Forest Service officials have decided what “needs to change” on the Inyo National Forest as they move forward with a federally mandated Forest Plan Revision. Residents and other forest users are invited to submit comments on the preliminary plan.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region released the final assessments for the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo national forests in late December, along with a bio-regional assessment and a preliminary “Need to Change” document.
Some areas listed in the Preliminary Need to Change document include vegetation, resilience, wildlife, invasive plants and fire management practices. The document outlines current practices for operations like fire fuel reduction programs, and how direction for those practices can be improved in the new Forest Plan.
The assessments were completed with “lengthy public involvement” over a series of public meetings last year and gathered information on current forest conditions to evaluate forest sustainability and identify aspects of the current land management plans that need revising.
The goal of the plan revision is to take stock of current uses and trends on the INF, and revisit scientific evidence of the impacts of those uses. From there, staff will rework the Forest Service’s management direction to ensure that INF staff is, essentially, keeping up with the times.
Currently, the INF is divided into geographic sections, each with unique designated suitable uses, ranging from grazing to recreation. The Forest Service wants to ensure that those uses are still appropriate and see if new uses that were not considered in 1988 – when the current Forest Plan was written – should be added to certain geographic sections.
The current Forest Plan “is outdated in certain ways,” Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta said last year when officials embarked on the revision process. Armenta said that the technology and science used to write the ’88 plan may, in some cases, be outdated, and trends for forest uses may have changed drastically.
“These assessments were fundamental to narrowing our forest plan revisions to those few items that are most in need for updating,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore. “Now we invite the public to provide feedback on the Need to Change so we can move forward with forest plan revisions.”
The forest assessments, bio-regional assessment and the preliminary Need to Change can be found www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/landmanagement/planning .
The Forest Service is hosting a series of public workshops to offer information about the Forest Plan revision process, explain the key themes of each Forest Plan to be revised and gather public feedback on the preliminary Need to Change document.
The public is welcome at any of the upcoming workshops:
• Sierra National Forest: Monday, Jan. 27, at Holiday Inn Fresno Airport, 5090 E. Clinton Way
• Sequoia National Forest: Tuesday, Jan. 28 at the Double Tree Hotel, 3100 Camino del Rio Ct. in Bakersfield
• Inyo National Forest: Thursday, Jan. 30 at the INF Supervisor’s Office, 351 Pacu Ln., Suite 200 in Bishop
Each workshop will be held from 5-9 p.m. with presentations by Forest Service staff. There will be time for small group sessions to learn about specific topics addressed in the preliminary Need to Change, and time to offer feedback.
Public feedback received by Jan. 24 will be incorporated into the public workshop discussions. Feedback on the Need to Change document should be received by Jan. 31, 2014, and may be submitted via email or by hard copy.
Written feedback should be addressed to: Land Management Plan Revision, U.S. Forest Service, Ecosystem Planning Staff, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592. E-mail feedback may be submitted to: FS-R5planrevision@fs.fed.us 
All correspondence received, including names and addresses when provided, are placed in the project record and are available for public inspection and copying at any time.
For more information regarding forest plan revisions, visit the Pacific Southwest Region’s planning website www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/landmanagement/planning .
For forest-specific information, the public is asked to contact that forest directly:
• Sierra NF: Rebecca Garcia at (559) 297-0706 or firstname.lastname@example.org 
• Sequoia NF: Cody Norris at (760) 376-3781 or email@example.com 
• Inyo NF: Deb Schweizer at (760) 873-2427 or firstname.lastname@example.org 
The Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo are three of eight national forests that were selected as “early adopters,” meaning they will be the first to revise their land management plans using the new National Forest System Planning Rule, completed in 2012. The planning rule provides the framework for Forest Service land management plans across the nation.
The Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo’s plan revisions will be completed through developing one environmental impact statement. According to the Forest Service, this single EIS will be an “efficient and cost-effective way” to pool staff expertise.
The final EIS will result in three separate Records of Decision and three separate forest plans. The individual forest supervisors assigned to each region (Ed Armenta on the Inyo) will be responsible for making decisions on their specific forest plans.