLABORATIVE MEETINGS:
National Science Forum March 29 and 30, 2010, in Washington, DC.
National roundtables April 1 and 2, April 20 and 21, and May 11 and 12, 2010, in Washington, DC.
Nine regional roundtables in the following locations:
Pacific Northwest Region (Region 6), Portland, OR, on April 6, 2010;
Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5),Sacramento, CA, on April 6, 2010;
Intermountain Region (Region 4), Salt Lake City, UT, on April 8, 2010;
Rocky Mountain Region, (Region 2), Lakewood, CO, on April 12, 2010;
Northern Region (Region 1), Missoula, MT, on April 13, 2010;
Alaska Region (Region 10), Juneau, AK, on April 13, 2010;
Southern Region (Region 8), Atlanta, GA, during the week of April 12, 2010 (exact date to be determined);
Eastern Region (Region 9), Chicago, IL, during the week of April 28 (exact date to be determined); and
Southwestern Region (Region 3), Albuquerque, NM, on April 28, 2010.
Region 2 will host additional meetings on April 14 in Cheyenne, WY, and on April 21 meeting in Rapid City, SD.
Register for all but Region 3, 6 and 9's Regional Roundtables here.
Webcasting Webcasting may also be available for selected meetings; please check the planning rule website, at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule, for the most up-to-date information.
FS Planning Rule Blog To encourage widespread participation the Forest Service is using new media tools in conjunction with the public meetings. Please visit http://blogs.usda.gov/usdablogs/planningrule to participate in the Forest Service web-based planning rule blog.
Our advice? Skip the FS blog. Another blog has interesting and useful discussion, and it also has the bios posted for those participating on the Science Forum. See: A New Century of Forest Planning http://ncfp.wordpress.com/
Note: This is NOT the official FS blog for the new planning rule. A New Century of Forest Planning is a collaborative effort between the University of Montana and the Forest Service. The intent is to provide a forum where different academic communities (social, physical and biological disciplines, law, policy), practitioners of planning, and participants in planning processes can come together to share perspectives on forest planning. The opinions expressed by those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the University of Montana nor the U.S. Forest Service.
The Department has not made any decisions as to the content of a new rule. We intend this process to be collaborative, transparent, and participatory. Issuing an NOI ensures that the public is involved at the ground level.