WASHINGTON, JANUARY 30, 2015 AT 3:15 PM EST - The U.S. Forest Service announced availability of final planning directives, a key set of agency guidance documents that directs land managers’ implementation of the 2012 planning rule. A product of significant public input, this new framework guides development of land management plans that ensure sustainable ecosystems and promote vibrant communities.
Public input into both the proposed planning directives and 2012 planning rule played a critical role in helping the agency design an approach to planning that is adaptive and effective. The agency sought public comment on proposed planning directives in February, 2013. Over 16,000 comments representing diverse communities and interests from across the country shaped the final planning directives. In addition to the public comments, detailed recommendations from the Federal Advisory Committee (FACA Committee) formed by the Secretary of Agriculture are reflected in the directives.
“I extend my gratitude to the FACA Committee, whose input and recommendations are strongly reflected in the final planning directives,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “I also thank the many thousands of citizens who provided comment and are working locally with Forests to implement the 2012 Planning Rule. This was a true collaborative endeavor.”
Forest Service land management plans guide management activities on the 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in the National Forest System. The 2012 Planning Rule provides a collaborative and science-based framework for creating land management plans which will support ecological sustainability and contribute to rural economies.
There are 19 national forests that have begun to revise their land management plans under the 2012 Planning Rule. The agency has considered and incorporated feedback from these forests based on their recent experiences with the plan revision process.
The final Planning Directives, along with background information, can be accessed at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule, at any regional Forest Service office or by calling (202) 205-1449. A Notice of Availability will be published in the Federal Register next week. A news release from the FACA committee regarding the Final Directives can be accessed at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/planningrule/committee.
The mission of the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.