The Power of Precedence- Recreation Residences

One fundamental principle in public lands policy that I would propose is that it is much more difficult to remove or reduce an existing use, than to never have allowed it in the first place.

At the “One Third of the Nation’s Land” Conference today at University of Colorado, the planning panel was asked to look at Chapter 13 of the report (1970) which recommended phasing out recreation residences. They did not spend any time on it as the time was taken up by other intriguing ideas, including planning and a new FS planning rule. However, the “One Third of the Nation’s Land” report did have this recommendation.

Vacation Homesites
Recommendation 95; Public lands should not hereafter be made available under lease
or permit for private residential and vacation purposes, and such existing uses should be
phased out.p 223

This recommendation was made by a bipartisan commission in 1970, and this issue is as fresh as today’s headlines..”Real Estate Debate Rages In America’s Federal Forests.” I attribute this to the power of precedence… other thoughts?

2 Comments

  1. Sharon — A corollary to your “fundamental principle” is that it is better to put off to tomorrow decisions that do not need to be made today. Tomorrow you’ll know more than today. That’s one reason forest plans should avoid zoning, which is all about opening the door today for future land use decisions.

  2. Andy- that was precisely my argument as to why doing forest plan level EIS’s is a bit of a waste of time. If you do NEPA on what you “might could” do 10 years the estimation of effects including cumulative effects, is not going to be as accurate as “just in time” NEPA.

    I like to think of forest plan zoning as thinking about “IF we were going to do something, this is the area where we would try to put it.” Say, not in a wildlife corridor. That is very different from saying “you analyzed it in your forest plan therefore we are entitled to do that there”, as some proponents may argue.

    In reality, oil and gas leasing decisions do that very thing; decide where to and where not to lease and with what stipulations. So it makes some sense to do it holistically for a forest plan and use those zones to influence future oil and gas leasing decisions, travel management decisions and ski area decisions.

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