Concerns voiced on FS regsWritten by Christy Martinez
May 16 marks the deadline for comments on Forest Service planning regulations, and many national groups have signed onto a draft of an extensive set of comments on the topic.
Jim Magagna of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association says his group will sign onto those comments, and will also submit their own. He says he sees two big issues with the planning regulations.
“The first is the topic of ‘species of viability,’” he says. “That is what the Forest Service, under the current rule, has used to shut down domestic sheep grazing because of interaction with bighorn sheep, and this rule extends that concept from vertebrate species to all species, including plants and insects.”
The second topic relates to a shift away from a multiple use focus.
“This set of rules talks about multiple use on an equal basis with things like climate change, and they also give recreation its own little spot, and nothing is defined in terms of outputs,” says Magagna. “It’s all about protection, with no outputs of grazing or recreation days. Everything is measured in terms of the resource.”
This set of regulations would guide how individual forest plans are developed in the future. Currently the Shoshone Forest is updating their plan under the 1982 planning rule. There were rules released in 1995 and 2002, but both were shut down by the courts, returning rules twice to the 1982 version.
“We tried to get a 90-day extension to the comment period because of its complexity, and because the Forest Service also recently released an independent scientific study of the regulations, but we received a letter denying that extension,” states Magagna.
The Forest Service began a year ago with public scoping meetings throughout the west and a series of meetings held in Washington, D.C. More recently, another round of meetings were held, one of which was in Cheyenne, to give an overview of what was in the regulations.
“The development of the regulations had a lot of public input, but the opportunity to comment on the actual final draft has been more limited,” says Magagna of the reasoning behind requesting the denied comment period extension.