Forest Plan Revision Background

INDEX: Forest Plan Revision Home | Background | Drafts of the Forest Plan | Draft EISConcurrent Processes | On-line Files

What are Forest Plans?

The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 (60 KB PDF) required every national forest to develop a plan. Today, these plans provide broad direction for managing natural resources for the American people. Plans are programmatic in nature, meaning they cover a large geographic area, and their management direction is broad in scope. In addition, every forest plan must be consistent with environmental laws and regulations such as the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

The Prescott's revised Forest Plan will have five main components: 

  1. Desired Conditions — what people want the Prescott National Forest to look like, and what they want it to provide. These conditions must contribute to ecological, social, and economic sustainability. 
  2. Objectives — descriptions of programs, projects and on-the-ground activities to achieve desired conditions. 
  3. Guidelines — rules that guide management actions, protect resources and help achieve desired conditions. 
  4. Suitability of Areas — an assessment of where uses can occur including roads, livestock grazing, timber harvest, and utility corridors. 
  5. Special Areas — an assessment of areas for special designations such as Wilderness, Research Natural Areas, Botanical Areas, or Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

Why Do Forest Plans Need to be Revised?

The current Prescott National Forest Plan was originally developed in 1986, nearly 20 years ago. Since then, there have been many social and resource changes. Scientific information and methodology have evolved. A few of these changes were addressed in amendments to the original Forest Plan; many others have not been formally recognized and incorporated.

What is the process of Forest Plan Revision? 

The current Prescott Forest Plan still provides a solid foundation for forest management. So, instead of starting over from scratch, planners will identify and retain parts of the existing plan that continue to work. New information will be incorporated. Existing policy that isn't working will be eliminated. 

Forest Planning Process

The five main parts of Forest Plan Revision process are:

  1. Analyze historic and current conditions and future trends, and existing plan direction to identify areas where current plan direction needs to be updated (or Needs for Change). The document that summarizes this information is called the Analysis of the Management Situation (AMS).”
  2. Collaboratively prepare a Proposed Revised Forest Plan based on the Needs for Change identified in the AMS.
  3. Comply with the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the 1982 Planning Rule provisions by conducting evaluations for national forest resources such as potential wilderness areas, timber and range suitability, management indicator species, and species viability.
  4. Comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by disclosing the potential effects of the Proposed Plan and alternatives in an environmental impact statement (EIS).
  5. Go through a formal 90-day comment period before finalizing the revised plan.

See Online Files for documents providing more information on the planning process.