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By: Robert Janis

US Forest Service

U.S. Forest Service Struggles with New Planning Regulations

Continued from page 1...

Forest Trail

“The 2000 rule was determined to be unworkable; the 1982 rule, which is what the Forest Service is currently using to guide the forest planning process, is too complicated and cumbersome and needs revision,” said Mumm. “There is no way on the planet that it should take five to ten years or even longer to develop and revise a Forest Plan. Also, whenever they do, they wind up in court anyway.

“The bottom line is what good is having a forest management plan that takes ten years to develop, especially if the Forest Service is supposed to revise it every 10 to 15 years under the National Forest Management Act.  There is grid lock that needs to be broken,” Mumm said.

In February of this year, the Forest Service released the proposed new planning rule and draft environmental impact statement (FEIS), from which a decision will be made on the final rule. The Forest Service is working hard to complete a new rule by the end of 2011.

“I’m concerned that the proposed rule continues to stray very far away from the multiple use mandates including the mandate to provide a wide range of diverse recreation use,” continued Mumm. “These are principles that Congress laid out for the management of our National Forests in the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act. We believe that the draft rule, as it is now, will create more gridlock; that it fails to meet the purpose and need, and it fails to make the Forest planning revision process less costly, burdensome, and time consuming. Frankly, the proposed draft rule inappropriately emphasizes preservation over multiple use.  The Forest Service Planning rule needs to be about process and not about the content of the Forest Plans themselves. It needs to follow the mandates of the National Forest Management Act and the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act. “

Mumm points out that there are parts of the plan that are impossible to comply with. For example, there are viable species population requirements that are proven to be unattainable. He added that the viable standards have even been expanded to include native plants and native invertebrate like fungi, insects, plants and “unspecified others” for which the Forest Service has very minimal biological information. It also defines that the Forest Service will have to manage for “candidate” species or species for which protection has been applied for under the Endangered Species Act but have not yet been accepted. “The rule has wandered too far from the Congressional mandate of multiple use,” said Mumm.

Mumm encourages Congress to get engaged in the issue. “This process needs Congressional oversight,” he said.

Mumm said that there are currently efforts to get Congress engaged in the battle. “We are notifying key committees and committee members to make them aware of our concerns. The big thing people can do is send their comments to their Congressmen and ask them to engage in this. Congress should be holding oversight hearings in Washington, D.C. and out in the field.

“The rule is making policy, and that is the jurisdiction of the Congress,” concluded Mumm.

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