A New Phase in the Planning Rule Development Process — Aug 2010

We’ve learned a tremendous amount through the input we’ve received on this blog and through the other public involvement we’ve had since the Notice of Intent (NOI) was issued last December.  We received over 26,000 written comments on the NOI, over 300 blog comments and have had over 40 public meetings attended by over 3000 people.  We’ve worked hard to get input from Tribes through our regional and national Tribal roundtables; from scientists through the science forum and scientists’ continued involvement throughout the roundtables; from Forest Service employees through various internal meetings; and from other federal agencies through the Federal Interagency Working Group.  We are striving to build a proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that reflect the diverse opinions and common themes that have emerged from the public involvement process. 

We’ve now entered a new phase of the rule development process.  We are currently finalizing the proposed rule and DEIS for clearance by the Department of Agriculture and Office of Management and Budget.  We expect the proposed rule and DEIS to be published in the Federal Register in early 2011 (see latest blog post for more details).

We are committed to keeping planning rule development open, transparent and participatory.  Please take advantage of the following opportunities to stay engaged over the coming months:

  • Sign up for the planning rule listserv to keep informed on progress and opportunities to participate along the way. If you haven’t already, please sign up here. 
  • Check back to the planning rule website for the latest information.
  • While we won’t be looking for additional blog comments on the rule substance until the proposed rule comes out in early 2011, the blog will continue to host discussions on what the public engagement process should look like when the proposed rule is released.
  • You can also follow the Forest Service on Twitter.

We will seek formal comment on the proposed rule and DEIS, and will hold additional public meetings when the proposed rule and DEIS are published in early 2011.

 Thank you again for your involvement in the rule development process.  Your continued participation in the process will be critical to its success.

6 Responses to “A New Phase in the Planning Rule Development Process — Aug 2010”
  1. I am a part of the outside public, and as an older person I believe that “natural” is best. The whole problem is man-caused damage to forests. Forests will manage on their own quite well if we don’t contribute to the problem. Even lightning induced wildfires are O.K..That is how forests have been renewing themselves for eons. I see the whole problem as man’s involvement.

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  2. Steven H. says:

    Unless I am missing something, the lack of comment in this blog is disappointing. There should be dozens of comments. Some news articles get hundreds of comments. The lack of activity is evidence that attempts at soliciting “outside” public involvement are falling short. This is nothing new, but it deserves our attention. Obviously, the Forest Service puts weight on involvement and it was more than happy to crow about the quantity of past responses. However, considering the dearth of comments here and the typical cross section of respondents, I believe that most input has come from people already plugged into the rule and appeal process. Again, it looks like an “inside” job. This “inside” activity dovetails into one commenter’s feelings of distrust and hopelessness since he joined this process late.

    I see Coordination as a way to improve involvement and to promote good will. Offer people the opportunity to collaborate. Develop more lines of communication. Tell people about projects as they are proposed; not as they are about to go into a 30 day comment period. Revamp your web sites to be more user friendly. Be upfront. Be proactive. If not, people will continue to litigate. The public is waking up to the power of Coordination. Rule makers would be wise to acknowledge this fact.

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    • Fotoware says:

      Part of the problem is the public’s changing opinions on forest management, Steven. Much of the public has seen the millions of acres of dead forests, the intense flames burning down forests on TV, and suffered the smell of smoke for weeks on end, from distant wildfires. The public is seeing that strict preservation hasn’t provided protection from overcrowding, drought, bark beetles and wildfires. Since the public knows little about site-specific restoration forestry, they quietly hope that their forests will be spared.

      The scope of the needed public education about forests is well beyond what a blog can do. Until the public is educated about the risks and hazards of “unstewardship”, we’ll be stuck in cycles of man-enhanced forest upheaval, affecting all on planet Earth. Is it wise to preserve unnatural forests?

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  3. Nick D. says:

    The USDA is no different from any other government agency as far as the need for transparency and you are definitely opening up new edicts of open-ness. Thank you for working to make the planning rule development transparent and participatory. We can only hope all government agencies follow.

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  4. As with the many changes occurring with in our government this change is one of the most damaging to the People who recreate. From the very first Planning Rule to the most recent one, it appears that the Planning Rules just can’t seem to get it correct. To many faults have gone uncorrected over the past and The People have paid the price with their recreation.

    The “New Planning Rule”, according to USDA – Forestry, will be improved. The problem with this is that the “improvements” are not to the best interest of The People. With the President signing the “Monument Bill” it is apparent that the “New Planning Rule” is to assist the “Monument Bill” and obliterate recreation all together.

    I am requesting that the USDA and USFS relinquish the information for which they will base the “New Planning Rule”. Relinquish any and all scientific findings and reports so ” I ” may make an educated decision when the extremely small thirty day Comment Period arrives.
    Such documents may be mailed to my address – below.

    Robert Brooks
    P. O. Box 5923
    Ocala, Fla. 34478

    Documents should be received by me no later than 72 hours of USDA – USFS announcing the Comment date.

    I appreciate your prompt response in this matter and look forward to assisting USDA-USFS in multiple ways in the very near future.


    Robert Brooks

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    • jcall says:

      Response from the Planning Rule Team:
      There will be a public comment period when the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) are issued in early 2011. The DEIS will contain detailed information on the anticipated environmental effects of the rule, and the preamble to the proposed rule will explain the rationale and intent of the proposed rule language. We have added you to our mailing list so that you will be notified when the proposed rule is relased, and you will receive a hard copy of the proposed rule and DEIS through the mail. Electronic copies will also be available at the planning rule website — http://fs.usda.gov/planningrule.

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