Forest Service Planning Process
The Forest Service has a number of forest plans that are undergoing revision. A forest plan directs how the natural resources will be managed for a specific national forest. Included in that plan is the mix of recreational uses that will be permitted. The Forest Service planning regulations do not dictate to the Forest Supervisor what kinds of uses must be permitted. Those decisions are developed during the public scoping process prior to plan development or revision and are finalized through the public comment process on the draft plan. It is therefore critical that hunters and recreational shooters participate in that process if it is underway for a forest that they recreate in. To stay current with the forests that are undergoing plan revisions (and hence the opportunity to participate in shaping management decisions), the Forest Service has posted a schedule on its website. The site is: www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma. Click on "Current Land and Resource Management Plan Schedule." Adobe Acrobat reader is needed to read the information and can be downloaded free at www.adobe.com. NRA encourages its members to participate in land use planning forums to ensure that federal lands such as national forests remain accessible to hunters and shooters.
Bureau of Land Management Planning Process
The Bureau of Land Management is also developing management plans for many of the public lands in the western states. The Bureau`s website address is www.blm.gov. Click on `Planning: Public Meetings` for the location of the planning sites. Public participation is important, as it is with forest lands, in shaping what the mix of recreational uses will be. This is the opportunity to ensure that public lands remain open or are opened to hunting and recreational shooting.
Fish and Wildlife Service Planning Process
The Fish and Wildlife Service is mandated by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act to develop "comprehensive conservation plans" for wildlife refuges. The Act defines hunting and fishing as `priority public uses` of the Refuge System. Over half of the 535 refuges provide for hunting and fishing. Sportsmen need to be actively involved in the refuge planning process in order to protect or expand hunting and fishing opportunities. The Service`s website is http://www.fws.gov/. Unfortunately, there is no listing of refuges undergoing the planning process. You will have to search using the name of the refuge you have an interest in. The Service has prepared a chart listing the refuges undergoing the planning process which is attached.