The American Sheep Industry, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Public Lands Council and the Association of National Grasslands were joined by state sheep and beef associations and other industries, forestry, logging and mining, in requesting an extension of the comment period for comments on the National Forest System Land Management Planning Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Multiple uses on federal lands, such as grazing, timber, recreation and mining, employ many thousands of individuals across the nation and, therefore, allowing an additional 90 days would provide the time needed for interested parties to refine their views, leading to a better final rule.
There are numerous issues of interest and importance to multiple use organizations that need to be thoroughly vetted within the community so that a thorough and helpful set of comments can be provided to the Forest Service (FS). Some of these issues include the proposed changes to the viability provision in the 1982 regulations; the proper approach and methodology for considering scientific information; the implementation of the proposed three-step process of assessment, development/revision/amendment and monitoring; the level of participation by private landowners in the planning process; the level of coordination with local governments recognized as required by the agency; provisions for sustaining social, economic, and ecological systems; resource management; and the development, funding and staffing of future monitoring protocols.
Also, it has been learned that the FS has convened a group of external scientists to review and provide advice to the agency regarding the proposed planning rule. Since there is no information yet available on this panel, additional time is needed to obtain and review information about the recently convened scientific group.
It is for these reasons that a request to extend the comment period by 90 days is being made.