Editor’s Note: Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), released a list of “talking points” and a letter he sent to Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, on behalf of the Coalition for Recreation in the National Forests and signed by more than 70 organizations describing concerns with the under-development forest planning rule. A copy of the talking points follows;
To FS Chief Tidwell: Talking Points
- The Forest Service is developing a replacement planning rule to guide the development of forest plans which determine recreational access and activities on some 190 million acres of land and water – places attracting hundreds of millions of recreation visits annually.
- The Notice of Intent announcing the Planning Rule Process gave scant attention to the issue of recreation.
- Throughout the public comment period during the planning process, individual enthusiasts and recreational organizations participated in National Roundtables as well as in comments submitted for the record highlighting concerns regarding this oversight.
- Forest Service officials and contractors have assured the recreation community that they “heard” these concerns and that recreation would be made a priority. However, there is widespread concern among recreation groups on the direction the U. S. Forest Service is taking with the Planning Rule and specifically, treatment of recreation based upon the overview of the new rule parameters shared by agency officials at the Fourth and final National Roundtable held in early August.
- The recreation community position is clear: recreation is a key use of national forests under various laws, including MUSY, NFMA and NEPA. Further, recreation is a primary contributor to economic viability of communities throughout the nation. And recreation on national forests is also an important factor in aiding the nation overcome lifestyle threats to our health – particularly those caused by lessened physical activity.
- The recreation community also calls upon the Forest Service to include in the rule direction to national forests to be more proactive in managing recreation, and in seeking out partners able to assist in managing and enhancing recreation – including state agencies, organized recreationists and businesses. This proactive approach will also reduce needless and inappropriate conflicts between and among recreational activities in the forests resulting from inadequate planning and management.
- Rather than wait for the Proposed Rule to be published for comment and then face the potential of a major delay in the rule development if recreation does not receive appropriate consideration, a large and diverse group of recreation organizations chose to write to the Chief of the Forest Service to express our collective concern and to request a meeting for the purpose of explaining our concerns and offering specific recommendations for rule revisions.