Forest Plan Revision: Archived Updates

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May 2018 Status Update

If you are interested in obtaining either a printed set of the documents (which will be at least 4 spiral-bound books totaling 2,000+ pages in length) or copies of the documents saved on an electronic media, please respond to the plan revision address provided at the end of this Update with your name and/or name of your organization (if applicable), specify your preference of hardcopy and/or electronic copy for the documents, and include a current mailing address.

The Coconino National Forest is considering different options for meeting with stakeholders and engaged citizens to share the revised Plan, address specific topics of interest, and answer questions, including an open house meeting and/or meeting with individuals or groups by invitation. If you or your organization is interested in meeting with us to discuss the revised Plan, please respond to the plan revision email address provided at the end of this Update by Friday September 1 with your name and/or name of your organization (if applicable), and if desired, a short list of Forest Plan-related topics or questions you are interested in discussing. Please also specify the format that would best meet your needs and availability (e.g., open house, our participation in your organization’s meeting, etc.). Your response will help us decide how to best meet the needs of those interested in additional information about the revised Plan.

Monitoring Plan Transition

This fall/winter we will begin to transition the monitoring plan within the revised Plan to meet the requirements of the 2012 Planning Rule, which requires all forest plans prepared under the previous 1982 Planning Rule to include the monitoring requirements of the new Rule. Most of the 2012 Planning Rule requirements have been included in the revised Plan; however, the remaining requirement is for the inclusion of focal species. Focal species are used in lieu of management indicator species, which are required by the 1982 Planning Rule, to assess progress towards meeting diversity and ecological sustainability requirements. The revised Plan will not initially include focal species, and instead include the three previously identified management indicator species: Mexican spotted owl, pygmy nuthatch, and pronghorn.

As we wrap-up the completion of the revised Plan, we intend to begin the process for the selection of focal species, which will involve working with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. As we do so, we will keep the public informed of our progress at appropriate times. Once focal species have been selected and appropriate notice has been provided to the public, we will adjust the monitoring plan in the revised Plan to include those focal species. At the same time, we intend to remove the management indicator species that were required by the 1982 Planning Rule. At this point, the Forest will have completed the monitoring plan transition as required by the 2012 Planning Rule. 

90-Day Appeal Window

Per requirements in the 1982 Planning Rule, there will be a period of time following the completion of the revised Plan for appeals to be filed. The appeal window will end 90 days after the date of the Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register. The Coconino National Forest anticipates publishing the NOA sometime in November 2017 which would have the appeal filing period closing sometime in February 2018.

Contact Us

As we move through this final phase of the forest plan revision process, we will continue to keep you informed of our progress. If you have questions, please contact Vernon Keller, Forest Planner, at (928) 527-3415 or vkeller@fs.fed.us. To update your existing contact information, please email us at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us

Thank you again for your continued interest in the future of the Coconino National Forest!

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March 2017 Plan Revision Update 

Recap since September 2016

Over the winter, our main focus has been on preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the Biological Assessment for the forest plan revision effort. The FEIS analyzes the effects of the forest plan alternatives, which include modifications that were made as a result of public comments. Appendices in the FEIS include the final Response to Comments and a crosswalk comparing the plan components in the current Plan and the new revised Plan. We have also made minor adjustments to the proposed revised plan.

In February, we provided the Biological Assessment for consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a step required by the Endangered Species Act. The Biological Assessment analyzes the potential effects to federally listed and proposed species and their designated or proposed critical habitats from adoption of the proposed Forest Plan. The USFWS is reviewing the Biological Assessment and will disclose its findings in a Biological Opinion. Once consultation with the USFWS is complete, the revised Plan and the FEIS will undergo any necessary final adjustments. We expect to receive the final Biological Opinion this summer.

Recap since Spring 2017

Over the past few months, the plan revision team and forest resource specialists finished the environmental analysis for the Wildlife, Fish, and Plants section of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which is about 600 pages in length; this section represented the last major piece of the FEIS to complete. Currently, the team is working closely with Forest Service staff at the regional office to address needed changes in the FEIS and its appendices, as well as a few changes in the Forest Plan, that surfaced from a final round of internal administrative review.

The team has also been working on finalizing the FEIS appendix which will provide a crosswalk of key plan components in the 1987 Plan and the revised Plan. Once complete, this appendix will show how plan direction in the old plan was carried forward into the revised plan as well as provide rationale for direction that was not carried forward.

Per requirements in the Endangered Species Act, the Coconino National Forest has been in formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the impacts of the revised Plan to federally listed species. This past winter, the Coconino National Forest provided USFWS with a Biological Assessment, almost 300 pages in length, which analyzed the potential effects of the revised Plan to federally listed and proposed wildlife and plant species and their designated or proposed critical habitats. The USFWS is reviewing the BA and will disclose its findings in a Biological Opinion.

