Proposed Rule Released: Continuing Engagement to Collaboratively Develop the Forest Service Planning Rule

A message from Forest Service Associate Chief Mary Wagner

The wait is over! The U.S. Forest Service unveiled its proposed Forest Planning Rule today. This proposed rule is the outcome of the most participatory planning rule development process in Forest Service history. Based on your feedback gathered online and during more than 40 public meetings hosted across the nation, we think we’ve crafted a proposed rule that reflects the public and Tribal input received so far, our expertise, current science, and regulatory requirements.  The proposed rule would establish a new national framework to develop land management plans that protect water and wildlife and promote vibrant communities. Now, we are seeking your comments on the proposed rule to help us develop a final rule that will have broad support and endure over time.

We developed the proposed rule through an open and transparent process. This effort was part of the Department’s Open Gov Plan, where we challenged ourselves to engage with key stakeholders in new and meaningful ways. As a part of this effort the Forest Service Planning Rule blog was launched in December 2009. Since then we have received more than 300 comments to the blog. We hope the blog will continue to serve as an open forum to share ideas, raise questions and engage in a national conversation about the proposed rule.

Part of the process to get from a “proposed rule” to a “final rule” is to provide the public an opportunity officially comment on our proposal.  Comments are also being sought on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that supports the proposed rule. Official comments on both documents can be submitted during the 90-day formal comment period which is open until May 16, 2011. While we hope you will engage with us on the Planning Rule Blog, remember these are not official comments. If you want to submit an official comment, check out our How To Comment page for more information.

To further encourage public participation we will host an open forum to discuss the proposed rule on March 10, 2011 in Washington, D.C.  The meeting will also be Web cast to promote national engagement and transparency for those not in the area. Additionally, there will be public forums held throughout the country – all the details can be found on our Planning Rule web page.

Forest Service land management plans guide management activities on the 155 National Forests and 20 Grasslands in the National Forest System.  The proposed planning rule provides a collaborative and science-based framework for creating land management plans that would support ecological sustainability and contribute to rural job opportunities.  The proposed rule includes new provisions to guide forest and watershed restoration and resilience, habitat protection, sustainable recreation, and management for multiple uses of the National Forest System, including timber.

Thanks for all of the help and input you’ve already provided and we look forward to hearing from you!

Comments
7 Responses to “Proposed Rule Released: Continuing Engagement to Collaboratively Develop the Forest Service Planning Rule”
  1. Jerry Gilmour says:

    The forest service is celebrating a new transparency, designed to bring “stakeholders” more into the process. In the McKenzie Bridge area of Oregon, the Forest Service is going ahead with a cutting project, in which it very discretely published a notice in a distant newspaper and proceeded to notify those people who knew to register themselves as recipients of information (stakeholders I think). They held a field trip with those folks and from there kept the project under wraps for 2 years. Not a sole in the community knew anything of the project, except a few FS insiders, until the cutting tract signs went up. This project may not be a bad project, it may be a good project but the entire town which the project closely surrounds was left unnotified. This project, entitled the Goose project, good or bad will have an impact on this community. If the FS is serious about being transparent, this project should be put on hold until the rank and file property owners (yeah, the real stakeholders) can be notified and have a real chance at offering input and challenge to the assertions made in the environmental assessment which was done internally. Jerry Gilmour

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Mike Barren says:

    As long as the proposed rule go well with all of the community and with nature, I think there should not be any problem regarding the law. And seeing the introductory section of the rule it seems it is good both for mankind and nature. So I welcome this positive rule.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. Melanie says:

    It seems it would be helpful if the Forest Service offered a series of 4 or 5 interactive sessions people could attend electronically to see if what they’re thinking they’re seeing in the rule is what the rule is really saying. For instance, one session might be on species diversity. Another on multiple uses. Another on how the process actually would work while developing a plan amendment or revision.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Mary O'Brien says:

    Here’s an interesting issue, I think. On p. 27 of the DEIS, while reviewing the 2000 NFMA Planning Rule, the FS writes, “In the 2000 rule, ecological sustainability is a new management standard and economic and social sustainability has secondary focus, whcih contravenes multiple use and sustained yield principles.”

    I find this an odd statement. It seems to say that if ecological sustainability is a standard, multiple uses would be prevented (contravened). If this is so, then the sentence must also be saying that multiple uses must be allowed to proceed even if they are not ecologically sustainable.

    The DEIS sentence seems to be the FS pursuing its dream claim that we can have all the multiple uses, sustain current/traditional economic arrangements, sustain current social habits/cultural arrangements, and be ecologically sustainable.

    Iwould hope the FS would honestly face the reality that ecological sustainability does have real limits, and that economic and social arrangements are what are more flexible and must change as we come up against those limits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Mary O'Brien says:

    The national and regional planning forums help people navigate through the various sections and ideas of the planning rule (though not much attention paid to the DEIS).

    It seems it would be helpful if the Forest Service offered a series of 4 or 5 interactive sessions people could attend electronically to see if what they’re thinking they’re seeing in the rule is what the rule is really saying. For instance, one session might be on species diversity. Another on multiple uses. Another on how the process actually would work while developing a plan amendment or revision.

    The FS person(s) present for the session wouldn’t be preparing a powerpoint or presentation – they would just be there to provide responses to a perception/question a person raised. A facilitator should be there to make sure no one dominates the session or to help prevent grandstanding.

    This process would help insure that comments come in based on what the proposed planning rule is really saying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Lynn Jungwirth says:

    HEY!!! I like this new planning reg. Its bold, comprehensive, and echos the reality of our times. Sure, we will all find pieces to improve (from out point of view), and that’s good. But all the pieces appear to be here, ready for the tweaking. Good job FS!

    Mostly I’m impressed that this framework moves us out of cop mode, into the governance mode. Shared responsibility makes for shared accountability. And it appears to recognize that all parts of our ecosystem (the environmental, the economic, and the social), influence each other and any attempt at maintaining resilience must have a means for harmonious blending of all three ..kinda like maintaining your balance on a rolling log in the middle of a river….

    As a citizen, I’m pretty interested in helping to operationalize this vision. Let’s try it, and see if it works!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Andy Stahl says:

    The big difference between the old (1982) rule and the new proposal is that the new eschews any pretense of “rational” economic planning. The old rule regarded the national forests as factories of goods and services from which planners could divine, with the help of linear programming models, an optimum allocation and schedule of harvests. Each output was assigned a value; each input was assigned a cost. When the model didn’t give the desired answer, planners tweaked the numbers. When the tweaks didn’t work, planners made-up the numbers.

    The edifice came crashing down in the late 1980s. A quarter-century later, the Forest Service is still digging itself out from under the rubble.

    The new rule replaces economic rationality with ecological rationality. The old gurus (e.g., Krutilla, Hyde, Clawson and Teeguarden) have been deposed by Soule, Ehrlich, MacArthur and Wilson. Leopold is the new God (is it coincidence that the Forest Service released this month a new Leopold biopic); Pinchot is history.

    Perhaps ecologically rational planning will be more successful. But I doubt it. The new forest planning process still pits bitter ideological enemies against each other with the Forest Service serving as self-interested arbiter. The modern-day critic will turn from deconstructing FORPLAN to deciphering HexSim. Every plan will be appealed and most will be litigated.

    Perhaps in another quarter-century the FS will abandon any pretense of rational comprehensive planning and consider the incremental, on-the-ground K.I.S.S. approach I suggested. I should live so long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1