Cleveland NF Forest Plan 2005 Record of Decision

Cleveland NF Forest Plan 2005 Record of Decision

I have reviewed the range of alternatives, read the public comments, and considered the evaluations of the alternatives in the FEIS. Based on all of this, I have selected Alternative 4a for the land management plan for the Cleveland National Forest. Alternative 4a is a modification of the preferred alternative
published in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in 2004.

Alternative 4a was modified (using elements from the range of alternatives) based on the public comments received during the 90-day comment period and from internal review by Forest Service staff. By selecting this alternative, I am approving the revised forest plan that describes in detail the strategic vision, goals, objectives, standards, suitable uses, and land use zones for the Cleveland National Forest that are described in Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the forest plan.

Alternative 4a includes a combination of active management strategies that will be used to conserve or restore the health of the national forest. Most of the existing uses on the national forest are expected to continue. For example, recreation residences are a valid use that will continue, subject to compliance
with the terms and conditions of the cabin owner’s permit. Most of the development (such as roads, developed recreation sites, and administrative structures) that might be expected to occur on the national forest has occurred. The Forest transportation systems (roads) have been built and much expansion should not occur. The decision is based on the concept of gradual change over time, expanding or improving the capacity of existing facilities before building new ones.

My decision strikes a reasonable balance between the sustainability of the national forest and the complex demands expressed by a wide variety of people, groups, and organizations affected by the management of the Cleveland National Forest. Although the responsibility for this decision is mine, I have made the decision using the information and help of many others. Thousands of comments were received during the development of the revised forest plan that began in 2000.

There were many comments about the agency’s ability to effectively manage the national forest with recent trends in budget and a smaller workforce. The challenge remains and we are counting on the help of people working collaboratively with us to reach our common goals. The management of motorized access in the national forest is a good example. The decision clearly emphasizes the retention of motorized public access using the currently
designated National Forest System roads and trails. This policy is important for forest health, the protection of sensitive resources (such as riparian areas or threatened and endangered species habitat), fire suppression, community protection or other important vegetation management activities. In order for this policy to work we will need the help of people working collaboratively to develop public education programs and communication strategies to help explain the importance of managing motorized uses on designated routes.

My decision applies only to the Cleveland National Forest and does not apply to any other federal, state, or private lands, although the effects to these lands and the effects of my decision on lands surrounding the national forest have been considered.

September 20, 2005
Regional Forester, Responsible Official
Pacific Southwest Region
USDA Forest Service

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