PHOENIX, January 19, 2018—For Immediate Release. A draft evaluation map that shows ranked parcels of Tonto National Forest lands based on their level of wilderness characteristics is available for public review and comments.
Comments on the draft evaluation map will be most useful if received by February 12, 2018. The public can submit comments in one of two ways:
The Forest Service welcomes additional public comments on the wilderness characteristic rankings given to each area identified. The evaluation criteriashould be used to provide feedback on the draft evaluation map and ranking determinations. Notes on these determinations can be found in the draft evaluation determination rationale.
Tonto National Forest officials developed the draft evaluation map as part of the ongoing Wilderness Recommendation Process. This process involves four steps that help officials identify, evaluate, analyze and recommend lands that may be suitable for inclusion as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The draft evaluation map is part of Step 2, Evaluation. In this second step, officials evaluate the wilderness characteristics of all Forest Service lands included in the inventory that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System using a given set of criteria.
According to Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor for the Tonto National Forest, each area on the forest was evaluated for five characteristics: size, apparent naturalness, opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation, unique and outstanding qualities, and manageability.
“We expanded the evaluation criteria to help determine a ranking of wilderness characteristics for each area based on the evaluation criteria developed by public engagement and Tonto National Forest resource specialists,” Bosworth said. “It demonstrates the importance of public feedback as the Forest Service advances to the third and fourth steps in the Wilderness Recommendation Process.”
Visit the Tonto National Forest’s Wilderness Recommendation Page at http://www.tontoplan.org/public-involvement/wilderness-inventory to learn more about the Wilderness Recommendation Process and how to get involved in forest plan revision.