Most Viewed Stories
Forest kicks off plan revision process
Public meeting draws large crowd
Officials with the Sequoia National Forest met with a packed-house of stakeholders Thursday night to begin the first phase of a three-year planning process to revise its 1988 forest plan.
The plan, known as the Land and Resource Management Plan, provides direction for the Sequoia National Forest on managing a range of resources and activities such as water, timber, tribal, ecosystems, and recreation on more than half-a-million acres of public land.
The Sequoia is one of three national forests in the Pacific Southwest region of the U.S. Forest Service to implement the “new planning rule” for land management planning for the national forest system in the revision of its plan. The two others are the Sierra National Forest, based in Clovis, and the Inyo National Forest, based in Bishop.
Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliot said that in the last 24 years, the Sequoia forest plan has been “kept somewhat up to date” through various amendments, though he could not recall when the last amendment was made.
Thursday’s meeting was to obtain feedback from the public on existing conditions of the forest. A large crowd filled the forest headquarters’ main conference room, where members of the public listened to forest planner Maria Ulloa give an overview of the revision process.
They also participated in various workshops and chatted with resource specialists over coffee and cookies.
The meeting was part of the assessment phase, and was aimed at developing relationships, understanding existing and future conditions of the forest, and determining what needs to change, Ulloa said.
“Based upon the existing conditions, i.e. what’s broke, that will provide the basis or need for change and hence, three or four or five revision topics; things that when you look at the existing conditions of the Sequoia National Forest, need the most attention,” Elliott said.
The assessment phase will run through 2013, and will be followed by the development of a draft plan and an environmental impact statement in 2014. A public comment period and final approval of the EIS and revised plan are expected in late 2015, and implementation and monitoring will occur sometime in 2016. Forest Plans have a 10- to 15-year life span and must subsequently undergo the revision process. This will be the fourth forest plan Elliott revises, he said, adding that it used to be a costly process.
“In the past it cost millions of dollars and it involved several years and an onerous process,” he said. “The new planning rule is designed to be cheaper, faster, and involve less process. What that price tag is going to be, we don’t know yet.”
Among those in attendance Thursday were Kent Duysen, general manager of Sierra Forest Products, Mike Weinberg, a board member with the Giant Sequoia National Monument Association, and Tulare County Supervisor Mike Ennis.
“The Forest Service really reached out to people,” Weinberg said. “Bureaucrats usually just give you 90 days to smear it with peanut butter, but they’re doing it up front.”
Elliott said the people at the meeting were there because they use and care so passionately about the forest.
“This is their mountain, this is their backyard, this is where they gain their livelihood. So, certainly, they have a vested interest in seeing what the new vision for the Sequoia National Forest is,” he said.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.