Rio Grande National Forest to begin operating under new Land Management Plan

Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas signs the land management plan with his Deputy and Forest Planner.

Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor, Dan Dallas, signs the Record of Decision for the new Land Management Plan on May 11, 2020 while acting Deputy Forest Supervisor, Shoshana Cooper (left) and Forest Planner, Judi Perez celebrate the occassion.

On Monday May 11, 2020, Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas signed the Record of Decision to begin using the new land management plan (LMP) that spent 4 years in development. On May 18, 2020, an erratum was issued to correct an error on page 35 of the Record of Decision. The LMP provides management guidance across the 1.8 million-acre Rio Grande National Forest for the next 10 to 15 years. “The revised land management plan is the culmination of working together with local communities, neighboring forests, special interest groups, as well as state and federal agencies for the past four years,” said Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas. “Over 100 meetings were held and several hundred comments received which helped shape the revised plan.”

Projects that began under the 1996 Revised Land & Resource Management Plan will continue through their completion using that guidance. All new management activities will be guided by the new plan beginning on June 12, 2020, 30 days after the plan's publication in the federal register.

In the first three years of implementation, the revised plan would support nearly 2,000 jobs in the recreation, timber and grazing industries worth $65 million in labor income. The plan also supports healthy watersheds that supply clean, abundant water to the San Luis Valley, supplying an agricultural industry worth more than $500 million. The plan would use active management to improve forest conditions, while providing for clean air, water, and forest products. Management direction would be updated for all plant and wildlife species, including spruce-fir ecosystems. The land management plan also recommends 40,052 acres be added to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness and three miles to the eligible and suitable Wild, Scenic and Recreation river system. Cultural values would be protected, while allowing multiple-use access to the forest and improving recreation opportunities. These values include the availability of and access to firewood and forest botanical products, for use by local communities. Partnerships and citizen science are prioritized in the land management plan, supporting more monitoring necessary to ensure the work done on the ground is meeting current and future needs.

The new land management plan also recognizes the role of naturally ignited fires on the landscape and encourages them to be used as a tool to improve forest conditions and protect communities from catastrophic wildfires. The final environmental impact statement analyzes the environmental, social and economic effects of the proposed land management plan and lays out several alternatives. The draft record of decision describes the selected alternative, which will become the land management plan.

The final record of decision, land management plan, final environmental impact statement and associated documents are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=46078

View 1996 Revised Land & Resource Management Plan documents at https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/riogrande/landmanagement/planning





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