For­est Ser­vice is­sues fi­nal pol­icy for over-snow ve­hi­cles on na­tional forests, grass­lands

Sno-Dak News - - Product Review -

Pol­icy com­plies with fed­eral court or­der WASH­ING­TON Jan­uary 27, 2015 at 10:00am

The U.S. For­est Ser­vice to­day re­leased the fi­nal pol­icy for man­ag­ing snow­mo­bile and other “over-snow” ve­hi­cle use on na­tional forests and grass­lands. As di­rected by court or­der, the pol­icy re­quires that roads, trails and ar­eas where over-snow ve­hi­cle use can oc­cur be specif­i­cally des­ig­nated by lo­cal For­est Ser­vice mangers. Pre­vi­ously, man­agers had the dis­cre­tion to de­cide whether to des­ig­nate spe­cific ar­eas for over-snow ve­hi­cle use.

“The For­est Ser­vice al­ways seeks to pro­vide a wide range of mo­tor­ized and non-mo­tor­ized recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said U.S. For­est Ser­vice Chief Tom Tid­well. “This pol­icy main­tains com­mu­nity in­put and lo­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing so that those with knowl­edge of lo­cal ar­eas can de­cide how to best bal­ance nat­u­ral re­source is­sues with le­git­i­mate recre­ational uses of na­tional for­est land.”

Many forests and grass­lands cur­rently have over-snow des­ig­na­tions—more than 40 per­cent of na­tional forests where snow depths can ac­com­mo­date over-snow ve­hi­cles have guid­ance con­sis­tent with the fi­nal pol­icy—and the agency has di­rected all re­main­ing for­est su­per­vi­sors where the pol­icy ap­plies to make the pro­vid­ing lo­cal guid­ance a pri­or­ity. The pol­icy main­tains the re­quire­ment that all des­ig­na­tions must be made with pub­lic in­put as well as en­sure pro­tec­tion of nat­u­ral resources, such as wa­ter and soils and wildlife, while con­tin­u­ing ap­pro­pri­ate recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties for over-snow and other recre­ational uses. The court’s or­der en­sures that the fi­nal pol­icy also pro­vides con­sis­tency across all forests and grass­lands by re­quir­ing des­ig­na­tion of ar­eas where over-snow use is al­lowed.

The pol­icy, sched­uled to be pub­lished on Wed­nes­day, Jan. 28 (link is ex­ter­nal) in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter, is for­mal­ized in 30 days. The For­est Ser­vice re­viewed more than 20,000 com­ments on the pro­posed guide­lines, which were pub­lished in June, 2014.

The best-known use of over-snow ve­hi­cles is recre­ation. How­ever, over snow ve­hi­cles are also used for other pur­poses such as gath­er­ing fire­wood and sub­sis­tence hunt­ing. Na­tion­ally, the U.S. For­est Ser­vice man­ages more than 200,000 miles of roads and 47,000 miles of trails that are open to mo­tor-ve­hi­cle use. Th­ese roads and trails vary from sin­gle-track trails used by mo­tor­cy­cles to roads de­signed for high-clear­ance ve­hi­cles such as log­ging trucks.

The fi­nal pol­icy will pre­serve ex­ist­ing de­ci­sions gov­ern­ing over-snow ve­hi­cle use that were made un­der pre­vi­ous author­i­ties with pub­lic in­volve­ment; al­low de­ci­sions for over-snow ve­hi­cle use to be made in­de­pen­dently or in con­junc­tion with de­ci­sions for other types of mo­tor ve­hi­cle use; and lo­cal units will cre­ate over-snow ve­hi­cle use maps sep­a­rate from use maps for other kinds of mo­tor ve­hi­cles.

The mis­sion of the For­est Ser­vice, part of the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, is to sus­tain the health, di­ver­sity, and pro­duc­tiv­ity of the Na­tion’s forests and grass­lands to meet the needs of present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. The agency man­ages 193 mil­lion acres of pub­lic land, pro­vides as­sis­tance to state and pri­vate landown­ers, and main­tains the largest forestry re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion in the world. Pub­lic lands the For­est Ser­vice man­ages con­trib­ute more than $13 bil­lion to the econ­omy each year through vis­i­tor spend­ing alone. Those same lands pro­vide 20 per­cent of the Na­tion’s clean wa­ter sup­ply, a value es­ti­mated at $7.2 bil­lion per year. The agency has either a di­rect or in­di­rect role in ste­ward­ship of about 80 per­cent of the 850 mil­lion forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 mil­lion acres are ur­ban forests where most Amer­i­cans live. USDA is an equal op­por­tu­nity provider and em­ployer. To file a com­plaint of dis­crim­i­na­tion, write to USDA, As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for Civil Rights, Of­fice of the As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for Civil Rights, 1400 In­de­pen­dence Av­enue, S.W., Stop 9410, Wash­ing­ton, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Fed­eral-re­lay) or (800) 845-6136 (Span­ish Fed­eral-re­lay).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.