Your Recreation, Your Land - Get Involved
By: John Stewart
Natural Resource Consultant
California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs
It is happening in Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, California, Alaska, Montana, and every other state where federal land managers control public lands. Their actions are governed by management plans. Nationwide the Forest Service and BLM are in the midst of management plan updates.
You can make an important and unique contribution to the future of recreation opportunities on public lands. During the formal planning processes there are two opportunities when the federal land management agencies will seek the broadest possible public participation: during the initial “scoping” stages of a project and upon the release of a draft document. This guide will help you frame your issues and concerns into comments that will be most meaningful and influential during the planning process.
The primary goal of scoping is to identify issues and determine the range of alternatives to be addressed. During the scoping phase, the agencies provide an overview of the proposed project, including a description of the purpose and need for the project and a list of project goals. The public is asked to submit comments, concerns, and suggestions relating to these goals. The most useful scoping comments address the following:
-- Alternative approaches and ideas for accomplishing project goals
-- The range of environmental and socioeconomic issues that need to be considered
-- Other potential projects that might affect or be affected by the project
-- Information that needs to be considered (such as related research) and why
-- Information on how you use the area and how a project might affect that use
-- Your concerns about conditions or activities in the area (related to the planning project) and suggestions for improvement
EA and EIS:
The two most common documents in the formal planning process are the environmental assessment (EA) and the environmental impact statement (EIS). Ideally, comments are most useful if they are specific and do the following:
-- Identify incomplete or incorrect information
-- Describe why a particular alternative or element of the plan would or would not work
-- Offer a new idea, or completely new alternative, that would accomplish the stated goals
-- Point out discrepancies between legal mandates and proposals
-- Highlight deficiencies in the analysis of environmental consequences
-- Tell them how you use the area and how particular proposals in the planning document would affect that use
You do not have to wait for a formal planning process to submit comments. Land Management agencies are always interested in your thoughts and ideas relating to the areas they manage and appreciate receiving your general comments anytime.
They encourage comments that include:
-- Your concerns about conditions or activities in the area and suggestions for improvement
-- How well you feel the agency is accomplishing its mission in the area
-- The overall quality of your visit to the area is critical to the management and planning efforts.
Here are some ways you can stay involved:
-- Review draft plans, final plans, press releases, and plan updates on the agency’s web site.
-- Add your name to the agency’s mailing list to receive the newsletters and other planning-related notices.
-- Request printed copies of planning documents.
-- Visit the area and talk with land management staff.
Remember, it is your recreation and your public land. Get involved and be part of the process, or........