Forest Planning Rule Updated 6/26/13


The Forest Service Planning Rule will determine what is allowed in every Forest Nationwide by creating a set of regulations that each forest must comply with. Stewards of the Sequoia continue to be heavily involved in the drafting of the new Planning Rule.
In January 2013 the Forest Service released a Science Synthesis which will be the basis for future Forest Planning. However Stewards of the Sequoia submitted a letter cosigned by 64 organizations challenging flaw sin the study and asking that it be revised prior to publication.
The Sequoia National Forest is currently revising their Forest Plan. You can read more about it at: Alert-SequoiaForestPlanRevision
Recreation Groups joined with other forest products and multiple use groups filing a lawsuit to require the Forest Service to modify its new planning rule to avoid its devastating impacts on the health of National Forests, recreational uses of the forests and communities located nearby. Many of the issues raised by Stewards of the Sequoia in our formal comment letters have also been raised in the legal filing.
The U.S. Forest Service formally adopted new National Forest Planning rules on April 9, 2012. The new regulations shift the agency away from a jobs and ecosystem approach. Instead, the planning rule would cement the National Forests into endless litigation over single species management; an approach that even the agency admits has failed repeatedly in the last three decades.
The complaint takes the Forest Service to task for elevating species viability, ecological sustainability, and ecosystem services as mandatory national forest management objectives, above the five statutorily prescribed multiple uses: outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish purposes. It also admonishes the Forest Service for requiring recreational opportunities to fit the agency's definition of "sustainable" in order to be allowed on national forest lands.
You can read the legal filing HERE
Parties in the lawsuit include:
The Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Alaska Forestry Association, American Forest Resource Coalition, American Sheep Industry Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, California Forestry Association, Minnesota Forest Industries, Minnesota Timber Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Public Lands Council, and Resource Development Council for Alaska.
The Forest Service released the Draft Planning Rule and they have finally included recreation in the planning rule due to the immense pressure by recreation interests. However the Forest Service have qualified it as "sustainable recreation".
There are still problems as the Federal Parks and Recreation Newsletter noted:
Said Chris Horgan, executive director of the Stewards of the Sequoia, “In the face of overwhelming public concerns about recreation being excluded from the Forest Planning Rule, the Forest Service has included recreation, however, they have decided to qualify it, by adding the vague and indefinable term of "sustainable’ to recreation. This was not the intention of the public and is a grave concern to the recreation community.” Horgan, whose association promotes motorized and nonmotorized recreation on public lands, worries about the environmental implication. “It appears that the Forest Service is attempting to place additional environmental considerations onto recreation by adding the requirement of being ‘sustainable’,” he said, “perhaps in order to appease the extreme environmental groups who seem to have been heavily involved
Stewards of the Sequoia have submitted substantive comments and are working to educate legislators on behalf of our members regarding this and other issues in order to help the Forest Service to create a reasonable and balanced Planning Rule which can be workable, reduce litigation and get projects done on the ground.
It has been said that those at the meetings rule the world and there is a lot of truth to that. Stewards was invited by the Forest Service to attend another Regional Forest Planning Session in Sacramento in December 2011. We continued to remind the Forest Service that Recreation needs to a priority in Forest Planning, including motorized recreation. Stewards and our partners have been pounding the table on this in meetings and written comments for three years during the Forest Planning Revision Process. Yet Recreation still has not risen to the same level as other Forest issues............. Well persistence pays of and the dam finally broke at this meeting. The Forest Service has agreed and we have been able to get a Recreation Representative added to the Forest Stakeholders Advisory Committee, providing Recreation with a true voice at the table.
By being fully engaged Stewards is helping ensure recreation in all forms, including motorized recreation, is a priority for all future Forest Plans. The Sequoia National Forest is about to revise their Forest Plan. We have been laying the ground work to make sure our trails and access remain. Your support funds this kind of proactive work to keep your trail open.
Many people complain the public and recreation always get the short end of the stick, especially motorized recreation. That our legislators are controlled by the anti access groups or don't care and there is nothing we can do about it.
At Stewards of the Sequoia we know this is untrue, we just need to be pro active. Well here is a success story to prove what can be done. For the past twelve months I have been working closely with Congressman McCarthy's office keeping him up to date on the problems with the revision of the National Forest Planning Rule, which could effectively prevent most forms of recreation on public lands and needlessly increase costly litigation over public access on public lands.
Many thanks to Congressman McCarthy for taking action and the forty legislators who recently signed a multi member letter, endorsed by Stewards of the Sequoia, urging the Forest Service Chief to remove vague terms such as "environmentally and fiscally sustainable recreation", "stressors" and "ecosystem services" as a basis for future Forest Planning Processes. The letter wants to ensure our Forest Lands provide for robust recreation of all forms including motorized and non motorized recreation.
You can read this important Congressional Letter supporting all types of recreation HERE
If your Congressman signed then please call and Thank them. If your Congressman did not sign please call them and ask why not. You can look up your Congressman by entering your Zip Code at
It only takes a few minutes and is part of being pro active. If they hear from you then they will be better able to represent your interests.