VALLEJO, California, May 5, 2015 – The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region continues to make progress revising the land and resource management plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests.
The Forest Service is revising the plans under the 2012 planning rule, which also tasks the agency with evaluating lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, and addressing potential Wild and Scenic River (WSR) designations during plan revisions.
In order to complete the plan revisions the Forest Service is developing an environmental impact statement (EIS), and had planned to release a draft EIS this spring. That document is not complete yet but the agency has finished the inventory and evaluation portions of its Wilderness study.
“We plan to release the DEIS for public comment later this fall,” said Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester. “In the meantime, the forests are engaging in local-level outreach on a variety of topics. Regionally, we will continue to share information on our website. Stay tuned as we continue to make progress.”
More information about the Wilderness inventory and evaluation can be found on-line: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/landmanagement/planning/?cid=STELPRD3803608
“We remain committed to focusing our energy on developing valuable land and resource management plans. Since we are among the first forests to implement the 2012 planning rule, we want to take the time to ensure that the early adopter forests consider the complexities of the rule in a thoughtful manner,” said Moore.
In August 2014, the Forest Service announced a 30-day public scoping period that began the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for forest plan revision on the three forests. The Notice of Intent was published in the Federal Register on August 29, 2014, with the associated public comment period closing September 29, 2014. Since then, the Forest Service has been developing the DEIS and completing the required steps in the Wilderness and WSR studies.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, part U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.