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!