Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) Thursday that offers guidelines for how national forests draw up their management plans. Under the proposed new rule, forests may update their plans as needed, instead of the previous standard of every fifteen years.
Lisa McGee of the Wyoming Outdoor Council welcomes the recommended updates to the thirty-year old rule. “I think that most people are going to see that the rule doesn’t have drastic implications or changes,” says McGee. “Again, this is a rule about how to put together a plan that is itself an over-arching management document. I’d say I think there are good implications for what it could mean for the forest in Wyoming.”
The Environmental Impact Statement recommends that individual forest managers promote sustainable recreation, watershed restoration, and offer opportunities for public involvement, including tribal collaboration.
McGee says the proposed planning rule would account for ways that public land usage has changed over the past century. “ I think it strikes a good balance,” explains McGee, “giving the forest service the flexibility to respond to present challenges on the landscape but also ensuring that there’s accountability to the public.”
If approved, the final rule would be the first update to forest planning procedures in thirty years.