Although a new Forest Service planning rule is being developed, 18 plan revisions across the country are continuing under 1982 planning rule procedures. Some of these plans were being developed under the 2008 rule that was enjoined last year and they are now being repackaged to follow the earlier rule. Another group of planning efforts in Arizona, and one second round plan revision in Virginia, are now just beginning. If more funding is available, other plan revision efforts around the country might restart, although it may be difficult where planning teams were disbanded.
Regional Forest Service Planners are meeting in Salt Lake City this week to discuss ways to improve these ongoing planning processes. Issues that planners are facing include:
- What is the conceptual framework for an Environmental Impact Statement that accompanies a plan revision?
- How should alternatives be developed? Prior to writing a draft EIS, can a preferred alternative be developed in iterative steps? (This is sometimes called a “rolling alternative”)
- How should roadless areas and special areas be analyzed in a plan revision?
- What exactly are the effects of a forest plan, and how should they be analyzed?
- What climate change information should be included in an EIS and plan?
- What information about species should be included in the effects analysis?
- What level of economic analysis will satisfy the 1982 rule requirements?
- What are the best approaches for getting the best science used in the revision?
- What analysis models are being used and what is working well?
The 18 plan revision efforts that are using the procedures of the 1982 planning rule are:
Region 1: Kootenai (Montana) and Idaho-Panhandle NFs (Idaho) (one revision efforts for both forests)
Region 2: San Juan NF (Colorado)
Region 3: Coronado, Apache-Sitgreaves, Kaibab, Prescott and Coconino NFs (Arizona); Cibola National Grassland (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas)
Region 5: Lake Tahoe Basin Mgmt Unit (California)
Region 6: Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman (Oregon – one revision effort for the three forests), Colville and Okanogan/Wenatchee NFs (Washington – one revision effort for the two plans)
Region 8: NFs in Mississippi, Uwharrie NF (North Carolina) and George Washington NFs (Virginia – 2nd round of LMP Revision)