Speaking of the Salmon-Challis and its forest supervisor, I was also reminded by this article of his novel approach to revising the Salmon and Challis national forest plans, which could mean not revising them. Now it appears that the regional forester (Farnsworth) is actually considering that option.
Given the choice between full revision, amended revision or no revision of the two plans, commissioners Butts and Smith said full revision is the least desirable option.
Butts and Smith said they’re concerned a full revision won’t prioritize local stakeholders’ perspectives or address their specific needs. Fearing pressure from environmental groups who don’t live near the forest using lawsuits against the Forest Service to control what happens to it, the commissioners said they worry the most about losing multi-use land stewardship in the forest to wilderness and scenic river designations.
Reaffirming the revision process is about getting the national forest in line with current policies, not the Forest Service caving to legal pressures, Farnsworth told the commissioners she will look at the letters they have sent before rendering a decision. “I’ll make this call, one way or another, because we have to stop the bantering,” Farnsworth said.
My understanding is that the Forest Service is not given that choice, and there is only one call that can be made, and it is misleading the public to suggest otherwise. NFMA requires that forest plans be revised at least every 15 years. These forests should have revised their plans by 2002. Congress has given the Forest Service extensions through appropriations riders as long as they are making reasonable progress. There is no legal option of amending plans instead of revising them, or just keeping them in place forever. Even further delay can’t be justified at this point, especially where these are the kinds of reasons. While the requirement for plan revision doesn’t necessarily mean a plan has to be changed, it does require going through the revision process to readopt the existing plan, with full public involvement. Maybe that’s what they have in mind …