USFS releases proposed Forest Planning Rule

On Feb. 10, the U.S. Forest Service released its proposed Forest Planning Rule which is intended to establish a national framework to develop land management plans that determines how the National Forest system will be managed over the next 20 years.

Over the past year, the sportfishing community, along with other members of the outdoor recreation community, met with several representatives from the USFS to stress the importance of recreation on public lands and to ensure that it is well represented in making and writing the final Planning Rule.

The proposed rule provides for sustainable recreational fishing and other recreational opportunities; it recognizes the important role that outdoor recreation plays in the economy of rural America that surrounds these forests.

With the release of the proposed Forest Planning Rule, the USFS will be holding several regional forums to gather public input. One angler advocacy group, KeepAmericaFishing, encourages all anglers to attend any nearby meeting to give the USFS the angler’s concerns that they are committed to responsibly in using our great outdoors and urge the forest service to support recreational fishing as an important activity in our national forests.

Representatives of other recreational user groups are well-advised to give their input in this stage of the forest rule planning. Information will soon be available in May on-line at www.fs.fed.us.

The important input from interest groups and individuals is vital to assure that various viewpoints get a hearing, and that the rules are written in a way to avoid future problems like the recent lawsuit against the forest service against allowing firearms hunting or snowmobiling in forest areas managed as road less, semi-primitive areas. The law suit would, if the plaintiff wins any final appeal, close portions of the national forests to firearms hunting or snowmobiling in a number of areas listed for so-called “quiet”, non-motorized use.

This suit has caused a possible re-writing and change in the rules that would either allow or forbid hunting or snowmobiling in thousands of acres of Michigan’s Huron-Manistee National Forests. For local tourism interests the stakes are also high should closure of several connecting snowmobile trails be closed.

The original forest plan was called a “ten-year” plan, but appeals, delays and other roadblocks to final implementation actually took several decades for final implementation after dozens more public meetings and hearings to achieve. Currently, the information for any formal forums will be announced by press releases to media by early May and on-line at the Email address listed above.

And now new forest rule writing is coming up – and here we go again!