Forest Service releases final Land Management Planning Framework

This just in (Jan. 30, 2015):

FOREST-PLANNING-RULE: Forest Service releases final Land Management Planning Framework

Flores, Tanya E, teflores@fs.fed.us

I am pleased to announce  that the Forest Service has issued final Planning Directives. These Directives are a key set of agency guidance documents for implementation of the 2012 Planning Rule. Our intent is to ensure an adaptive land management planning process that is inclusive, efficient, collaborative and science-based to promote healthy, resilient, diverse and productive national forests and grasslands.

Proposed Directives were released for comment in February 2013. The Secretary of Agriculture’s  Federal Advisory Committee (FACA Committee) recommendations, 16,000+ public comments, extensive regional input, advice from Washington Office staffs, agency-wide roundtables, and lessons learned from early adopter implementation were used to formulate the final Directives.

One of the Agency’s key goals is to make the planning process easy to understand in an effort to increase community involvement in protecting and restoring natural resources. The final Directives provide clearer direction and greater context for how the public can engage in planning activities. The revisions incorporated into the final Directives will support efforts to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of planning processes.

I want to thank everyone for their continued interest and involvement. Your input, experiences, feedback and relationships within our communities have helped shape these Directives.

A copy of the final directives, along with background information, can be obtained at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/planningrule/home, or by calling (202) 205-1449.

7 Comments

  1. Any ever notice how the Forest Service says, “healthy, resilient, diverse and productive” with productive, if mentioned at all, almost an afterthought? I and others have noticed that, at the national SAF conventions, for example, the Forest Service has some really great booths/displays but, one has to look really hard to find “productive” anywhere. Healthy, recreation, habitats, and all manner of other things are rightfully mentioned as part of the national forest system but “productive” seems mostly absent.

    Why is that? I guess it is better to keep production away from our national forests and wear blinders as we rely on foreign forests to meet our wood needs. While we have our heads stuck in the sand, that seems like an ethical question we ought to be addressing.

    I seems to me “productive” should come first and, if done properly, “healthy, resilient, and diverse” will follow.

  2. “Productivity. The capacity of NFS lands and their ecological systems to provide the various renewable resources in certain amounts in perpetuity. For the purposes of this subpart, productivity is an ecological term, not an economic term.” (36 CFR 219.19)

  3. Jon.. can’t tell you how much it delights me to be retired and to be able to say openly that I think people have twisted words around so much that this definition makes no sense. “The capacity of the lands and systems to provide renewable resources in certain amounts in perpetuity”.. Really, “perpetuity?” We know the climate is changing, so nothing is in perpetuity, let alone “certain amounts”.

    It would be more logical and clear to say “without impacting the ability of the soil, water and air to support assemblages of living things into the future.”

    Like I’ve said before, I think you need to pick a lane. either climate change is real, and we need to pick something different from “what used to be” to be our goal (and acknowledge that social goals are not ultimately not science questions)..or cc is not real, and by tweaking or not tweaking we can return to the “desired conditions.”

    Observation.. I saw that the science rep on the FACA committee was none other than Martin Nie, co-founder of this blog! I think it’s a great thing that the science rep is a social scientist!

    • “… this definition makes no sense. “The capacity of the lands and systems to provide renewable resources in certain amounts in perpetuity”.. Really, “perpetuity?” We know the climate is changing, so nothing is in perpetuity, let alone “certain amounts”.”

      I think the definition does make sense, considered as a baseline (“certain amounts”) that is projected as a reference into the future (“perpetuity”). If those amounts aren’t attained in some future time frame, whether due to climate change or whatever, then we would say that productivity declined during that time frame. And perhaps we could formulate our management actions accordingly. Conversely if the baseline amounts are exceeded, we would say that productivity increased. It provides a workable standard, whereas just saying “nothing is in perpetuity” (while true enough) doesn’t provide a forest policy benchmark.

      • Sorry Guy, I was full of “regulations in Plain English ” idealistic fervor. As per http://www.plainlanguage.gov/pllaw/law/ :). As Andy points out, the law that these regs were based on were more plain-English-y.

        “substantial and permanent impairment to the productivity of the land” .So you know you’re doing right if you can argue that you are not “substantially and permanently” impairing the land’s productivity.

        Now we have a different standard, it appears, and if Andy is correct, one that does not actually show up in the law.

        The capacity of NFS lands and their ecological systems to provide the various renewable resources in certain amounts in perpetuity.

        So instead of proving that you are not impairing the productivity of the land, you have to estimate what might be provided in perpetuity as a “baseline.”

        At the risk of sounding heretical, why do we need a “baseline”? What was wrong with simply accepting Congress’s idea of “not impairing?”

  4. I gotta go with Dick on this one. The NFMA requires research and monitoring “of each management system to the end that it will not produce substantial and permanent impairment of the productivity of the land.” NFMA’s term “management system” refers to method of logging, i.e., silvicultural system (“determine forest management systems, harvesting levels, and procedures in the light of all of the uses . . . “). I’ve belabored this before (e.g., K.I.S.S. Rule Proposal); NFMA was a logging reform law. It should never have become a full employment act for planners.

    P.S. How can the FS say with a straight face that a 500-page directive makes this process “easy to understand?”

  5. I agree that NFMA was a logging reform law, but it does that in many ways. I know that ‘productivity of the land’ language gets quoted a lot, but it’s in a provision about what forest plans should say about research. The more direct language in NFMA prohibits timber harvest if soil, slope or other watershed conditions will be ‘irreversibly damaged.’

    While I agree with Sharon that the definition of productivity is pretty mushy, I think it (and the ‘baseline’ concept) is derived from and faithful to the principles of sustained yield of multiple uses from the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act. (I don’t think ‘certain’ means ‘known.’)

    I agree that it’s probably better to have a social scientist on the team than an anti-social one.

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