On the Horizon for Summer 2017

This summer we will move into the home stretch of the forest plan revision effort. During this time, we will be finalizing the new revised Plan and the FEIS and preparing them for distribution. We will also be preparing the Record of Decision, which documents which alternative has been selected and provides the rationale for that selection. We anticipate distributing the Record of Decision, the new revised Plan, and the FEIS in September 2017. The decision will be subject to appeal; there will be a 90-day period in which to file an appeal. Information on the appeal process will be provided in the Record of Decision.

In the coming months, we also intend to begin to transition the monitoring plan within the revised Plan to meet the requirements of the 2012 Planning Rule, which requires forest plans prepared under the previous 1982 Planning Rule to include the monitoring requirements of the new planning rule. Most of the 2012 Planning Rule requirements have been included in the revised Plan. However, the remaining requirement is to identify monitoring questions and associated indicators to track the status of identified focal species. Focal species are indicators of ecological integrity and are intended to provide insight into: the integrity of and risks to ecological systems on which focal species depend; effects of management on these systems and risk factors; effectiveness of plan components to maintain or restore ecological conditions; and progress towards achieving desired conditions and objectives. Focal species are part of the monitoring requirements for ecological sustainability and species diversity in the 2012 Planning Rule. They are not the same as management indicator species, which are required by the 1982 Planning Rule. The revised Plan will not initially include focal species and instead will include the three previously identified management indicator species: Mexican spotted owl, pygmy nuthatch, and pronghorn.

As we wrap up the completion of the new revised Plan, we intend to begin the process for the selection of focal species, which will initially involve working with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona of Game and Fish Department. As we do so, we will keep the public informed of our progress at different intervals. Once focal species, monitoring questions, and indicators have been selected and appropriate notice has been provided to the public, we will adjust the monitoring plan in the new revised Plan to include those focal species. At the same time, we intend to remove the management indicator species that were required by the 1982 Planning Rule. At that point, the Forest will have completed the monitoring plan transition as required by the 2012 Planning Rule. We expect to compete the transition in fall 2017.

On the Horizon for Fall 2017

Over the next few months, the team will review the USFWS’s Biological Opinion, wrap-up remaining adjustments to the Forest Plan and FEIS as well as complete the Record of Decision (ROD), and prepare all final documents for both electronic and hard-copy public distribution. At the end of this summer, Forest Supervisor, Laura Jo West, and forest planning staff will meet with agency officials at the regional and national levels to provide briefings on the contents of the revised Plan. A ROD signed by the deciding official, Regional Forester Cal Joyner, is anticipated to be distributed in November after which the final documents, including the revised Plan, will be available for public viewing on the Coconino National Forest website. Hardcopy and/or electronic copy of the documents is available upon request.

Proposed Revised Plan

Contact Us

As we move through this final phase of the forest plan revision process, we will continue to keep you informed of our progress. If you have questions, please contact Vernon Keller, Forest Planner, at (928) 527-3415 or vkeller@fs.fed.us. To update your existing contact information, please email us at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us

Thank you again for your continued interest in the future of the Coconino National Forest!

 


 

September 2016 Plan Revision Update 

Recap since Spring 2016

In May, we shared an initial draft of our response to the comments made to the proposed revised plan and draft environmental impact statement. This response addressed the majority of the 1,100 individual comments we received during the 90-day comment period. We again want to thank everyone who has provided us with comments on this effort. See the May 2016 Plan Revision Update.

This past summer we focused on addressing the remaining comments and refining the responses we shared in May, including providing additional information and clarity where it was requested by public members following our May release. Simultaneous to compiling the response to comments, we have also continued to prepare and add information to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, which analyzes the effects of the forest plan alternatives, including modifications that were made as a result of public comment.

The responses we are sharing today address all of the comments we received during the 90-day comment period.  However, they are not the final product and are subject to change. The final responses to your comments will be included in the FEIS which should be available in spring 2017. 

Response to Comments on the Forest Plan Revision, September 2016 update (3.0 MB PDF)

On the Horizon for Fall 2016

With the changing of the seasons fast approaching, the Coconino National Forest will also be shifting into the next phase of forest plan revision efforts. Within the month, we anticipate starting the formal consultation process with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a step required by the Endangered Species Act to determine the effects of the revised forest plan to federally listed wildlife or plant species and their habitats.

Our biologists compiled a biological assessment this past summer to summarize the potential effects of the proposed forest plan (Alternative B Modified) on threatened, endangered, and proposed species; their designated or proposed critical habitats; and three species designated as experimental nonessential populations. USFWS will review this biological assessment during consultation and disclose their findings in a biological opinion. Once consultation is complete, the plan and FEIS will undergo any necessary final adjustments. This puts us on track to distribute the new revised Plan and the FEIS in spring 2017.

Contact Us

As we finalize the plan and environmental impact statement, we will continue to keep you informed of our progress.  If you have questions, please contact Vernon Keller, Forest Planner, at (928) 527-3415 or vkeller@fs.fed.us.  To update your existing contact information, please email us at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us

Thank you again for your continued interest in the future of the Coconino National Forest!

