Final Environmental Impact Statement

The Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, is revising the Ashley National Forest’s Land Management Plan (referred to as the "forest plan"). The Forest Service has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for its revised Plan and a draft Record of Decision (ROD).

These documents reflect extensive public participation over the past 6 years through collaborative working group meetings and other public input. We greatly appreciate the commitment of interested participants who have provided important contributions toward the development of the forest plan. The documents reflect an interdisciplinary team approach in the consideration of the input received, as well as of the directives associated with the 2012 planning rule. Based upon the review of all alternatives and the consideration of the effects to the ecological, social, and economic environment, alternative B modified was selected for the Ashley National Forest revised forest plan. The selected alternative is based on alternative B from the draft EIS, with modifications in response to comments, and includes features of all alternatives considered. Alternative B modified is the result of engagement with State and local governments, other Federal agencies, and Indian tribes, as well as robust and unique public engagement efforts since 2016.

Purpose of the Forest Plan

The proposed action is to revise the 1986 forest plan. The National Forest Management Act directs the development, amendment, and revision of land management plans to provide for the multiple use and sustained yield of the products and services on Forest Service lands, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, wildlife and fish, and wilderness (16 U.S.C. 1604(e)). The 2012 planning rule guides this planning using a collaborative and science-based approach to promote the economic, social, and ecological sustainability of national forests and grasslands and other administrative units of the National Forest System. For more detailed information:  2012 Planning Rule.

The existing forest plan is more than 35 years old, dramatically exceeding the 10-15 year duration of plans directed by the National Forest Management Act. Since the 1986 forest plan was completed, there have been changes in ecological, social, and economic conditions in the area, as well as changes in resource demands, availability of new scientific information, and promulgation of new policy, including the 2012 planning rule. These changes necessitate a plan revision to ensure that management direction is responsive to current issues and conditions. In particular, the plan revision addresses the following topics: resilient ecosystems and watersheds; tribal relationships and cultural resources; economic resiliency; sustainable recreation; traditional uses and multiple uses.

Objection Resolution

Deputy Regional Forester, Deb Oakeson will be holding an objection resolution meeting for the Ashley National Forest plan revision on August 28, 2023 in Vernal, Utah. This meeting will be to discuss objections to the revised forest plan with objectors and interested persons and seek opportunities for resolution. Members of the public are invited to attend and listen but may not participate in the discussions. Please contact Christon Simmons if you would like to attend.

Notice of Objections and Interested Persons Request

On April 19, 2023, the U.S. Forest Service published the legal notice starting the 60-day opportunity to object to the revised Land Management Plan and the Regional Forester’s list of species of conservation concern for the Ashley National Forest in the Vernal Express (paper of record) and the revised Land Management Plan, final Environmental Impact Statement, and draft Record of Decision were made available for review on the project website. The objection filing period ended June 20, 2023. The Forest Service received objections from 14 individuals or organizations. The letter are available for review in the Public Comment/Objection Reading Room. The objection letters are being reviewed and the objections will be responded to in writing per 36 CFR 219. Objection topics include:

  • Bighorn Sheep
    • Domestic Sheep Grazing
    • Mountain Goats
    • Species of Conservation Concern
  • Environmental Justice
  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • National Forest Management Act
  • Recreation
    • Management Area Designations
    • Recreation Opportunity Spectrum and Motorized Use
  • Socioeconomics
  • Timber and Vegetation
  • Travel Management
  • Tribal Jurisdiction
  • Wild and Scenic River Management

The regulations at 36 CFR § 219.57 and Forest Service policy outlined in the Land Management Planning Handbook (FSH 1909.12, Section 51.65) allow those individuals and entities who have previously submitted substantive formal comments and who request and are granted recognition as interested persons to participate in resolution meetings between the objectors and the Forest Service. This is to ensure that efforts to resolve objections are conducted in an open and collaborative forum.

