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Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) Call to Action
To all pilots who want continued access to National Forest lands and waters:
The United States Forest Service is in the process of revising its entire land management planning process. This has not been done since 1982. The USFS has held round table meetings throughout the country to gain public input. RAF representatives have attended most of these sessions. Following extensive public input, a draft plan (RULE) was published in the Federal Register on February 14, 2011, Vol. 76, No. 30, page 8480. Following a long preamble, the actual draft RULE begins on page 8514. To read the entire document and to learn more on the process, go to: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/planningrule Following this publication of the draft RULE, a series of public meetings were again held throughout the country to answer questions from the public and provide information on how to comment on this draft plan. Specific “for the record” comments were not accepted at this second series of meetings. However, the USFS is now accepting public comments on the draft RULE and they must be received by May 16, 2011.
What can you do?
Read over the draft RULE to get an idea of what is going on. Take particular note of page 8519, paragraph 219.10 Multiple uses. Recreation gets the short end compared to timber in paragraph 219.11 Recreation is being combined with numerous other uses, even including utility corridors. Also, look at the definitions on page 8525, where the closest thing to recreation is “sustainable recreation”. That is why the RAF is suggesting more definitions. At least we got “dispersed recreation on land, water and air” inserted as this was the major message from the RAF at the initial public meetings.
Talking points you may consider are:
1) Recreation on USFS lands is a growth “industry” while timber harvest is declining. Over the next twenty years the USFS will experience increased demands from the public for a variety of recreational opportunities and must have a rule making process in place that can rapidly respond to these demands. Therefore, recreation must be specifically addressed as a standalone component of the plan.
2) The RULE should address in more detail all the various multiple use categories as each has unique characteristics and potential for growth. Recreation should be one of these broad categories.
3) It is the intent of Congress that recreational aviation and backcountry airstrips on public lands be given specific consideration as evidenced by U.S. House Resolution 1473, passed on September 20, 2010.
4) Recreation access methods should be enumerated and include aircraft landing sites on land and water in order to facilitate dispersed recreation with internal trail heads.
5) Recreation facilities should not be included with general transportation systems (which would include railroads and interstate highways) and utility corridors. They are generally unrelated to each other and require different management strategies.
6) In order to gain national uniformity in Forest Service plans, language in the RULE should give specific direction and not use words such as “may” and “could”. The use of these types of verbs in the RULE will lead to excess flexibility between various line officers, where planners may easily interject their own personal biases.
7) "Social” and “Economic” issues should receive the same consideration as “Ecological” issues.
8) The Planning Rule should state that people writing Travel Management Plans shall adhere to the Planning Rule.
9) Suggest that this re-write of the RULE give the individual citizen the freedom to recreate on USFS lands unless specifically denied that freedom in specific areas for good cause as determined periodically by the Forest Service. The USFS is thus not granting permission in this re-write as much as it is withholding this liberty for a good specific reason in specific areas. It puts the responsibility on the USFS to make a good case in each instance of limiting access.
Comments can be submitted electronically to: www.govcomments.com.
Or mail to:
Forest Service Planning DEI
c/o Bear West Company
132 East 500 South
Bountiful, UT 84010
Be sure to put the words “planning rule” on the first page or on the cover sheet. The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) has been attending these planning meetings, beginning with the first ones in Washington, D.C. Upon review of the draft RULE, the RAF has determined that the draft has significant short comings in regard to recreation and access for recreation purposes. The RAF has developed a detailed comment that includes suggested specific wording changes and additions to the draft text. However, it is important that individual pilots and other aviation organizations send in comments that are original (in your own words) and help the planners make a decision. All form letters will be considered as one comment. Do not just vent your frustrations.
Chuck Jarecki, RAF Director
28517 Rocky Point Road
Polson, MT 59860