Four environmental groups filed suit in federal court Aug. 5 against the Forest Service, the Department of Interior and the Montana Logging Association challenging the 2018 Flathead National Forest plan.
The suit was not unexpected. The groups, WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Swan View Coalition, and Friends of the Wild Swan have maintained the that the Forest Plan, which was crafted over the course of several years, was, in essence, illegally handling the way the Forest would manage roads into the future.
At the heart of the case, the plaintiffs maintain, is the new plan disregards road closure standards that were set in the previous plan.
The Flathead National Forest is busy dealing with objections to their new forest plan. Some are a few paragraphs, some run hundreds of pages . . .
With one deadline past and another looming, Flathead National Forest officials will be working weekends to identify the issues raised in objections filed on a proposed land-use plan.
They tallied 74 objections when the objection period ended Monday [February 19] on the plan that will guide future management decisions on the 2.4 million-acre forest for the next decade or longer.
Over the next 90 days, the agency will work with different groups in an effort to resolve a variety of issues raised during a process that will be closely watched by those who care about the future of that landscape.
Larry reports on a recent meeting of folks interested in the upcoming revision of the Flathead Forest Plan . . .
Updating the Flathead National Forest Plan is almost as much of a controversy as what to do with the North Fork Road. Same thing with the passage of a Montana wilderness bill.
Apparently the Forest Service is going to try again to create a new, updated Forest Plan. According to Flathead Forest supervisor Chip Weber, the Forest is taking preliminary steps, and the process will probably gear up for action in mid-2013.
At least three environmental groups with a big interest in the Whitefish Range have decided to put together a diverse collaborative group to try and influence what happens in the Whitefish Range. The group includes North Fork residents — all three presidents of North Fork organizations plus a few others, Whitefish Mountain Resort representatives, logging interests and a couple of recreationists. Also present for the first meeting were two representatives from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The Kootenai people have strong historical ties to the upper North Fork.
After a two-hour meeting moderated by former Montana Secretary of State Bob Brown, the group decided it was worth meeting again to explore reaching some agreement that would aid the Forest in writing a new plan.
Here’s a pretty useful write-up on the proposed new national forest planning rule. Or, for those of you who like to read source documents, the official U.S. Forest Service press release and a link to the (take a deep breath) “Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule” can be found online at the Forest Service web site . . .
A proposed planning rule for managing national forests puts new emphasis on watershed health and recreation, but also strives to keep loggers in the woods, U.S. Forest Service officials said Thursday.
The national rule will guide local forest supervisors when they make their more specific forest management plans. Those plans govern where trees can be cut, the kinds of wildlife to watch out for, activities allowed in campgrounds and the backcountry, and how people can challenge forest decisions.
A shiny, new set of national forest management rules are due to take effect in early March . . .
The Obama administration says new rules to manage nearly 200 million acres of national forests will protect watersheds and wildlife while promoting uses ranging from recreation to logging.
The new rules, to replace guidelines thrown out by a federal court in 2009, are set to take effect in early March. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the rule change on Thursday.
Vilsack said in an interview that the rules reflect more than 300,000 comments received since a draft plan was released last year. The new rules strengthen a requirement that decisions be based on the best available science and recognize that forests are used for a variety of purposes, Vilsack said.
This will stir things up. The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing changes that would allow more local discretion over forest management. Reaction from some environmental groups was immediate and less than positive.
For more information, including links to related documentation and details of the public comment process, visit the planning rule website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule.
Here’s the lead-in from the WP . . .
[A hat-tip to Richard Wackrow for spotting this one.]
The Obama administration unveiled a proposal Thursday to give directors of national forests more discretion over managing endangered wildlife, reversing decades-old rules that left the sensitive decisions to officials in Washington.
U.S. Forest Service officials said the proposed rules also would expand the definition of protected wildlife to plants and better preserve clean water on some of the nation’s most pristine lands.