Planning

Small waterfall in a creek within the floor of a wooded forestSaguaro cactus with rugged mountain sin background

Tonto National Forest Plan Revision

Each National Forest and Grassland is governed by a Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) in accordance with the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The Tonto National Forest’s current forest plan, signed in 1985, provides comprehensive management direction for resources on the National Forest System Lands. This includes plan direction for management, protection, and forest uses. Monitoring conditions on the Forest ensures projects are done in accordance with plan direction and identify conditions that might require a change in the Forest Plan.

The Tonto National Forest began revising its Forest Plan in 2014 using the 2012 Planning Rule for the National Forest System. This webpage provides information on the forest plan revision process and how to get involved.

Where Are We Now in the Plan Revision Process? +

The Final Revised Land Management Plan (LMP), Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), and Draft Record of Decision (Draft ROD) for the Tonto plan revision process are now available for review. The notice of opportunity to object (NOO) for the Tonto’s final revised LMP, draft ROD, and FEIS was published in the federal register on July 8, 2022, which re-initiates a 60-day objection period on those documents as part of the plan revision process. A legal notice of eligible objectors was published in the Arizona Capitol Times on September 16, 2022. This publication initiates a 10-day period in which individuals or organizations who have provided previous substantive formal comments in the plan revision process may request to be in Interested Persons in the resolution of any objections. Select the ‘Objection Process +’ tab below for more information.

Final Planning Documents

Related Documents and Links

GIS data for the DROD and FEIS are available by request at SM.FS.tontoplan@usda.gov. Please use that same email for more information or if you have any questions. 

Objection Process +

The objection process allows the Responsible Official, the Reviewing Official, Interested Persons, and eligible objectors to have the opportunity to seek reasonable solutions to conflicting views of plan components before the Responsible Official approves a plan, plan amendment, or plan revision.  

The original 60-day objection period, which began on March 25, 2022, closed on May 24, 2022. The web link included in the original federal register notice and legal notice to submit objections electronically was incorrect due to a technical issue with the website.

For this reason, the Forest Service re-initiated the objection period to ensure all potential objectors have an opportunity to participate in the process. The legal notice and federal register notice of opportunity to object (NOO) was published on July 8, 2022. The objection submission period ended on September 6, 2022, with 17 objections received. Of those, 14 objections have been determined eligible to participate in the objection process in compliance with 36 CFR 219.54. You may review the eligible objections to the draft Record of Decision, Final Forest Plan and FEIS in the CARA reading room

A legal notice of eligible objectors was published in the Arizona Capitol Times on September 16, 2022. This publication initiates a 10-day period in which individuals or organizations who have provided previous substantive formal comments in the plan revision process may request to be an Interested Persons, as described in 36 CFR 219.57. which allows participation in meetings between the objectors and the Forest Service.

To be recognized as an Interested Persons you must submit your request by any of these methods: 

  • CARA (Comment and Analysis Response Application) web form (preferred): CARA (.doc, .docx, .txt, or .pdf format).
  • Regular mail: Michiko Martin, Reviewing Officer, USDA-Forest Service Southwest Region, ATTN: Tonto Plan Revision Interested Persons Request, 333 Broadway Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
  • Fax: 505-842-3173. Addressed to “Reviewing Officer.” The fax coversheet subject line should include “Tonto National Forest Plan Revision Interested Persons Request” and specify the number of pages being submitted.

More information about the requirements for Interested Persons is available in the legal notice (linked above) and on the Plan Revision Project Page. The timing for implementing the new plan will depend on resolution of objections and any additional changes required to comply with resolution decisions.  

Related documents

  • Legal notice of eligible objections and 10-day notice to file as an Interested Person for the objection process (Arizona Capitol Times, September 16, 2022)
  • Legal notice for re-initiation of 60-day opportunity to object (Arizona Capitol Times, July 8, 2022)
  • Federal register notice for re-initiation of 60-day opportunity to object (Federal Register, July 8, 2022)
  • Legal notice of eligible objections and 10-day notice to file as an Interested Person for the objection process (Arizona Capitol Times, June 3, 2022)  
  • Legal notice of 60-day opportunity to object (Arizona Capital Times, March 25, 2022) **this legal notice contains incorrect web links
  • Forest Service four-page brochure on objection process

Forest Plan Revision Schedule +

The Tonto National Forest began revising its Forest Plan in 2014 using a collaborative approach and best available scientific information. The following table outlines the planning phases, process, and activities, as well as provides links to key documents or information for each phase of the plan revision process.

