The development of the revised Forest Plan spanned more than 12 years and is shaped by the best available science, current laws and public input gathered at numerous public meetings and open houses, as well as more than 100 public community-based work group sessions. These meetings identified the core values of local communities and highlighted the many points of agreement that exist among diverse participants.
“Completion of this plan is a great benefit to our national forest because it updates our guidance to better respond to the challenges the Forest Service faces in managing our natural resources today,” said Idaho Panhandle National Forests Supervisor Mary Farnsworth. “Based on the wide ranging input we have received from our communities and forest visitors, we believe this plan reflects the best possible balance for our national forest today and into the future.”
Much has changed in north Idaho since the original forest plan was implemented in 1987. Today, the national forest faces many challenges including increasing demands for multiple uses on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests and development of surrounding lands. The revised Forest Plan lays the foundation to address the ecological and social needs of forest stakeholders, while continuing the legacy of protecting water and restoring forests that began a century ago with the Weeks Act. Management direction in the Forest Plan addresses needs to: supply clean water, restore and maintain ecosystems, improve the resistance and resiliency of the forest vegetation to undesirable disturbances and potential climate change effects, offer a diversity of recreation opportunities including remote settings, and utilize best available science.
The revised Forest Plan, Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Record of Decision are subject to a pre-decisional objection process. Following the publication of notices in the Forest’s newspapers of record (the Ceour d’Alene Press and the Missoulian) later this week, there will be a 60-day objection filing period followed by a 90-day objection review period. The objection process provides an opportunity for objectors and interested parties to discuss their issues with a reviewing officer from the USDA Forest Service’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Reviewing Officer will be assigned to work with objectors and interested parties to understand and potentially resolve objections. At the end of the objection review period the Reviewing Officer will respond to each objection and issue instructions to the US Forest Service’s Northern Rockies Regional Forester who will implement those instructions prior to signing the Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Specific information regarding eligibility to file an objection, how to become an interested party, and how to file an objection are posted on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests planning web page and on the Kootenai-Idaho Panhandle Zone forest plan revision website.
The documents released today are available for download online at www.fs.usda.gov/kipz. These documents are also available for viewing at your local Forest Service office. Compact discs or hard copies of these documents may be requested by phone (208) 765-7417 or email (IPNFplanrevision@fs.fed.us).