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May 2016 Plan Revision Update 

As noted in the Spring 2016 Plan Revision Update we distributed last month, we received over 1,100 individual comments on the proposed revised plan and the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) during the 90-day comment period. Since the close of the 90-day comment period, we have been reviewing those comments and making adjustments to plan components used in alternatives B, C, and D. Now that we have completed that process, we would like to share that work with you and give you an idea of what we have been working on over the last two years. We are using these adjusted alternatives as we are preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

Proposed Revised Plan

Adjustments to Alternative B

In response to comments received during the 90-day comment period on the DEIS and proposed revised plan (Alternative B), a number of adjustments have been made to the structure and language in the proposed revised plan. These adjustments were designed to address specific comments, to remove or integrate duplicative plan language, to clarify or elaborate on plan language, and to add new plan language. As part of the adjustment process, the proposed revised plan was reviewed from cover to cover and reorganized to make it easier to use. Alternative C and D share the structure of the proposed revised plan and many of its components. The adjustments described in this section also apply to the shared structure and plan components in alternatives C and D. Examples of the adjustments that have been made to the proposed revised plan include:

  • Clarifying the descriptions for Plan Decisions (desired conditions, objectives, standards, guidelines, suitability, and monitoring) in Chapter 1;
  • Applying a consistent format to the General Description and Background subsections;
  • Consolidating broad ecosystem-wide plan direction from a variety of resource sections into a new section called All Ecosystems;
  • Adding a description of and plan direction for karst to the Biophysical Features section;
  • Reorganizing the plan direction in the Water Quality, Water Quantity, and Aquatic Systems section into new sections called Watersheds and Water, Constructed Waters, and Riparian Areas;
  • Reorganizing the plan direction in the Vegetation section by renaming the section Terrestrial Ecological Response Units (ERUs) and moving the plan direction on Riparian Types into the new section called Riparian Areas;
  • Updating desired conditions on Potential Natural Vegetation Types (PNVTs) in the renamed Terrestrial ERUs section to align with most current information and renaming PNVTs as ERUs;
  • Consolidating the plan direction on wildland urban interfaces into a new section called Wildland Urban Interface;
  • Renaming the Energy and Minerals section to Mineral Resources to more accurately identify the contents of the section;
  • Reorganizing the Recreation section into new subcategories on All Recreation, Developed Recreation, Dispersed Recreation, and Trails and Trailheads;
  • Consolidating the plan direction on interpretation and education into a new section called Interpretation and Education;
  • Relocating the direction on specific areas from the forest wide direction sections to the appropriate Management Area direction;
  • Expanding the General Description and Background subsections for Management Areas to include more detailed information on the resources present in the Management Areas;
  • Renaming the Fort Valley/Mount Elden Management Area as the Mount Elden Management Area;
  • Renaming the Upper Clear Creek Management Area as the East Clear Creek Management Area;
  • Reorganizing the overarching Sedona/Oak Creek Management Area direction into the Red Rock, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona Neighborwoods, and House Mountain management areas, all of which contain the relevant language from the overarching Sedona/Oak Management Area and allow them to be stand alone management areas;
  • Renaming the Sedona/Oak Creek Management Area as the Red Rock Management Area;
  • Reorganizing the plan direction on watersheds important for municipal water supplies into the C.C. Cragin Watersheds, Inner Basin, and Lake Mary Watersheds management areas;
  • Expanding plan direction for the Verde Valley Management Area by stepping down forest wide direction from the Watershed, Recreation, and Riparian sections for specific application to the management area;
  • Reorganizing the plan direction on Designated Wilderness Areas;
  • Updating the Recommended Wilderness section to reflect the removal of the Walker Mountain potential wilderness area and the inclusion of the Abineau potential wilderness area;
  • Reorganizing the plan direction on Wild and Scenic Rivers;
  • Reorganizing the National Trails and Scenic Byways section into separate sections called National Trails and Scenic Roads;
  • Adding information on state scenic roads to the Scenic Roads section;
  • Relocating the plan direction on quiet areas and seasonal closures from the forest-wide direction on Recreation into the specific management areas where the quiet areas and seasonal closures are located;
  • Updating the Research Natural Areas and Botanical and Geological Areas section to reflect the designation of both the Cottonwood Basin Geological and Botanical Area;
  • Adding a new section that addresses Inventoried Roadless Areas;
  • Updating the discussion on grazing suitability in Chapter 4; and
  • Updating the Recreation and Transportation Suitability table in Chapter 4 to reflect that mechanized travel would be not be suitable within botanical and geological areas, except on designated trails.
  • As noted above, several adjustments were made to the proposed revised plan to incorporate elements of alternatives C and D. Comments on the rationale for recommending the Strawberry Crater Addition, Walker Mountain, and Davey’s potential wilderness areas as part of this alternative prompted a review of the potential wilderness evaluation process. After a thorough review of the available information, it was determined that the Walker Mountain potential wilderness area would not be carried forward in proposed revised plan and the Abineau potential wilderness area, which is included in Alternative C, would be added to the proposed revised plan. Both the Walker Mountain and Abineau potential wilderness areas remain part of Alternative C.