To become an interested person: Publication of the Legal Notice in the Vernal Express initiates a 10-day period in which individuals or organizations who have provided substantive formal comment on the plan in the past and have a particular interest in the resolution of an objection can file a request to be an interested person. The request must be submitted within 10 days of the legal notice publishing. It must include: 1) name and affiliation (if any); 2) mailing address, phone number, and email address (if available); 3) the name(s) of the objectors(s) whose objection(s) the requester has an interest in and a brief explanation of the requester’s interest in the objection(s) and any specific concern(s), including a description of support or opposition to the objection(s); and 4) identification of substantive formal comment provided by the requester during the planning process demonstrating the requester’s past participation in the planning process (36 CFR 219.57(f)).

Electronic requests submitted using the form at the project website. For more information see the legal notice below.

Public Notice:

Legal Notice published in the Vernal Express June 28, 2023

Opportunity to Object - (CLOSED)

The decision to approve the revised forest plan for the Ashley National Forest is subject to the objection process identified in 36 CFR Part 219 Subpart B (219.50 to 219.62). A 60-day objection period on the draft record of decision, forest plan, and final EIS was initiated on April 19, 2023, with the publication of the notice of the opportunity to object in the newspaper of record. This is also an opportunity to object to the Regional Forester’s list of species of conservation concern for the Ashley National Forest. 

Who can object? Only individuals and entities that submitted substantive formal comments during earlier comment periods are eligible to file an objection. The objection must be based on the same concerns raised in the objector’s earlier comments unless it concerns an issue that arose after the last formal comment period. 

Objections must include the following:

  • the objector’s name, address, telephone number and email address if available;
  • signature or other verification of authorship;
  • identification of the lead objector if multiple names  are listed;
  • a reference to the Ashley National Forest Plan Revision and the Responsible Official, Susan Eickhoff, Forest Supervisor;
  • a statement of the issues and/or parts of the plan revision the objection applies to;
  • a concise statement explaining the objection and suggesting how the draft plan decision may be improved;
  • a statement that demonstrates the link between the objector’s prior substantive formal comments and the content of the objection; and
  • any documents referenced in the objection.

How to file an objection:

  • Electronically to the Objection Reviewing Officer: Electronic comments are preferred and may be submitted through the project webpage; click “Comment/Object on Project.” Electronic submissions (including all attachments) must be submitted in one of the following formats:  MS Word (*.docx), Rich Text Format (*.rtf), or Adobe PDF (*.pdf) and must be readable and searchable with optical character recognition software. An automated response will confirm your electronic objection has been received.

Refer to the legal notice on how to file an objection via regular mail, carrier, hand delivery or by fax.

Biological Assessment

Contacting the Ashley National Forest for more information

Forest Planner, Anastasia Allen, at (406) 270-9241 or
Collaboration Specialist, Lars Christensen, at (385) 320-6274 or

Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf or hard of hearing (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

Links to Additional Webpages, Documents, and Information

Species of Conservation Concern (SCC)

During the forest plan revision process, the Forest Service is directed to identify “species of conservation concern.” This is a type of special designation given to organisms for which there is substantial concern about their capability to persist over the long-term in a national forest.

The Regional Forester identifies SCC for forest plans developed under the 2012 planning rule. To be identified as a SCC, the species must be native and known to occur in the national forest, cannot already be a federally endangered, threatened, or candidate species, and must have sufficient scientific information available about it to conclude that there is a substantial concern for its capability to persist in the national forest over the long term. If there is insufficient scientific information available to conclude that, or if the species is secure in the national forest, then that species will not be identified as a potential species of conservation concern.

Wilderness Inventory and Evaluation

Under the Wilderness Protection Act and the Forest Service 2012 Planning Rule, any National Forest undergoing a plan revision must review lands that may be suitable for a Wilderness designation and analyze the impacts from the recommendation of such lands.

Eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 establishes a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System for the protection of selected national rivers and their immediate environments.  The rivers must possess outstandingly remarkable values – to include scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values - which are to be preserved in free-flowing condition. The Forest Service 2012 Planning Rule requires a comprehensive inventory of rivers, and their evaluation for eligibility, during a plan revision.

Key Contacts

Anastasia Allen
Forest Planner
(406) 270-9241

Lars Christensen
Collaboration Specialist
(385) 320-6274

Front Office: 435-781-5118