USDA Forest Service
||Contact: Heidi Valetkevitch,
FOREST SERVICE CHIEF RULES
ON SIERRA NEVADA APPEALS
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2001 -- U.S. Department of
Agriculture Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth today issued an administrative
appeal decision affirming the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment,
but directed the California region to reexamine some aspects of
the forest management plan.
"I appreciate the hard work and dedication of the interested
citizens, governmental agencies and many others who came together
to help develop the Sierra Nevada Framework," said Bosworth.
"While the foundation of the plan is a sound one, I am concerned
with some aspects of it and I believe that further review will help
to make the plan more consistent with other agency policy, including
the National Fire Plan."
In making the decision, Bosworth looked at the plan's environmental
impact statement and record of decision as well as the appeals and
administrative record. Specifically, the chief instructed the Pacific
Southwest regional forester to:
- reexamine the plan for possible ways to further reduce catastrophic
fire risk to fish and wildlife habitat and communities in the
- reevaluate the plan based on the latest science detailed in
the National Fire Plan; and
- identify opportunities to better synchronize the plan with the
goals of the Herger Feinstein Quincy Library Group Act.
Sierra Nevada forests continue to have unusually high levels of
fire activity with dangerously high fuel loadings. The plan had
been completed prior to the completion of the National Fire Plan,
which is an integrated, multi-agency, multi-ownership approach to
reduce wildland fire risk in the United States.
Once the Pacific Southwest Region completes the chief's instructions,
in coordination with the Pacific Southwest Research Station and
the Intermountain Region, the regional forester will determine whether
or not to amend the plan. The plan will remain in effect throughout
Appeal decisions rendered by the chief are subject to discretionary
review by the secretary of agriculture. However, since Secretary
Ann M. Veneman recused herself from this issue, Under Secretary
for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey will have 15 days
to decide whether or not to conduct a review.
In January, the Forest Service issued the Sierra Nevada Framework
for Conservation and Collaboration, a plan for managing 11.5 million
acres of Sierra Nevada forests that integrates the latest science
and a collaborative approach to national forest management. Bosworth
received 276 appeals challenging the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment
and its final environmental impact statement.