The proposed revised plan was also modified to incorporate another element from Alternative C. In addition to proposing the Cottonwood Basin Geologic Area, the proposed revised plan now also includes the proposal for the adjacent Cottonwood Basin Botanical Area. To facilitate implementation and management of these new areas, the boundaries for both the geological and the botanical areas have been adjusted to coincide with range pasture boundaries in the area. This adjustment reduced the proposed geological area from 217 acres to 185 acres and the proposed botanical area from 1,635 acres to 578 acres.

One of the recreation suitability determinations from Alternative D has been incorporated into the proposed revised plan, too. Under the proposed revised plan, mechanized travel would be allowed on designated system trails in botanical and geological areas, otherwise these areas are not suitable for mechanized travel.

Adjustments were made to plan language to address a wide range of comments. In some cases, plan direction was moved from one type of plan component to another. For example, plan direction in a desired condition may have been more appropriately included as a guideline. In other cases, several similar plan components may have been merged into one component. The desired conditions related to scenery were edited to remove language that merely described an area. This information was either moved to the appropriate General Description and Background section or to the Landscape Character Description document, a scenery inventory component for the Scenery Management System.

Due to these adjustments, the proposed revised plan that is being analyzed under Alternative B in this FEIS is different from the proposed revised plan that was analyzed in the DEIS. To reflect this change, the modified version of Alternative B will be referred to as Alternative B (modified) in the FEIS. While Alternative B (modified) is not the same as Alternative B from the DEIS, it does not contain elements that were not part of the four alternatives considered in the DEIS. Furthermore, the adjustments to Alternative B are not substantial changes that are relevant to environmental concerns.

Adjustments to Alternative C

In response to comments received during the 90-day comment period and as part of the restructuring associated with the proposed revised plan, several adjustments were made to Alternative C.

Several commenters questioned the appropriateness of naming the additional management areas in the alternative as “Wildlife Habitat Management Areas.” These commenters suggested that the management areas only restricted public motorized access and were not a comprehensive approach to wildlife management. To address these comments, ”Wildlife Habitat” was removed from the names of these management areas. In addition, the East Clear Creek Wildlife Habitat Management Area was renamed the Blue Ridge Management Area. However, no plan components included in the management areas being added by Alternative C were changed. Also, the additional management areas proposed under Alternative C have been adjusted to include similar detail and structure to the other management areas under consideration in alternatives B (modified), C, and D.

One of the primary differences between the proposed revised plan and Alternative C is that Alternative C retains the old growth retention direction from the 1987 Forest Plan. The description of how plan components from the proposed revised plan would be changed under Alternative C has been adjusted to reflect the changes to the proposed revised plan. For example, the names of the vegetation types have been changed to reflect the use of Ecological Response Units instead of Potential Natural Vegetation Type.

Next Steps

The adjusted version of the proposed revised plan has been posted to our website. No comment period is being established on the adjusted proposed revised plan; we just want to share the adjusted version of the proposed revised plan with you. We have also posted a report that includes our draft responses to your comments on the proposed revised plan. These draft responses to your comments provide insight into how we addressed your comments and why adjustments were made to the proposed revised plan. We are still working on comments on the DEIS. Those responses and final responses to your comments on the proposed revised plan will be included in the FEIS which should be available in Spring 2017.

We have begun preparation of the FEIS, which analyzes the effects of the alternatives with the above described modifications. As part of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our team is compiling a biological assessment required by the Endangered Species Act to analyze the potential impacts to federally listed threatened and endangered species. We expect to formally start the consultation process this summer. Once these steps are complete, the plan and FEIS will undergo any necessary final adjustments. This puts us on track to distribute the new revised Plan and the FEIS in Spring 2017.

Contact Us

As we finalize the plan and environmental impact statement, we will continue to keep you informed of our progress. If you have questions, please contact Vernon Keller, Forest Planner, at (928) 527-3415 or vkeller@fs.fed.us. To update your existing contact information, please email us at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us

Thank you again for your continued interest in the future of the Coconino National Forest!

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Spring 2016 Plan Revision Update 

It has been a while since our last update.  Since the conclusion of the 90-day comment period on the draft plan and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), we have been focused on reviewing all the comments we received on those documents and determining how to address those comments.  Thank you for your patience over the last two years as we have reviewed and responded to your comments.  As we near the completion of this phase of our forest plan revision effort, we want to share our progress with you.

Recap of the Comment Period

During the comment period, we hosted a total of 7 public meetings spanning 2 rounds (3 meetings in January 2014 and 4 meetings in February 2014) which were held in Flagstaff, Sedona, and Happy Jack; 20 internal meetings with different resource specialists and district staff; and other meetings requested by the Hopi Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and a handful of local organizations.

