Forest Service Unveils Proposed Planning Rule: Coalition for Recreation in National Forest to Analyze How Recreation is Treated

February 10, 2011 (Washington, D.C.) - The US Forest Service today unveiled its Draft Forest Planning Rule which would establish a new national framework to develop land management plans that protect water and wildlife and promote vibrant communities, the agency press release stated. "This proposed planning rule seeks to conserve our forests for the benefit of water, wildlife, recreation and the economic vitality of our rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

To read the full press release and proposed rule, click here.

It will also appear in Monday’s Federal Register, February 14, 2011. The Coalition for Recreation in National Forests (CRNF) has assembled a senior team to take an in-depth look at the draft and then share its analysis of how recreation is treated with the full coalition of nearly 100 recreation and conservation organizations. A conference call on the Draft Rule is planned for the week of February 21st to discuss the draft and CRNF members’ reactions to it.

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman told Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition, that he is eager to hear CRNF’s assessment of the rule. “He said he’s confident that we will see that recreation is prominently featured in the draft,” Mr. Crandall said. The recreation community has made its position clear through meetings, telephone calls and submissions – that the initial Notice of Intent and the public meetings held to guide development of the draft rule seemed to undervalue recreation as a national forest goal. Recreation leaders told Forest Service, USDA and White House officials that recreation is a key, Congressionally-mandated use of National Forests and that recreation is a primary contributor to economic viability for communities throughout the nation. Recreation on National Forests is also an important factor in overcoming lifestyle threats to our health – particularly those caused by lessened physical activity. The recreation community called upon the Forest Service to craft the Planning Rule to direct National Forests to be more proactive in managing recreation, and to actively seek out partners able to assist in managing and enhancing recreation, including state agencies, organized recreationists and businesses. On November 18, 2010, 41 Members of Congress wrote Forest Service Chief Tidwell to reaffirm support for recreation and to state that the Planning Rule must not impose new burdensome regulations or create new obstacles that could ultimately reduce recreational opportunities on Forest lands.