 
Process/Product Description Date
Assessment The Forest initiated the forest plan revision process in early 2014. After collaboration with the public, tribes, partner agencies, and other stakeholders, the Forest released an Assessment of Ecological, Social, Cultural, and Economic Conditions, Trends, & Risks to Sustainability. For more information visit the Assessment page.  March 2017
Species of Conservation Concern (SCC)

Under the 2012 planning rule, the Forest is required to compile a Species of Conservation Concern (SCC) list. It is comprised of native species whose long-term future on the forest is considered at risk but are not currently protected under the Endangered Species Act. For more information visit the SCC page.

Concurrence Received in February 2022
Notice of Intent (NOI) and Needs to Change (NTC)

The publication of the NOI in the Federal Register to revise the land management plan posted on April 6, 2017. It initiated a 45-day formal scoping period highlighting the Needs to Change, which outline specific parts of the 1985 Forest Plan to be updated or supplemented in the revised plan. For more information visit the NOI and NTC.

April 2017
Wild & Scenic Rivers Eligibility Process

As part of the forest plan we will be identifying eligible Wild & Scenic River segments, providing the basis for making the eligibility determination, documenting information supporting why or why not a segment was determined eligible, and identifying the proposed classification and location of the eligible segments. For more information visit Wild & Scenic Rivers Eligibility Process.

Completed in March 2022
Wilderness Recommendation Process

As part of forest plan forests are required to identify lands that may or may not be suitable for the National Wilderness Preservation System. The process of identifying suitable areas occurs in four primary steps: Inventory, Evaluation, Analysis, and Recommendation. For more information visit Wilderness Recommendation Process.

Completed in March 2022
Preliminary Proposed Plan (PPP)

Formal comments on the Preliminary Proposed Plan (PPP) were received between November 6, 2017 – January 12, 2018. This was accompanied by a round of public and partner meetings. For more information visit PPP.

November 2017
Draft Forest Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

Development of a draft forest plan and a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that analyzes the described affected environment and the environmental effects of each of the plan alternatives. The draft forest plan and DEIS was released on December 13, 2019, initiated a 90-day comment period. Comments are being used to prepare a final forest plan and final environmental impact statement (FEIS).

December 2019
Final Revised Land Management Plan (LMP), Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), and Draft Record of Decision (ROD)

Comments on the draft land management plan (forest plan) and DEIS are analyzed and reviewed in the development of a final forest plan and FEIS. The FEIS outlines any needed changes between the draft and final EIS.

The draft record of decision (ROD), Final Forest Plan, and FEIS were made available with the publication of the notice of opportunity to object (NOO) in the Federal Register on March 25, 2022. 

March 2022
Objection Process (in progress)

Prior to approving the preferred alternative, the public raises issues related to final revised land management plan (LMP), draft record of decision (ROD), and final environmental impact statement (FEIS) and suggests ways to improve the decision. 

The legal notice of opportunity to object (NOO) for the final LMP, draft ROD, and FEIS was published in the Arizona Capitol Times on July 8, 2022, reinitiating a 60-day objection period for this project, in compliance with 36 CFR 219. A federal register notice was also published on the same day.

Objection will be posted in CARA. The Regional Forester reviews objections following the end of the objection-filing period and renders written responses.

July 2022
Final Record of Decision, Final Revised Land Management Plan, and Final Environmental Impact Statement

 Based on objection review and response, the final record of decision is made by the Tonto National Forest Supervisor. 

 
Spring 2023
Implementation & Monitoring

Forest Service implements the Revised Plan and begins ongoing monitoring. 

TBD

Contact Us

  • If you have questions or concerns about the plan revision process contact the planning team at SM.FS.tontoplan@usda.gov. You can also reach us at 2324 East McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85006.

    • Kenna Belsky, Forest Planner
    • Robert Madera, Forest Botanist and Ecological Lead
    • Jay Olson, Wildlife Biologist

Features

Travel Management

The Final Record of Decision for the Tonto National Forest Travel Management Plan was signed on October 5, 2021. 

Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth released the Forest Service’s decision on how motorized vehicle use will be managed on the 2.9 million-acre Tonto National Forest. This decision is part of a nationwide effort by the USDA Forest Service to address motorized recreation. 

The 2005 Travel Management Rule requires that all National Forest System lands designate roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle travel. 

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