For round one of the public meetings, our purpose was to inform participants of the contents of the draft plan and DEIS and share tips for reviewing these documents. We also used it as an opportunity to ask participants what topics they wanted additional information on during the following round. Based on their feedback, we narrowed the focus of round two’s discussion to the following topics: dispersed recreation, wildlife and water resources, motorized recreation, wilderness and special areas, and forest uses under permit.

We consider these public meetings a great success as we were able to meet and interact with over 150 people interested in plan revision, discuss important topics identified by meeting participants, and gain a better understanding of different and conflicting perspectives on forest management.

By the end of the comment period, we had heard from over 1,700 commenters through 100 unique comment letters, which included over 1,100 individual comments. Commenters included: city, county, and State governments; other Federal agencies; the Navajo Nation and White Mountain Apache Tribe; utility companies; various environmental and user-related organizations; and individual citizens.

Comments ranged from expressing a preference for a specific plan alternative, to providing alternate analyses, to pointing out typographical errors in the documents. Some of the most common topics included: wilderness recommendations, proposed wildlife habitat management areas, motorized access, recreational shooting, management areas, climate change, species viability, municipal watershed and water supply, use of reclaimed water, management indicator species, and specific language within the plan components (i.e., desired conditions, objectives, etc.).

We want to thank all those who participated in our public meetings and those who provided comments on the plan and DEIS! We appreciate the time and energy you devoted to be involved in this important step of the plan revision process and in helping us create a plan for a healthy and sustainable Coconino National Forest.  We have tried to honor your efforts by thoughtfully considering all of these comments.

Since the Comment Period

After the comment period closed, we went to work on reviewing the comments and determining how to respond to them.  This effort resulted in a comprehensive review of all the action alternatives.  In response to the comments we received on the alternatives, we have been adjusting some plan components included in those alternatives.  The adjustments are designed to address specific comments, integrate duplicative or redundant plan language, and reorganize the plan to make it easier to use.  Taking the public comments and feedback into consideration, the Regional Forester has instructed the Forest to develop and analyze a modified version of Alternative B.

Next Steps

After we complete our internal reviews of the modifications to Alternative B, we will share this near final iteration of the revised plan with you.  We hope to have that available in Spring 2016.  In the coming months, we will begin preparing the final EIS, which will analyze the effects of the alternatives with their modifications.  As a part of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required by the Endangered Species Act, our team is beginning to compile a biological assessment to analyze the impacts to federally listed threatened and endangered species from implementing the preferred alternative. We expect to formally start the consultation process this summer.  Once these steps are complete, the plan and EIS will undergo any necessary final adjustments.  This puts us on track to distribute the new revised Plan and the final EIS in Spring 2017.

Personnel Changes

Since our last update, there have been several personnel changes related to the forest plan revision effort.  Yewah Lau, Sara Dechter, Emily Stoddard, and Adriane Ragan all left the forest plan revision team to pursue other career opportunities.  In June 2014, Vernon Keller joined the forest plan revision team as the Forest Planner.  The other vacancies on the forest plan revision team have not been filled.  In August 2015, Laura Jo West became our new Forest Supervisor.

Contact Us

As we finalize the plan and EIS, we will continue to keep you informed of our progress. If you have questions, please contact Vernon Keller, Forest Planner, at (928) 527-3415 or vkeller@fs.fed.us. To update your existing contact information, please email us at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us

Thank you again for your continued interest in the future of the Coconino National Forest!

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Winter 2013 Plan Revision Update 

The Coconino National Forest has released its Draft Land and Resource Management Plan for the Coconino National Forest (i.e., Draft Plan), a document that will update current direction and guide the Coconino National Forest for the next 10-15 years. In addition, the forest also released the associated Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), a document that analyzes and compares the draft revised forest plan and three other options for future land management planning on the Coconino NF. The release of these documents will initiate the official 90-day comment period, during which the public will be able to review the documents and provide feedback. View both these documents on the Plan Revision for the Coconino National Forest project page.

The documents are also available for review at the Forest Supervisor’s Office and Ranger District Offices:

Forest Supervisor's Office
1824 S. Thompson Street
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-527-3600

Flagstaff Ranger Station
5075 N. Highway 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
928-527-0866

Mogollon Rim Ranger Station
8738 Ranger Road
Happy Jack, AZ 86024
928-477-2255

Red Rock Ranger Station
8375 State Route 179
Sedona, AZ 86341
928-203-7500

If you require a CD or hard copy of the draft revised plan or DEIS, or need additional information about either document, please contact Vernon Keller, interim Forest Planner, at 928-527-3415.

