Planning Rule

The Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment signed the 2012 planning rule for land management planning for the National Forest System on May 9, 2012.

This planning rule, which provides a new framework to be used for all future forest plans was developed through the most collaborative rulemaking effort in Agency history. The rule directs forests to develop plans to guide management of National Forest System lands by restoring ecosystems and watersheds, protecting wildlife, responding to a changing climate, connecting people to forest lands and contributing to the social and economic health of communities.

Planning in the Southwestern Region

There are almost 21 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands in the Southwestern Region. These lands are special to those who live here or visit. They play a key role in our daily lives.  We encourage you to get involved in land management planning on the Forest or Grassland that is important to you. Our planning process encourages public participation and dialogue at every stage. Your input at the local level will help us develop effective plans that will endure over time.

Five land management plans are currently in active plan revision under the provisions of the 1982 planning rule. They are the: Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, and Prescott National Forests in Arizona. These ongoing plan revision efforts take into account the same underlying concepts contained in the preferred alternative for the new planning rule and address ecosystem restoration, wildlife and watershed protections and economic contribution to nearby communities. We value the contributions and time that the public and our employees have given to these ongoing revisions and we will continue to complete these plans under the 1982 planning rule provisions. We expect final revised plans by mid- to late-2013. 

The Cibola National Forest began plan revision in summer of 2012, under the new planning rule. The Carson, Santa Fe and Tonto National Forests are expected to begin planning under the 2012 rule in Fiscal Year 2014, with the Gila and Lincoln National Forests beginning revision in Fiscal Year 2015.

« more information on ongoing and upcoming  revision efforts »

Why the Planning Rule is Important

Think of the planning rule as similar to a building code. The building code establishes the requirements for blueprints so all of a building's components are considered: structural systems, plumbing systems, ventilation systems, etc. The planning rule is provides the framework for designing a land and resource management plan, by requiring that each plan includes components to address ecological, social and economic sustainability. Using the planning rule as the building code, National Forests and Grasslands will develop individual master plans. Then each Forest or Grassland will implement projects within the framework of their plan to restore the health and resilience of ecosystems and watersheds, protect wildlife, respond to climate change, and connect people to nature.