Every five years the Forest Service must re-evaluate how it’s managing the national forests.
The Tongass National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan was last updated in 2008.
It’s under review again this year and the Forest Service is asking Southeast community members for their input.
Austin O’Brien, District Staff Officer for the Timber Program in the Wrangell Ranger District, explains what kind of feedback they’re hoping to get.
“We’re looking for things that are working. You know, information from people that think things are working well. But also, at the same time, we’re looking at things that could be done differently—that might, kind of, improve the services that we provide,” said O’Brien.
He says community comment is important because it brings a local voice to a plan that deals with regional issues.
The plan covers a wide range of management topics including timber, recreation, and open lands.
“The plan sets the harvest limits on the forest. That’s one of the major things it does. It also designates the different land use areas. So, you know, we break the forest up into different land use designations where certain activities are permitted or encouraged and then maybe some are not,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien says they are encouraging people to think about the big picture of the Tongass when commenting. He says feedback on very specific issues should be directed to local Forest Service offices.
“The one thing about the forest plan is it doesn’t drill down into real specific details as to, you know, a particular campsite necessarily…type of thing. You know, the more specific plans are usually held at a district level. But, this is more of a broad look on how the Tongass is managed,”said O’Brien.
You can find out more information about the five-year review on the Forest Service website (by going to fs.usda.gov).
There will be a public comment session Thursday, February 07, 2013, from 6-8pm in the Wrangell Borough Assembly Chambers.