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Fall 2013 Plan Revision Update 

By this winter, the Coconino National Forest will release its draft revised land and resource management plan (forest plan), a document that will update current direction and guide the Coconino National Forest for the next 10-15 years. In addition, the forest will also release the associated draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a document that analyzes and compares the draft revised forest plan and three other options for future land management planning on the Coconino NF. The release of these documents will initiate the official 90-day comment period, during which the public will be able to review the documents and provide feedback.

Upon the release of the draft documents, the public will have a total of 90 days to review and provide comment to the Coconino National Forest. During this time, we will provide a public outreach effort that blends several workshops, presentations, social media, and SMS notifications.

We want to connect with you in the ways you find most useful. As soon as possible, please update your mailing, mobile phone, and email information, and let us know your preferred method of contact. To sign up to receive information related to Forest Plan Revision or update your existing contact information, please contact us via

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Winter 2012 Plan Revision Update 

Although all has seemed quiet on the FPR front, intense internal effort has been (and continues to be) underway. The Plan Revision Team is excited to report the long-awaited release of the proposed revised plan (draft Plan) and draft environmental impact statement (draft EIS) is drawing near and is currently expected in the late winter or spring of 2013!!

After a long, iterative period of review and refinement, the documents are nearing their public release. The release of the draft Plan and EIS will initiate the official 90 day comment period, during which the public will be able to provide input via public engagement opportunities and other methods.

After the comment period, we will update documents in response to public feedback. Following Regional Forester review, a final EIS and a Record of Decision (ROD) will be released, resulting in the selection of a revised Forest Plan. No decision is final until the ROD is signed (anticipated at the end of 2013).

A recap of recent FPR history:
Fall 2010 & Spring 2011 Public Collaboration: Meetings were held in various locations to share draft Plan language and request informal feedback from members of the public. The Plan Revision Team used that feedback to inform and refine draft Plan language.

Summer 2011 – Spring 2012: The Team worked with Forest leadership and resource specialists to incorporate the public input into the draft Plan. Per the environmental analysis process (NEPA process), we also developed alternatives to the draft Plan that considered the public input that wasn’t incorporated into the draft Plan. The draft Plan and its alternatives underwent extensive environmental analysis by Forest and Regional resource specialists.

Spring 2012 – present: The Team has been very busy working with our Regional Office to further adjust draft Plan language and refine analysis in the draft EIS in preparation for these documents’ release and subsequent public review.

As always, we appreciate your interest in our plan revision effort and look forward to continuing to work together to sustain a strong and vibrant Coconino National Forest! Please share your comments or questions via email at the following address: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us.

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Fall 2011 Update 

As summer draws to a close, the Forest Plan Revision process is rocking and rolling along! In early summer, the Plan Revision Team worked with the Coconino National Forest leadership and resource specialists to incorporate the input received from the public during our most recent phase of informal comment (February/March 2011) into the proposed revised forest plan. Per the environmental analysis process (NEPA process), we also developed alternatives that addressed the public input that wasn’t incorporated into the proposed revised plan.

At this time, the Plan Revision Team is hard at work drafting the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Upon the release of the proposed revised plan and Draft EIS, you will have 90 days to provide your official comments. Once the 90-day comment period has concluded, we will update documents in response to comments received and release the Final EIS and a Record of Decision (ROD), finalizing the Forest Plan. No decision is final until the ROD is signed (currently anticipated at the end of 2012).

As always, we appreciate your interest in our plan revision effort and look forward to continuing to work together to create a strong and sustainable Coconino National Forest! Please share your comments or questions via email at the following address: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us.

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New as of May 2011 

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and a warm breeze is blowing!
Its official – spring has sprung!

The Plan Revision Team offers a very sincere "Thank You!" to those who attended our February/March “office hour” sessions and March public meetings and/or provided valuable feedback on the draft revision forest plan language! (For those who were unable to participate, access the information made available at the March meetings.) We appreciate the time you took to join us and share your thoughts on language and specific aspects of the plan.

Next Steps

The Plan Revision Team is busily working with the Coconino National Forest leadership and resource specialists to best incorporate your helpful input into the next step of our plan revision. Per the environmental analysis process (NEPA process), we are refining the draft revised plan into the Proposed Action and identifying areas that may necessitate Alternatives - for example, those sections where opposing values and desires would best be evaluated separately.

From now until the documents’ expected release in late 2011, we will develop, analyze, review, and refine the Proposed Action, its Alternatives, and the subsequent Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to provide the strongest possible documents for public review. Upon the release of those documents, you will have 90 days to provide your official comments. Once the 90 day comment period has concluded, we will update documents in response to comments received and release the Final EIS and a Record of Decision (ROD), finalizing the Forest Plan. No decision is final until the ROD is signed (expected at the end of 2012).

How are Wilderness & Other Special Area Proposals being considered?

