From the Colorado Springs Gazette here:
“We’re moving away from the approach of regulating, and toward an approach of enabling,” said Meryl Harrell, senior adviser to the undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, echoing a June letter of intent from the agriculture secretary and Forest Service chief.
Leading the meeting alongside Forest Service personnel were members of the Outdoor Access Working Group, formed in 2014 for the very purpose of pushing discussions like Wednesday’s – long overdue, outfitters and guides feel as they’ve grappled with a permit application process that they describe as paperwork-heavy, cumbersome and archaic. Last year, in his first months as the first governor-appointed head of Colorado’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, Luis Benitez flew to D.C. four times to sit at a table with the Forest Service and the working group.
He considered Wednesday a day of victory.
“This is a big, big deal for Colorado,” he said. “Actually, it’s a big, big deal for the country.”
Benitez is especially giddy about the prospect for rural communities. He brought up the example of an entrepreneurial mountain biker in Kremmling wanting to use the surrounding forest for a guiding service.
“So you write a business plan,” Benitez said, “and you go to the Forest Service to apply for permits and user days, and that requires a NEPA study . and you wait and wait and wait to put your plan to action, and it could take anywhere from 12 months to five years to forever, and the plan never happens.
“Ultimately what you’re talking about is limiting economic development.“
(Sharon’s boldface 😉 ).