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Coconino National Forest Spring 2016 Plan Revision Update

coconino national forest welcome centerSedona AZ (April 6, 2016) – It has been a while since the Coconino National Forest revision plan received a public update, writes its revision team at the U.S. Forest Service. Since the conclusion of the 90-day comment period on the draft plan and draft environmental impact statement (DEIS), the team has been focused on reviewing all the comments received on the documents and determining how to address the comments.

Here is the team’s spring 2016 CNF Plan Revision update:

Recap of the Comment Period

During the comment period, we hosted a total of seven public meetings spanning two rounds (three meetings in January 2014 and four meetings in February 2014) which were held in Flagstaff, Sedona and Happy Jack; twenty internal meetings with different resource specialists and district staff; and, other meetings requested by the Hopi Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and a handful of local organizations.

list what is the plan note boardFor round one of the public meetings, our purpose was to inform participants of the contents of the draft plan and DEIS and share tips for reviewing these documents. We also used it as an opportunity to ask participants what topics they wanted additional information on during the following round. Based on their feedback, we narrowed the focus of round two’s discussion to the following topics: dispersed recreation, wildlife and water resources, motorized recreation, wilderness and special areas, and forest uses under permit.

We consider these public meetings a great success as we were able to meet and interact with over 150 people interested in plan revision, discuss important topics identified by meeting participants, and gain a better understanding of different and conflicting perspectives on forest management.

By the end of the comment period, we had heard from over 1,700 commenters through 100 unique comment letters, which included over 1,100 individual comments. Commenters included city, county, and State governments; other Federal agencies; the Navajo Nation and White Mountain Apache Tribe; utility companies; various environmental and user-related organizations; and, individual citizens.

Comments ranged from expressing a preference for a specific plan alternative, to providing alternate analyses, to pointing out typographical errors in the documents. Some of the most common topics included: wilderness recommendations, proposed wildlife habitat management areas, motorized access, recreational shooting, management areas, climate change, species viability, municipal watershed and water supply, use of reclaimed water, management indicator species, and specific language within the plan components (i.e., desired conditions, objectives, etc.).

coconinoWe want to thank all those who participated in our public meetings and those who provided comments on the plan and DEIS. We appreciate the time and energy you devoted to be involved in this important step of the plan revision process and in helping us create a plan for a healthy and sustainable Coconino National Forest. We have tried to honor your efforts by thoughtfully considering all of these comments.

Since the Comment Period

After the comment period closed, we went to work on reviewing the comments and determining how to respond to them. This effort resulted in a comprehensive review of all the action alternatives. In response to the comments we received on the alternatives, we have been adjusting some plan components included in those alternatives. The adjustments are designed to address specific comments, integrate duplicative or redundant plan language, and reorganize the plan to make it easier to use. Taking the public comments and feedback into consideration, the Regional Forester has instructed the Forest to develop and analyze a modified version of Alternative B.

Next Steps

After we complete our internal reviews of the modifications to Alternative B, we will share this near final iteration of the revised plan with you. We hope to have that available in Spring 2016.  In the coming months, we will begin preparing the final EIS, which will analyze the effects of the alternatives with their modifications. As a part of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required by the Endangered Species Act, our team is beginning to compile a biological assessment to analyze the impacts to federally listed threatened and endangered species from implementing the preferred alternative. We expect to formally start the consultation process this summer. Once these steps are complete, the plan and EIS will undergo any necessary final adjustments. This puts us on track to distribute the new revised Plan and the final EIS in Spring 2017.

Personnel Changes

Since our last update, there have been several personnel changes related to the forest plan revision effort. Yewah Lau, Sara Dechter, Emily Stoddard, and Adriane Ragan all left the forest plan revision team to pursue other career opportunities. In June 2014, Vernon Keller joined the forest plan revision team as the Forest Planner. The other vacancies on the forest plan revision team have not been filled. In August 2015, Laura Jo West became our new Forest Supervisor.

Contact Us

As we finalize the plan and EIS, we will continue to keep the public informed of our progress. If you have questions, contact Vernon Keller, Forest Planner, at (928) 527-3415 or vkeller@fs.fed.us. To update your existing contact information, email us at coconino_national_forest_plan_revision_team@fs.fed.us.


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  1. Ernie says:

    Where’s KSB stand on this?

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