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SOURCE:  USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, September 23, 2005


New Forest Service Plans Provide Recreation and Protect National Forests

VALLEJO, Calif., Sept. 23, 2005 – The Forest Service announced new land management plans today to protect the natural character of four southern California national forests and provide a wide range of recreation opportunities over the next 10-15 years. Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Bernie Weingardt called the plans a “balanced, strategic blueprint for responding to the increasing demand for recreation and other uses of the national forests while protecting forest ecosystems and resources, especially threatened and endangered species.”

The Forest Plans will guide management of 3.5 million acres on the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests (NFs) surrounding southern California's major urban populations. The new plans give top priority to protecting nearby urban and rural communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfires and set the stage for the Forest Service to work closely with local communities to reduce hazardous fuels in the “wildland urban interface.” Motorized administrative access to certain backcountry areas will be allowed for reducing hazardous fuels and fighting wildfires in valuable watersheds and wildlife habitat. The plans incorporate numerous measures to protect watersheds, plants, wildlife, and their habitats during all management activities.

To protect the roadless areas and still accommodate the growing public demand for motorized access to the backcountry, the plans protect the bulk of the forests' inventoried roadless areas. The new plans identify approximately of the inventoried roadless areas where public motorized recreation will be permitted, but only on a limited number of designated roads and trails. Most of this acreage already has some form of motorized recreation use, generally on user-created trails. The remaining of roadless acreage will be managed for non-motorized recreation, administrative access and for protection of roadless character.

In line with national and statewide Forest Service policies, the new plans set a course to address non-system “user-created” road and trails over time either through decommissioning or adding routes to the system where appropriate.

Some recreation uses will be limited to certain areas. Mountain bicycles, for example, will be allowed on system roads and trails except in designated wilderness areas and other prohibited locations; they will no longer be allowed to travel cross country. Similarly, recreational target shooting will be allowed only in designated target shooting areas. The public will be invited to help identify suitable areas for these activities.

The Forest Service will make a preliminary administrative recommendation to Congress to add 87,000 acres, mostly adjacent to the existing 1.1 million acres of wilderness. These are areas without roads or other signs of heavy human use. The Forest Service will also recommend that three Los Padres NF rivers be added to the National Wild and Scenic River System. An additional 240 miles of rivers will be managed to retain their Wild and Scenic River eligibility.

The Forest Plans have been in development for the past four years. Draft plans were released for public review and feedback in 2004. The Forest Service made adjustments to the earlier draft plans based on nearly 11,000 public comments. “These plans are living documents,” said Weingardt. “We'll adjust them periodically based on new science and what we learn from field monitoring. We encourage people to help with the required monitoring, evaluating results and offering suggestions on appropriate adjustments.”

Each forest will host several open houses in October to help people learn more about the new plans. The meeting schedule, the plans and associated materials can be viewed now the world wide web or at southern California public libraries by the end of September. The plans are available on compact disk (CD) from southern California Forest Service offices.

[webmaster's note, the open houses for the Angeles National Forest will be held as follows:
Huntington Park: October 13, 6:00-8:00pm,
Family Center-Oldtimers Foundation, 3355 E. Gage Avenue
Rosemead: October 17, 6:00-8:00pm,
Garvey Center, 8838 E. Valley Boulevard
Santa Clarita: October 18, 6:00-8:00pm,
Santa Clarita Activities Center, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway
Wrightwood: October 19, 6:00-8:00pm,
Wrightwood Community Center, 1275 Highway 2
Claremont: October 20, 6:00-8:00pm,
Alexander Hughes Community Center, 1700 Danbury Road
Los Angeles: October 22, 9:00-11:00am,
Glassell Park, 3650 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles: October 22, 2:00-4:00pm,
Watts Community Center, 10950 S. Central Avenue
West Covina: October 24, 6:00-8:00pm,
West Covina Senior Center, 2501 E. Cortez Street
Fullerton: November 2, 6:00-8:00pm,
Community Senior Multi-Service Center, 340 W. Commonwealth]

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