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Forest Service seeks comments on drafts

by The Western News
| January 5, 2012 1:09 PM

Public forums slated for Forest Plan and Draft EIS released Tuesday

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on the Draft Forest Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Kootenai National Forest released Tuesday.

The collaborative development of the draft plan spanned more than 10 years and was shaped by the best available science, current laws and public input gathered at 30 public meeting and more than 140 public community-based work groups. These meetings identified the core values of local communities and highlighted the many points of agreement that exist among diverse participants.

“This draft plan is a key step in moving forward for management of the Kootenai National Forest”, said Kootenai National Forest Supervisor Paul Bradford. “Many years of hard work and collaboration have resulted in a draft plan that addresses the multiple demands our forest faces.”

The Forest Service is scheduling public open houses at local offices in January where Kootenai National Forest staff will be available to provide information on the forest plan revision process and how to submit comments on the draft documents. Planned dates and locations are as follows:

• Jan. 24, 4 to 7 p.m.: Libby –Ponderosa Room;

• Jan. 26, 4 to 7 p.m.: Eureka – High School;

• Jan. 31, 4 to 7 p.m.: Troy – Senior Center

• Feb. 2, 4 to 7 p.m.: Trout Creek – the Lakeside Motel Conference Room

The national forest faces many challenges including increasing demands for multiple uses on the Kootenai National Forest and development of surrounding lands.

The Draft 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 Draft Plan addresses needs to: supply clean water; restore and maintain ecosystems; improve the resistance and resiliency of the forest vegetation to wildfire, undesirable disturbances and potential climate change effects; provide financially and ecologically sustainable access to the forest; offer a diversity of recreation opportunities including remote settings; and utilize best available science.

The documents released Tuesday are available for download and review online at www.fs.fed.us/kipz.