At the National Trails Symposium, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service today detailed its agenda for meeting the public’s growing demand for recreation on national forests and grasslands.
The new Recreation Agenda was completed after two national and 14 local recreation summit meetings were held across the country. The Forest Service asked environmental groups, recreation organizations, industry representatives, individual recreational users, local citizens and elected officials to review draft versions and recommend modifications.
Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck said, “The Forest Service is the number one supplier of outdoor recreation in the world. This plan will help us ensure people continue to enjoy their public lands, and that together we continue to protect the natural beauty and environment that draws them to these natural wonders.”
“Recreation is one of the most important roles of the national forests,” said Denny Bschor, director of the Forest Service’s Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness programs.
“Inevitable increases in the number of visitors to national forest lands will continue to strain the ability of the land and forest recreation personnel to cope. By calling for close cooperation among all of the various interests, the new agenda will help us meet the growing recreation demand in harmony with the land,” Bschor said.
The agenda states that the Forest Service will strive to stay in closer touch with forest users. Within the limits of the land, the agenda states, the Forest Service will use the limited financial resources available to set priorities for recreation maintenance; will use various opportunities to leverage available funding; will improve how the Forest Service conducts the business side of recreation; and will form partnerships for conservation education.
Bschor emphasized that the agenda does not call for increasing the number of visitors to National Forest System Lands. “We welcome everyone,” he said, “but the focus of the agenda is improving the recreation experience for visitors and minimizing and reversing any negative impact on the land.”
The Forest Service will evaluate how well the Recreation Agenda is working on an ongoing basis. “We will learn more as we go along,” said Bschor, “and we will apply what we learn to continuously improve the recreation experience for all of our visitors.”
The Forest Service Recreation Agenda is available on the Internet athttp://www.fs.fed.us/recreation.