South Lake Tahoe, Calif. – The U.S. Forest Service has released a final plan that will guide management of National Forest System lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin for the next 15 years. “The final plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit represents the culmination of many years of work for the Forest Service and reflects many of the ideas and views expressed by members of the public and other agencies and groups”, said Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore.
The Forest Service has invited multiple rounds of public comment on the forest plan, most recently receiving approximately 18,500 comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Draft Plan. The plan now enters a 60-day period during which those who previously submitted formal comments may file a written objection by close of business on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, if they believe their comments were not addressed. The close of the objection period is followed by a 90-day objection resolution period, during which the Forest Service will work with those objecting to determine whether the agency can resolve their concerns. Because the plan is approved by Regional Forester Randy Moore, the Chief of the Forest Service (Washington, DC) will oversee the objection resolution process. After the objection resolution period, the Regional Forester will sign a Record of Decision (ROD), and the revised Forest Plan will take effect.
“Whether or not the final plan reflects your comments, I want to assure you that we considered every comment seriously,” said LTBMU Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson. “That 18,500 individuals and organizations took the time to comment on this plan gives me hope for the future of Lake Tahoe.”
The plan is accompanied by a Final EIS that analyzes five alternatives (A-E). Alternative E, the agency preferred alternative, incorporates elements of other alternatives and responds to comments on the DEIS and the science consistency review conducted by the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station. Primary issues addressed by public comment include how actively the Forest Service should work to restore watersheds and aquatic ecosystems, how aggressively the agency should manage forest health and hazardous fuels, and whether recreation opportunities, facilities, roads and trails should be expanded or reduced.
The final plan continues active restoration of watersheds, streams and wildlife habitat, continues active fuels reduction, seeks to restore forest structure through tree-thinning and prescribed fire, and allows for limited recreation expansion on higher capability lands. Access to roads and trails and vehicle parking would remain approximately the same, while the Forest Service would continue to work with partners to develop transit alternatives to reach Forest Service facilities. The final plan adds the Stanford Rock Backcountry Area, approximately 3,800 acres between Blackwood and Ward canyons, but does not recommend new wilderness designations.
The Forest Service will hold two webinars to explain the final plan, highlight changes from the draft and outline the remainder of the plan revision process. The first will be Monday, December 9, 2013, from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. The second webinar will take place from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. The webinars will feature a brief presentation, followed by a question and answer period, and they will be archived on the LTBMU website for later viewing. The plan, FEIS and draft ROD and details on the webinars will be posted at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/
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