Vistas Article - Proposed Rulemaking

n/a – 4/28/2011

USFS Proposed Rulemaking on Land Management Planning, Model for Tribal Consultation

Public Commend Deadline - May 16

USDA Forest Service issued a federal register notice (Vol 76, No. 30, pp 8480-8528)) on 2/14/2011 seeking public comment on proposed rulemaking on National Forest System (NFS) Land Management Planning. The proposed rule sets forth a new planning rule to guide land and resource management planning for all units of the NFS which is collaborative & science-based. The proposed framework consists of a three-part learning and planning cycle: assessment; development/revision/amendment; and monitoring. 
It refers to watersheds, and opportunities for recreational, spiritual, educational and cultural sustenance. It discusses the agency’s plans for protecting the Nation’s water resources – wild & scenic rivers and ecosystem services that contribute to local, regional and national economies.   It calls for plans to identify recreational settings and desired conditions for scenic landscape character and to provide places to engage in outdoor recreation and the ability to reconnect with the land. It also calls for protecting cultural historic properties; national heritage areas; national monuments; national recreation areas; national scenic trails and scenic byways; and about providing new economic opportunities or benefits through sustainable recreation and tourism.
The proposed rule also incorporates a higher level of public and tribal engagement than ever before.    It is completely proactive and refreshing in its proposed method to engage, consult and work with Tribes. In fact it details extensive tribal outreach efforts from May-December 2010, prior to the federal register notice even being published for public comment; and is being touted in Indian Country circles as “a model” for other agencies.   The proposed rule talks about methods of holding & safeguarding tribal culturally sensitive information within the agency; defines “Native Knowledge” and recognizes and supports treaty rights.
The framework is intended to move the Agency toward a more responsive planning process, which is integrated, inter-dependent and provides a holistic approach to management. It expresses a desire to provide proactive, contemporary tools. It is also embraces the national principle of meaningful engagement of the underserved.
Federal Register PDF  
Public comments must be received by May 16, 2011. A schedule of meeting dates and further information is available on the planning rule website.