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2012 Planning Rule Assessment



Ecosystems and watersheds

Air, soil, and water 

System drivers

Baseline carbon

Plants and animals

Socioeconomic conditions
Ecosystem services
Multiple use
Recreation and scenery
Energy and minerals
Tribal importance
Heritage areas
Land status
Designated areas

The National Forest Management Act of 1976 (NFMA) requires each unit of the National Forest System to develop land management plans in accordance with the principles of the Multiple-Use, Sustained-Yield Act of 1960. These plans should be updated at least every fifteen years to reflect current conditions. Until recently, all land management plans have been guided by the 1982 Planning Rule. In order to reflect the advancements in ecology and conservation biology over the past 30 years, the Forest Service promulgated a new planning rule in 2012.

The 2012 USDA Forest Service Planning Rule outlines an adaptive management framework for planning on our National Forests and Grasslands in fulfillment of the requirements of the NFMA. It guides the collaborative and science-based development, amendment, and revision of land management plans that promote the ecological integrity of lands in the National Forest System. The three-part framework consists of assessment, plan development, and monitoring. New plans will result in management of lands that are ecologically sustainable and contribute to the social and economic sustainability of local communities and our nation.

2012 Planning Rule Assessment Phase

The assessment phase of forest planning calls for a rapid evaluation of existing information about relevant ecological, economic, and social conditions, trends, and sustainability. Analyzing this information will provide insight into the relationship between land management plans and the context of the broader landscape. Planning units should coordinate with the Research and Development branch of the USDA Forest Service to utilize the best available scientific information in their assessment. The resources included in this online tool can serve as a starting point for assessment on individual National Forests and Grasslands.

Planning units should also include information that they have gathered specific to their area, and they can also contact the Rocky Mountain Research Station to work directly with researchers on finding the best available scientific information for their use. Feel free to contact us with any other resources that you think would be useful in assessments for forest planning.

Forest Planning Assesment Tool

This online tool from the Rocky Mountain Research Station provides information to assist National Forests and Grasslands in Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the USDA Forest Service in the assessment phase of their forest planning process. Use the interactive graphic on this page to explore the 15 different assessment areas in the 2012 Planning Rule, learn about key definitions in each area, and draw connections between the assessment phase and the planning and monitoring phases. Within the tool, each assessment area includes a link to “additional resources;” these resources can also be accessed independently on the following pages, which are organized by ecological focus and social, economic, and cultural focus.