To date, no decision has been finalized about which Special Areas will be recommended or designated in the Final Forest Plan. The Forest will analyze a wide range of Wilderness options: an alternative with no Wilderness, a Proposed Action with 3 recommended Wilderness areas, and an alternative with 13 recommended Wilderness areas. This analysis will be made public in the Draft EIS. With regard to Special Area proposals previously submitted by the public, we have attempted to incorporate the values and intent of those proposals into the Proposed Action. Special Area proposals that didn’t fit well within the Proposed Action will be considered for inclusion in alternatives. Along with other comments provided during the official 90 day comment period, comments related to Special Areas will be considered by Forest Leadership in their decision to recommend or designate new Special Areas in the Forest Plan. That information will be released as part of the Final EIS and the Record of Decision, concluding the revision process and finalizing the Forest Plan.

As always, the Plan Revision Team would be happy to receive feedback from you, so please share your thoughts with us via email at coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us. We appreciate your interest in our revision effort and look forward to continuing to work together to create a strong and sustainable Coconino National Forest!

In other exciting news, the interactive Plan Revision Internet Map Server is up and ready for public use! Although the site currently only displays spatial information from the 1987 version of the Forest Plan, it will be updated with spatial information from the Proposed Action and Alternatives as it is developed. Please visit http://maps.fs.fed.us/coconino/ or click on "Maps" link to learn more!

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New as of February 2011 

A draft revised version of the Coconino National Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan (forest plan) is now available for public review and input! Public meetings are scheduled in March to discuss elements of the draft revision forest plan. The public will have the opportunity to learn more about specific aspects of the draft revised forest plan and offer feedback on the language in the draft revised forest plan that may also be considered in the development of alternatives to draft revised forest plan.

For those unable to attend the March 1 or 2 meeting, or for or those who would like to have a one-on-one discussion with a member of the Plan Revision Team about topics not covered in the public meetings, “office hours” will be held during the following dates/times at the locations indicated below:

  • March 4, 2011, noon – 3:00 pm
    • Mogollon Rim Ranger District, Blue Ridge Office , 8738 Ranger Road, Happy Jack
  • March 8, 2011, noon – 3:00 pm
    • Red Rock Ranger District, 8375 State Route 179, Sedona

Tell us what you think!

To allow for maximum consideration, comments related to the subjects of the March meetings should be submitted by March 14, 2011 by email at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us or online via the Contact Us page. Written comments may be sent to Coconino National Forest, Attn: Plan Revision, 1824 S. Thompson, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

Please note that comments are always welcome and will be considered in subsequent steps of the plan revision process. Names and addresses submitted in response to any request for comments are also considered part of the public record for this project and may be released to the public if requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Providing contact information is optional.

The Forest Plan revision process is following an aggressive schedule, yet opportunities for public involvement will be available throughout the revision process.

NOTE: Although it does not pertain to the Coconino National Forest’s current plan revision effort, the Forest Service has issued a proposed 2011 Planning Rule. View information on that proposed Planning Rule.

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New as of January 2011 

Best wishes in the New Year from the Coconino National Forest Plan Revision Team!

The Plan Revision Team is excited to announce that 2011 is off to a great start: we plan to release a working draft plan early next month to garner additional public feedback to continue refining the draft plan. Public input will also assist the Plan Revision Team in identifying areas of the working draft plan that may necessitate alternatives; for example, those sections where opposing values and desires would best be evaluated separately.

Please check the Forest Plan Revision website in the next few weeks for the release of the working draft plan and details on the next stage of public engagement!

We appreciate your continued interest in our plan revision effort and look forward to continuing to work together to create a strong and sustainable Coconino National Forest!

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New as of December 2010 

Thank you to those who provided feedback at and following our November public meetings regarding developing language for the Coconino National Forest revised forest plan! The forest plan revision team appreciates the thoughtful feedback provided and is working hard to update the draft plan language based on the input received.

In early 2011, a working draft plan will be available for additional public input to continue the process of refining the plan. Sections that warrant alternative versions of the draft plan where opposing values and desires would best be evaluated separately will also be identified for further development.

We appreciate your continued interest in our plan revision effort and wish you happy holidays and a wonderful new year!

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New as of November 2010 

Thanks to those who attended our public meetings in Flagstaff, Cottonwood, and Happy Jack! We received great input and look forward to additional feedback on the drafts of revised forest plan language under development.

Plan language under development is available on the web for public input. Drafts of Forest Plan language currently under development that were shared at the November 8-10, 2010 public meetings have been posted on our web site with associated comment forms. We’d appreciate your feedback on these drafts by December 10, 2010, so we best consider them for incorporation into the next draft.

The Plan language development process is iterative. Comments are welcome throughout the process and will be considered in subsequent steps.

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New as of October 2010 

November public meetings scheduled for early public input on developing Forest Plan language.
Interested members of the public are invited to engage in the revision of the Coconino National Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan). The public will learn about the Forest Plan revision process to date, comment on current draft desired conditions for the forest, and provide ideas for the development of guidelines and management approaches. Three meetings will be held between 4:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.:

Monday, November 8 – Flagstaff.
Radisson Woodlands Hotel, 1175 W Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Tuesday, November 9 – Cottonwood
Cottonwood Recreation Center, 150 South 6th St, Cottonwood, Arizona 86326
Wednesday, November 10 – Happy Jack
Happy Jack Lodge, (directions found at http://www.happyjacklodge.com/)

Between 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. an open house focusing on ecological plan components will be held in each location.

