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Sacramento meeting to kick off overhaul of federal forests plan

A major overhaul of the federal government's plans to manage forest lands in California is likely to affect recreation, logging and habitat for a generation to come.

Yet the process is freighted with legal conflict and shifting political winds stretching back to the Reagan administration.

The forest-plan makeover kicks off at a public meeting in Sacramento July 1, at which the U.S. Forest Service will launch a three-year process to revise the management plans for 14 national forests. All federal timberland from the Sequoia National Forest north to the Oregon border is involved.

Four forests in Southern California are not affected because their plans were updated in 2005.

"It's just important for people to understand that we're inviting them in at all phases," said Ron Pugh, acting deputy planning director for the Forest Service Pacific Southwest region.

The plans are supposed to be updated every 15 years, but many are overdue, Pugh said. Like a city's general plan, they serve as policy guidance for all activities in each forest, from camping and other recreation to habitat restoration, stream management and logging practices.

The process begins at the regional level, and then shifts to each forest as details are refined.

Changes to the National Forest Management Act in 2008 require the Forest Service to adopt a more collaborative approach to public involvement.

But other changes prompted legal action by environmental groups.

Greg Loarie, an attorney at the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice, said the Bush administration changed the law in 2001, removing a Reagan-era requirement for each forest plan to be vetted by an environmental impact study.

This change, he said, eliminated requirements for each forest to meet clear targets to improve habitat and water quality, for example. A federal lawsuit is under way on this issue, and Loarie said it might not make sense to revise plans while this conflict exists.

The July 1 meeting is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McClellan Wildland Fire Training Center, 3237 Peacekeeper Way, at the former McClellan Air Force Base. Attendees should register in advance by contacting Martha Maciel at (916) 930-3994 or mmaciel@fs.fed.us.

For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/planning" target="_blank">http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/planning.

    heybobk wrote on 06/12/2009 08:43:58 AM:

    The Feds and the State should declare Right of Emminent Domain and tell the tree-huggers and greenies to shut the hell up and stay out of the way. Then the forests could be managed properly, fire hazards could be mitigated and logging could proceed in a planned, organized manner. We all saw what happened in Lake Tahoe a couple years ago when old growth forests and dead trees aren't managed. Too bad it usually takes a tragedy for people to wake up.

  • ultimatedrivelmachine wrote on 06/12/2009 07:53:58 AM:

    I'm not sure the "wing-nuts" lost. Many of us believe that the wing-nuts won.

  • envirologica wrote on 06/12/2009 05:54:47 AM:

    JW - The wing-nuts lost the election, remember?

  • JWWiltshire wrote on 06/12/2009 04:31:52 AM:

    just say "NO LOGGING" "LET IT BURN" and "NO HUMAN TRAFFIC" and leave it at that. No need to go through a long process that will only be overruled in Courts when the environmentalists sue to get what they cannot get with negotiations.

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