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INF seeks public input before implementing new forest plan

November 12, 2012

The Inyo National Forest is inviting residents and stakeholders to participate in two workshops to develop a plan for collaboration as forest officials move forward with the Forest Plan, which will guide the federal agency on its forest management techniques. Photo courtesy Inyo National Forest

Residents are being invited to work with the Inyo National Forest as it prepares to implement a new plan.
Forest officials are hoping to get local residents and forest stakeholders involved at a public meeting Friday, Nov. 16 or Saturday, Nov. 17. At both meetings, officials will discuss how the Forest Service will work with the public as it begins the three-year Forest Planning Rule Revision process.
The INF has been designated as an “early adopter” forest by the Forest Service, indicating that it will be in the first tier of eight national forests to revise their Forest Plan under the new National Forest Land Management Planning Rule adopted earlier this year.
The Inyo’s existing plan was completed in 1988, and Forest Service officials say it is outdated and does not meet current needs.
Forest Plans provide strategic direction to guide the management of forest resources. The Forest Service said each Forest’s plan provides a framework that guides site-specific project and activity decision making.
The new Planning Rule directs that the Forest Plans will be “science-based and developed collaboratively with stakeholders who are interested in the management of national forests,” a press release from the Forest Service states. “The INF is committed to collaboration, improving transparency in the planning process, and strengthening the role of public involvement in the process through opportunities for dialogue about forest plan issues.”
INF Public Information Officer Nancy Upham said this week’s meetings are designed to allow the public to weigh in on how they will be involved in the three-step, three-year plan.
“This is for anyone who wants to be involved, who feels they are affected by the Planning Rule,” Upham said. “This is all about how the public will be involved in this process, how we will engage stakeholders.”
INF Supervisor Ed Armenta said the meetings are an opportunity for anyone who is interested in learning more about the Forest Plan Revision Process, and specifically about the collaborative process the INF is proposing to use, to come to one of the two workshops.
The two workshops are identical and are being planned to accommodate those who can best attend during the work week and those who can best attend outside of normal working hours. Both workshops will be held from 9 a.m.-noon in Bishop at the INF Supervisor’s Office at 351 Pacu Ln. (off of West Line Street by the DMV).
The first half of each workshop will include a presentations and opportunities for questions and answers regarding the Forest Plan Revision process. The presentation will include an orientation to what a Forest Plan is and what it is not; and a presentation on a Draft Collaboration and Communication Plan for the Plan Revision effort.
The second half of the workshop will be an interactive format where participants will have an opportunity to work together on helping to finalize the Collaboration and Communication Plan.
Items to be discussed include topics such as prioritizing communication tools and techniques for involving a diverse array of stakeholders, collaborative opportunities for the three-year Plan Revision process, and how to monitor the progress of the communication and collaboration effort. The workshops will be facilitated by Center for Collaborative Policy Facilitator Laura Kaplan.
Upham said the Forest Service has hired a facilitator, to monitor the meetings and help stakeholders reach agreeable terms for moving forward.
An opportunity to participate in the workshop via conference call and webinar will be available for the first half of the workshop, with those participating in this way having the ability to provide feedback on the workshop topics in a written format.
Upham also said that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors has been invited to the meetings.
For more information about the workshops or the Forest Plan Revision process, or to find out how to participate remotely, call Public Affairs Officer Nancy Upham at (760) 873-2427, or e-mail her at nupham@fs.fed.us.

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