Ashley National Forest
Forest Plan Revision Update
The Ashley National Forest will soon be revising its Forest Plan. The Forest Plan is the strategic master plan that defines desired conditions and management objectives on Forest lands over the long term. The current Forest Plan for the Ashley National Forest was approved in 1986. With the publication of a new agency planning rule in 2012, the Ashley National Forest is now ready to begin the process of revising its Forest Plan. The plan creates a “big picture” view of how a national forest will be managed, with a focus on long-term protection of unique natural resources and experiences that are valued by many people.
The revision process is expected to last four years. The first step is the publishing of a Notice of Initiation to conduct an assessment of current conditions. The Ashley National Forest plans to publish this notice in late June 2016. Meetings with cooperating agencies will take place prior to the first public meetings. The first series of public meetings to explain the planning process will beginthis summer. During these meetings the public will be invited to suggest assessment topics and data sources they believe the Forest should consider in the assessment of current conditions.
The forest intends to complete a draft assessment of current conditions in late fall of 2016 and will make it available for public comment.
Following the assessment phase the Ashley National Forest will begin a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) planning process to prepare a draft plan and one or more alternatives and analyze them in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). There will be multiple opportunities for public and cooperating agency participation and opportunities to comment during this process.
Our goal throughout this process is to develop a plan that helps us sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of Ashley National Forest lands to meet the needs of present and future generations. To accomplish this, our management must contribute to ecological, social and economic sustainability in the planning area.
Right now on the Ashley National Forest we are assembling the planning team and identifying key positions that must be filled and completing other logistical preparations that will carry this team through this planning effort. In addition, we are working to establish Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with cooperating agencies that have special expertise or jurisdiction pertaining to the planning process. We are also working to assemble pertinent data to guide the assessment of current conditions that we hope to complete in the fall of 2016. At a larger scale we are working with our regional office on broad scale assessments that can serve as starting points for Forest-level analyses of resource condition and trend.
What can you do right now?
You can contact Kathy Paulin, Forest Plan Revision Team Leader to be put on a mailing list. Kathy can be reached at 435-781-5160 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In order to understand the planning process you can review the planning rule at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/planningrule/home .
The Ashley National Forest is committed to making this an open and transparent process. We encourage all interested parties to participate in the assessment as well as development of desired conditions, objectives, standards and guidelines that will guide future management activities on the Ashley National Forest.