Following the open house, a workshop on the recreation plan components will begin with a presentation promptly at 6:00 pm. Individuals planning to attend the recreation workshop should arrive by 6:00 and plan to stay until 8:30 pm.

To allow for maximum consideration during the next step in the planning process, comments related to the subjects of the November meetings should be submitted by December 1, 2010 by email at: coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us or online via the Contact Us page. Written comments may be sent to Coconino National Forest, Attn: Plan Revision, 1824 S. Thompson, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

Please note that comments are always welcome and will be considered in subsequent steps of the plan revision process. Names and addresses submitted in response to any request for comments are also considered part of the public record for this project and may be released to the public if requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Providing contact information is optional.

The Forest Plan revision process is following an aggressive schedule, yet opportunities for public involvement will be available throughout the revision process.

Updated Forest Plan Revision Process Timeline

We’ve updated our Plan Revision timeline to better inform the public on our expected timeframes and opportunities for public involvement. The new timeline can be viewed at the link at the bottom of this page.

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New as of September 2010 

Plan Development
The Forest Plan Revision Team is working to take the need for change (See the Analysis of Management Situation [809kb .pdf file] ) and the public comments received so far and create an initial draft Forest Plan. We will be posting information to the website as we make progress on sections of the initial draft Plan. We plan to have our first public meetings in early November. Stay tuned for more information.

Potential Wilderness
On August 11th, the Plan Revision team shared information from the draft report and public comments received by that date with the Coconino Leadership Team. They have decided that of the ten areas evaluated, three will be included in the initial draft Forest Plan: Strawberry Crater, Walker Mountain and Davey’s. Each of these areas will have desired conditions, objectives, and guidelines in the initial draft Plan that protect their wilderness character. The Leadership Team also approved several small boundary changes to these areas to exclude a few current and future wildlife structures, such as fish barriers and wildlife drinkers. The other seven potential wilderness areas have not gone away and may be considered in an alternative to the Draft Plan. If any of these areas are recommended as wilderness in the final revised Plan, Congress may designate the area as wilderness, and if they choose not to, the area(s) would continue to be managed for wilderness character.

The Leadership Team also decided that due to public interest, there will be further evaluation of the following Potential Wilderness Areas for wilderness availability and need: Abineau (#02), Whitehorse (#03), Bismark (#04), Deadwood Draw (#18), and Tin Can (#27). Further information on all of these areas may be found in the Draft Potential Wilderness Evaluation Inventory and Capability Results Report (31.24MB .pdf file) available on the Forest Plan Revision website.

Future opportunities for public input
There will be additional opportunities to provide feedback on areas considered for recommendation as wilderness both in the draft revised Plan, during the development of alternatives to the revised Plan, and during the official comment period for the environmental impact statement that evaluates all of these options. Opportunities for public input on other topics covered by the revised Plan will also be available. These opportunities will be posted here as they are scheduled.

Stay tuned to this website for additional opportunities to be involved in Forest Plan Revision throughout 2010 and 2011. Please contact us if you’d like to be added to the mailing list. A final revised plan is expected to be released in the fall of 2012.

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New as of August 2010 

Thanks for the comments on potential wilderness areas! Thank you to those who provided us with public input on our potential wilderness areas and participated in our recent public meetings on those areas! We hope that it provided you with some helpful information about our evaluation process, and we certainly appreciate all the comments we received!

Frequently Asked Questions on Potential Wilderness Areas are available. Based on questions we received from the public meetings related to potential wilderness, we’ve compiled some answers to commonly asked questions and posted them on our Forest Plan Revision Documents page. We also have additional information and clarification about grazing management in wilderness posted.

Potential wilderness next steps. We shared the public input we received on potential wilderness areas with Forest leadership and are working to update the Potential Wilderness Evaluation Report accordingly. We will also develop a consolidated response to the comments we received on potential wilderness areas. The updated evaluation report and response to comments will be posted on our web site when they have been completed. Following these tasks, we will work to develop draft Plan language for the potential wilderness areas selected by Forest leadership to be included in the draft revised Forest Plan.

Future opportunities for public input. There will be additional opportunities to provide feedback on areas considered for recommendation as wilderness both in the draft revised Plan, during the development of alternatives to the revised Plan, and during the official comment period for the environmental impact statement that evaluates all of these options. Opportunities for public input on other topics covered by the revised Plan will also be available. These opportunities will be posted here as they are scheduled.

Stay tuned to this website for additional opportunities to be involved in Forest Plan Revision throughout 2010 and 2011. Please contact us if you’d like to be added to the mailing list. A final revised plan is expected to be released in the fall of 2012.

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