Angeles Volunteer Association

SOURCE:  Federal Register, January 5, 2005

National Forest System Land Management Planning

Final Rule.

This final rule describes the National Forest System land
management planning framework; establishes requirements for
sustainability of social, economic, and ecological systems and
developing, amending, revising, and monitoring land management plans;
and clarifies that land management plans under this final rule, absent
extraordinary circumstances, are strategic in nature and are one stage
in an adaptive cycle of planning for management of National Forest
System lands. The intended effects of the final rule are to streamline
and improve the planning process by making plans more adaptable to
changes in social, economic, and environmental conditions; to
strengthen the role of science in planning; to strengthen collaborative
relationships with the public and other governmental entities; and to
reaffirm the principle of sustainable management consistent with the
Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act and other authorities.
Elsewhere in this part of today's Federal Register, the Department
of Agriculture is simultaneously publishing another final rule to
remove the planning regulations adopted on November 9, 2000.

Overview of the Final 2004 Rule

This final rule embodies a paradigm shift in land management
planning based, in part, on the Forest Service's 25 years of experience
developing plans under the 1982 planning rule. Having assessed the
current system's flaws and benefits during this extended period, the
Forest Service believes it is time to think differently about National
Forest System (NFS) planning and management. Thus, based on the
agency's expertise and experience, the Forest Service created this
final rule to enable a better way to protect the environment and to
facilitate working with the public. The final rule prioritizes agency
resources to monitoring and, when necessary, provides a process to
change plans to ensure that clean air, clean water, and abundant
wildlife are available for future generations. This final rule allows
the Forest Service to rapidly respond to changing conditions like
hazardous fuels, new science, and many other dynamics that affect NFS
management. Protection and management of the NFS should be based on
sound science, which is fundamental to this final rule.
This final rule assures the public an effective voice in the entire
planning process from beginning to end. Finally, because this final
rule provides for more efficient planning, more resources will be
shifted to the public's expressed priorities, that is, improved
conservation of the forests and grasslands and better responses to the
real threats the forests and grasslands face, such as critical wildfire
danger and invasive species which degrade ecological systems.
To achieve these important goals, plans under this final rule will
be more strategic and less prescriptive in nature than under the 1982
planning rule. Emphasizing the strategic nature of plans under this
rule is the most effective means of guiding NFS management in light of
changing conditions, science and technology. Specifically, plans under
this final rule will not contain final decisions that approve projects
or activities except under extraordinary circumstances. Rather, as
described further below, plans under this final rule will contain five
components, which set forth broad policies to help guide future
decisions on the ground: The plan components are desired conditions,
objectives, guidelines, suitability of areas, and special areas.

[webmaster's note: see Federal Register for full text of this final rule]

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