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Forest Service Planning Directives Reflect Thoughtful Collaboration

Below is a press release from The Wilderness Society congratulating the U.S. Forest Service on completing directives to implement the 2012 National Forest Planning Rule. These new directives are of particular importance for western North Carolina, as they will have immediate impact on the forest plan revision process currently underway for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

The directives supplement the 2012 Planning Rule by providing detailed policy direction that Forest Service planners will use to revise and amend land management plans for all national forests and grasslands. The new planning directives provide the public multiple opportunities, both formal and informal, to participate in the forest planning process.

Forest Service Planning Directives Reflect Thoughtful Collaboration

Contact:  Mike Anderson, Senior Policy Analyst: 206-890-3529, mike_anderson@tws.org

Washington, D.C. (January 30, 2015) —The Wilderness Society commends the U.S. Forest Service for completing directives to implement the 2012 National Forest Planning Rule. The directives supplement the 2012 Planning Rule by providing detailed policy direction that Forest Service planners will use to revise and amend land management plans for all national forests and grasslands.

“The final planning directives clearly demonstrate that thoughtful collaboration can sometimes resolve very tough forest policy issues, even at a national level,” said Mike Anderson, a senior policy analyst for The Wilderness Society.  Anderson is a member of the Forest Service’s National Advisory Committee on Implementation of the 2012 Planning Rule, on which he represents conservation organizations.

The directives will have the most immediate impact on more than a dozen national forests around the country that are currently revising their forest plans under the 2012 Planning Rule.  The Wilderness Society is actively involved in plan revisions that are underway in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

The Forest Service initially released the planning directives for public comment in February 2013.  The diverse, 21-member National Advisory Committee studied and discussed the proposed directives for eight months before reaching full consensus on a detailed set of recommended changes. The Committee submitted its recommendations to the Chief of the Forest Service in November 2013.

“It took them a while, but the Forest Service figured out how to incorporate virtually all of the Committee’s recommendations into the final directives,” said Anderson.  “The end product is a well-balanced planning guidebook that gives the public a comfortable seat at the table to help shape the future of our national forests.”

Based on requirements in the 2012 Planning Rule, the new planning directives provide the public multiple opportunities, both formal and informal, to participate in the forest planning process.  For example, the directives require public involvement during each step of the wilderness inventory and evaluation process whenever forest plans are revised.

“Conservation is an important part of the Forest Service’s multiple use mandate,” said Anderson.  “To that end, the policy directives provide a fair, balanced, and transparent process for identifying and evaluating lands with biological, ecological, cultural, and wild land value.”

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A press release from the U.S. Forest Service about the newly completed directives is available here.

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