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Fri, Feb 09, 2018

RAF Call To Action For All Members: Custer-Gallatin National Forest In MT

Comment Period On Planning Rule Open Through March 5

In 2012, through a collaborative effort involving the RAF, the USFS/USDA published a new Planning Rule to develop, revise and amend FS land management plans. The RAF and others successfully added recreational aviation and the importance of recognizing airstrips as a valid part of USFS infrastructure.

The national Forests are now engaged in revising forest plans using the 2012 Planning Rule and Directives. This Forest Plan will be the planning “Bible” for the next 20-25 years, replacing the 1980s plan.
 
Recently, Montana’s Custer-Gallatin National Forest released a Proposed Action document, which will provide the design content for the new Forest Plan that will direct forest management practices for the next 20 to 25 years. Public comment period ends March 5, 2018.

The RAF asks members to please submit comments and ideas.
 
You may email by using this link:
www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin
Click Forest Plan Revision – then click on Commenting;
 
Or comments may be sent directly to: tinyurl.com/caracgnf
Submit email to cgplanrevision@fs.fed.us
Use Subject line: “Comment – draft plan – CGNF”

The association has some recommended talking points that can be used when making comments, including:

  • USFS airstrips are an important recreational and operational part of the USFS infrastructure. Please ask the FS to change all instances in the Proposed Action where “trails and roads” appear, to read: “trails, roads, and airstrips”.  
  • In many places throughout the proposed document, various forms of recreation are listed and discussed. The 2012 Planning Rule mentions aviation as a valid form of recreation. However, the Proposed Action restricts aviation activities. Please ask the FS to restate aviation as a legitimate access method to National forest lands.
  • Many USFS airstrips are maintained through joint efforts of the USFS and volunteer groups, including the RAF. Please ask the FS to revise the Proposed Action to include guidance for planners on the importance of coordinating with volunteer groups.
  • The Chief of the USFS, the heads of other agencies such as the BLM, and the US Congress, have all published comments on the significance of airstrips as part of an overall balanced public lands transportation system. Unfortunately, not all USFS planners and managers are familiar with the airstrips within their planning area. Please ask the FS to place greater emphasis on their airstrip infrastructure through direct inclusion of airstrip guidance and instructions to planners in the Proposed Action document.
  • Forest Planners may not have detailed knowledge of airstrips; they need instructions on where to find that information. The Proposed Action clearly outlines sources of information when assessing and planning for roads, trails, historic sites, utility corridors, etc. Airstrips need the same considerations so planners will fully understand airfield planning requirements and issues. Please ask the FS to include sources of information on airstrips in the Proposed Action document.
  •  Within the next 10 years, the bulk of baby boomers will retire, increasing pressure on USFS recreational airstrips. The Forest Plan must provide planners with the tools to recognize, assess, and adapt to this increasing demand. Please ask the FS to include recreational aviation and airstrips in order to encompass potential future demand on airstrips.

While the RAF appreciates the collaborative process the USFS/USDA has used to accomplish this tough job, they say some dedicated FS folks overlook aviation when planning. They’ve never been required to do so; and they may be ignorant of recreational aviation. The RAF's purpose is to elevate awareness, so every time a plan is written or revised, airstrips will be included and provided for within that plan. It’s not happening now, but with your help, it can be changed.
 
Helping now will go a long way toward protecting, preserving, and creating recreational airstrips.

(Image provided with RAF news release)

FMI: www.theraf.org

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