Plan Revision Assessment Phase


The assessment phase is the first of three phases in the forest plan revision process. During the assessment phase, the Forest Service rapidly evaluates existing information about relevant ecological, economic, and social conditions, trends, and sustainability. The Forest Service also examines the relationship of those conditions and trends to the forest plan within the context of the broader landscape.

The information gathered in this phase is used to help further the forest plan revision process in two main ways. First, the information helps identify the need to change the current forest plan. Second, it provides a solid informational base for the Forest Service and stakeholders to refer to when revising the forest plan during the second phase.

There is no decision document that is part of the assessment phase. Because of this, the assessment phase is not subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It is also important to note that the actual forest plan is not developed or revised during this phase at all. The development of the revised forest plan does not, and cannot, occur until the second phase of the forest plan revision process begins—the plan development phase. With release of the final assessment documents the assessment phase of the forest plan revision process is complete.

Vist our Forest Plan Revision Overview page to learn more about the overall forest plan revision process.

Document Organization

The 2012 planning rule directs each national forest undergoing forest plan revision to document and summarize the information gathered during the assessment phase in a report or series of reports. These documents are meant to be broad in nature, and focus heavily on identifying how conditions and trends have changed in recent times.

The Wayne National Forest developed a total of eleven documents for the assessment: the Wayne National Forest Assessment and ten supplemental reports. All eleven of these documents are important and collectively serve to meet the requirements laid out by the 2012 planning rule.

The Wayne National Forest Assessment is the focal document. This document presents the findings from the rapid evaluation of ecological, economic, and social conditions and trends across the Wayne National Forest and southeast Ohio more broadly. This document is built around an ecosystem services framework, and explores the benefits provided by nature in southeast Ohio, the forces that drive those benefits, the stressors that impact those benefits, and the social and economic values people place on those benefits.

The ten supplemental reports that accompany the Assessment provide further context and include additional information that is required by the 2012 planning rule.

A cover letter written by the forest supervisor of the Wayne National Forest discusses the assessment phase, how the public can engage in the process, and what to expect in the next phase when the forest plan is developed.

Assessment and Supplemental Reports

Assessment Phase Timeline

The assessment phase began in April of 2018. The forest plan revision team, partners, and members of the public worked to help gather and evaluate relevant information over the course of 22 months. On January 24, 2020, the forest plan revision team released draft versions of the Assessment and supplemental reports for a 45-day public review period that was extended to 60-days by the forest supervisor.

After the review period ended on March 23, 2020, the forest plan revision team worked to finalize the assessment documents based on the additional public input received. The final versions of the assessment documents were then released on July 17, 2020. The release of the finalized Assessment and supplemental reports concludes the assessment phase.

Gathering the Information

The information presented in the Assessment and supplemental reports was gathered through engagement with Forest Service specialists, State and Federal government partners, local governments, Tribes, non-governmental organizations, and members of the public.

During the early stages of the assessment phase, the forest plan revision team solicited information from a diverse audience in order to help write the initial Draft Assessment and draft supplemental reports. The team used a variety of methods to solicit this information, including holding public meetings, forming working groups, mailing formal letters, posting on social media, and more.

After writing the Draft Assessment and draft supplemental reports, the forest plan revision team invited stakeholders to review the draft documents during the 60-day review period and submit any input they had. The forest plan revision team solicited input and feedback during this review period using a variety of channels and methods, including news releases, in-person open houses, webinars, social media, email, the comment portal, and more.

The team then used the feedback received to modify and make factual corrections to the Assessment and supplemental reports as necessary, as well to incorporate new information as appropriate. Once these edits were made, the team released the final versions of the Assessment and supplemental reports.

Get Involved in the Process

Although the assessment phase has ended, the opportunity for you to engage in the forest plan revision process has not! There are plenty of opportunities to engage during the plan development phase of this process.

Visit our Public Participation webpage to learn more and find out about upcoming participation opportunities!