New Forest Service Planning Direction
March 22, 2005
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service issued the proposed administrative policy for implementing its new planning regulation on Thursday, March 17th. The new rule governs the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands. The public will have 90 days to comment on the policy. The final planning directives, which will take into account public comments received during the 90-day comment period, will be released within 18 months.
The interim “National Forest System Land Management Planning Directives” can be found in the Forest Service Manual and the Forest Service Handbook, essentially internal 'how to' guidebooks. A summary will be published in the Federal Register. The directives detail procedural requirements and responsibilities for forest and grassland managers to implement the new planning rule, which became effective Jan. 5.
"This policy direction will provide consistent overall guidance to our line officers as they begin to revise their forest plans using the new planning rule," said Forest Service Associate Chief Sally Collins. "These instructions are essential for realizing the vision outlined in the new rule to provide future generations with healthier forests, cleaner air and water, and more abundant wildlife while sustaining a variety of forest uses."
The policy includes guidance on how to develop an Environmental Management System tool to improve performance and accountability, afford the public with improved public participation opportunities, provide for species protection by taking into account the best available science, and develop guidelines on forest activities, such as hazardous fuels reduction.
Forty-two forests will revise their forest plans in the next several years; several units are slated to begin this year. The new rule and the proposed directives are available at www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma.
The directives are effective immediately, but may only be in effect for up to 18 months. Written comments on the directives may be sent to:
USDA Forest Service Content Analysis Team
ATTN: Planning Directives
PO Box 22777
Salt Lake City, UT 84122
Send faxed comments to 801-517-1015 or e-mailed comments to email@example.com or through www.regulations.gov.