Juneau to hold forest planning roundtable

Meetings will determine future forest management

Posted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Juneau is the site of one of nine roundtables to be held across the nation as part of an effort to rewrite the U.S. Forest Service's planning rule.

The roundtable will give residents a chance to comment on how planning on the agency's 193 million acres of forest and grasslands should be done in the future.

"We encourage people to go out and speak about all the values the forest has," said Southeast Alaska Conservation Society Spokesman Mark Gnadt.

SEACC plans to encourage the Forest Service to include renewable energy in its future planning, Gnadt said.

The Forest Service began the process of developing a new planning rule in December, when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the project and indicated forest management could take a new turn.

"Our national forests and grasslands are great natural treasures that we must conserve and restore for the benefit of future generations," Vilsack said in December. "Developing a new planning rule provides the opportunity to manage national forests and grasslands for the benefit of water resources, the climate and local communities."

The roundtable will be held at Centennial Hall on April 13 in two separate session, from 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., to increase a chance for public participation. Both sessions are open to the general public.

In addition to the roundtable meeting in Juneau, the Forest Service will host a national science forum, three national roundtables and eight other regional roundtables. The public can also participate in an online blog and follow the planning process on Twitter.

The planning rule sets out how the forest plan in each unit should be drawn up. Required by the National Forest Management Act of 1976, forest plans are rewritten every 10 years.

The Tongass Land Management Plan was published in 2008, so new rules would not take effect in Southeast Alaska for at least a decade.

The roundtable is open to the public but attendees are encouraged to register by contacting facilitator Jan Caulfield, who can also describe how to participate via the web and telephone for those unable to travel to Juneau.

• Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or kim.marquis@juneauempire.com.

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