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John Stewart

New Direction and Vision Announced for Forest Service

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES NEW DIRECTION AND VISION FOR AMERICA'S FORESTS

SEATTLE, August 14, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today outlined his vision for the future of our nation's forests. In his first major speech regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, Vilsack set forth a new direction for conservation, management, and restoration of these natural treasures.

"Our nation's forestlands, both public and private, are environmental and economic assets that are in critical need of restoration and conservation," said Vilsack. "By using a collaborative management approach with a heavy focus on restoring these natural resources, we can make our forests more resilient to climate change, protect water resources, and improve forest health while creating jobs and opportunities."

Climate change, catastrophic fires, disease and pests have all led to declining forest health in recent decades. The resulting impact on watersheds, the climate, local economies, wildlife, and recreation, has led the USDA to offer a new vision for our nation's forests. By taking forest management in a new direction, the Department will emphasize the role our national forestlands play in contributing to the health and prosperity of the country and reverse the trend of declining forest health.

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John Stewart

USFS Forest Plan Revision Update

This message received from USFS Region 5 is to update you on the status of forest plan revision efforts by the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region in California. On June 30, 2009, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a decision in Citizens for a Better Forestry v. United States Department of Agriculture ordering the Forest Service to cease the implementation and use of the 2008 planning rule. The Forest Service is complying with the Court’s decision. Use of the 2008 planning rule has been discontinued. Here is where we are currently with planning in the Pacific Southwest Region.

The 2000 planning rule, as amended, is now in effect. The rule allows the Forest Service to use the 1982 rule procedures to amend or revise plans. The Forest Service will be using procedures of the 1982 planning rule and is working on how best to transition to these procedures.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Giant Sequoia National Monument, and Modoc National Forest will continue work on their land management plans using the 1982 planning rule procedures.

Forest Service plan revision teams remain committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders. Planning activities such as public meetings that are independent of any specific planning rule will continue while we determine how best to transition to the 1982 rule procedures.The forest plan revision work that we have completed to date remains valid and useful. We are evaluating how to organize and convert this work to fit the framework of the 1982 rule procedures. We will provide regular updates as we determine the process and timeline for resuming forest plan revision work. As additional information becomes available, it will be shared with stakeholders and posted on our website: www.fs.fed.us/r5/planning Thank you for your continued interest and involvement in forest plan revision efforts. For more information about the 2000 planning rule and 1982 rule procedures please visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/2000_planning_rule.html

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John Stewart

Forest Service releases decision for Hoonah motorized vehicle access

Hoonah, AK (July 31, 2009) – Users of motorized vehicles on Forest Service roads on the Hoonah Ranger District, Tongass National Forest, will want to pick up a new Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for the district when it becomes available in January 2010. The map will identify which roads and trails are open to motorized use, based on the just-released Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (DN/FONSI) for the Hoonah Ranger District Access and Travel Management (ATM) project. Hoonah District Ranger Rich Jennings selected the Proposed Action with minor modifications, based on public comments and the analysis in the Environmental Assessment.

The original Proposed Action included 11 miles of trails that could be opened to future OHV use if funding were made available to make them accessible and/or to address resource concerns. The modification changes that to 5 miles for possible future OHV use, because analysis showed that 6 of the 11 miles of those additional trails were in Old Growth Habitat and designation as OHV trail would not meet Forest Plan Old Growth Habitat prescriptions. Provisions in the Selected Alternative also includes the following: * 141 miles of National Forest System (NFS) roads will remain open to highway vehicles; all or parts of these open roads may be open to both highway and off-highway vehicles (OHV) * 22 miles of existing NFS road will be designated exclusively for OHV use as OHV trails * 25 miles of open NFS road will be closed to highway vehicles, for a total of 122 miles closed to highway vehicles on the district * 95 miles of road on the Hoonah Ranger District will be closed to all motorized vehicle traffic Upon publication of the MVUM, all district areas not displayed as open roads or OHV trails on the map will be closed to all forms of motorized surface access including motorized subsistence access under ANILCA Section 811(b). Snow mobiles are not part of this decision and will be permitted off designated roads and trails when used over snow and in accordance with ANILCA section 1110 (a) and 811 (b). The map, which is expected to be available in January 2010, will be reviewed annually. Copies of the EA and Decision Notice are available on-line at http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/projects/projects.shtml under Hoonah Ranger District Access and Travel Management project.

 

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John Stewart

Two-Year ‘Time-Out’ from New Mining Claims on Arizona Strip

Salazar Calls Two-Year ‘Time-Out’ from New Mining Claims on Arizona Strip Watershed near Grand Canyon National Park: Department will evaluate more extended withdrawal of lands from new mining claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jul 20, 2009) – After carefully considering the issue of uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has decided to segregate nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the Arizona Strip for two years while the Department evaluates whether to withdraw these lands from new mining claims for an additional 20 years.

“I am calling a two-year ‘Time-Out’ from all new mining claims in the Arizona Strip near the Grand Canyon because we have a responsibility to ensure we are developing our nation’s resources in a way that protects local communities, treasured landscapes, and our watersheds,” said Secretary Salazar.  “Over the next two years, we will gather the best science and input from the public, members of Congress, tribes, and stakeholders, and we will thoughtfully evaluate whether these lands should be withdrawn from new mining claims for a longer period of time.”

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John Stewart

Is change happening?

The Forest Service is undergoing change.  Rather than a rigid bureaucratic administrative process mired in history, there is a refreshing breath of new life showing within the agency.

Within USFS Region 5 (California), there are 14 Forest Plan revisions scheduled over the next 3 years. Nationwide, many Forests are undergoing similar planning efforts.  These planning efforts are directed at updating existing Forest Service Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMP).  Preliminary information (and actions) indicate these plan revisions will be conducted using collaborative action processes.

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