As one of the many folks who attended a “listening session” last year, I’m on the mailing list. Just received this pre-assessment phase update. I give the USFS a lot of credit for inviting and considering input from the public. But the process takes SO long — the agency says it will be “approaching the Assessment phase of plan revision in late 2017 or early 2018.” If the pre-assessment phase takes almost 3 years, and if the assessment phase takes 3 more years, and then maybe there’s a plan revision phase that takes a few years…. This process may not be completed until 2025. 2030 anyone?
Joint R5 & R6 Forest Plan Revision Status within the Northwest Forest Plan Amendment Area
The Forest Service has evaluated what we heard from our partners and the public during the 19 listening sessions held last year as well as to other feedback received since then. We have several work groups in place that are designing an analytical framework and public engagement approach with the goal to provide regional consistency while fostering and maintaining local ownership. Regional and forest level specialists from both Regions are assigned to the work groups. This work is being completed in what is called the pre-assessment phase. The tasks done by these work groups will inform and support the first phase of the revision process called the Assessment phase. Based on lessons learned, the information collected during pre-assessment will also help us to better engage with the public and stakeholders as the 2012 Planning Rule describes. In late 2016 we will evaluate the integrated products that the work groups are developing. That evaluation will shape our next steps, with the aim of approaching the Assessment phase of plan revision in late 2017 or early 2018.
Key Points and Next Steps:
We are taking the necessary time to compile work group products and information in a thorough, thoughtful, consistent way to ensure success in the Assessment phase, in how we approach public engagement, and in the overall implementation of plan revision. Our current focus is completing pre-assessment work group products and the Northwest Forest Plan science synthesis being led by the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Pacific Southwest Research Station.
Ø We have not made a decision about the sequencing, i.e., order/combination of forests revising their plans, or the timing of the plan revision process. We will not make that decision until we have more and better information gleaned from our on-going pre-assessment work groups and engagement process.
Ø There is agreement that we must engage in:
- Building relationships both internally and externally,
- Developing a contemporary and relevant engagement and communications approach,
- Adopting the lessons learned from the early adopters,
- Finding appropriate and effective ways to engage with the public around priority issues that can be addressed in the pre-assessment phase of the 2012 Planning Rule.
Ø Here are initial topics that work groups are focused on:
- Aquatic Riparian Conservation Strategy, eastside old forest conditions, Species of Conservation Concern, socio and economic conditions/values-attitudes-beliefs, and sustainable recreation.
Ø Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) topics will be informed by the Station-led science synthesis for the NWFP area.
Forest plan revision remains a high priority for both Regions. We believe this timeline and approach will allow the Regions to prepare for revisions in the most effective way while continuing our focus on restoration objectives, fire management, and employee safety and wellness.
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