As many folks know the various national forests always seem to be working on a new forest plan. The forest plans have always required a lot of public input, plus a serious environmental impact statement. They have had to redo forest plans because of inaccurate or politically inspirated data in their EISs.

My experience is that forest plans make a big difference. If an area is judged suitable for grazing, for example, no matter how much greater its value may be in an alternative use such as nationally important fishery, you can’t get the damn cows out without an amended forest plan.

Now the Forest Service is arguing that no real decisions are made with Forest plans, so no environmental impact statement is needed. Of course, conservation groups are suing them.

There are some who agree with the Forest Service (I mean people who are not Bush Administration political appointments).

Here is a link to a blog established by a number of college professors interested in forest policy and Forest Service people (all are operating this blog as individuals, not in their capacity as a Forest Service employee or position at a university).

Time to Abandon the Forest Planning Process?

I should add the Forest Service can’t just end the process because the National Forest Management Act of 1976 says they will do forest plans, and that they will revise them. I don’t really see how they can get away with this “reform.”

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

4 Responses to Time to Abandon the Forest Planning Process?

  1. kt says:

    Well, Ralph – I agree wholeheartedly! Forest Plans, BLM Land Use Plans like the new Draft Pocatello RMP, REALLY REALLY REALLY matter.

    That’s the difference between someone who gets out in the real world dodging the cow poop and the stumps, vs. those who somehow seem to have made a virtual career of braying over some kind of “New Way Forward” sans NEPA, NFMA, FLPMA, and any real accountability.

    Some of the people on that Website need to think long and hard about how they might be being used as a pawn of industry and public lands privatizers … or maybe they really deep down know that is the case, but the allure of a platform to pontificate from is just too great …

  2. Dave Iverson says:


    Thanks for noticing our struggling, little effort re: Forest Policy. I hyperlinked your blog to that one…

    As to kt’s comment: “Some of the people on that Website need to think long and hard about how they might be being used as a pawn of industry ” I think that mostly folks would argue the opposite case. But we on “that Website” strive to be “fair and balanced,” albeit balanced a bit differently than, say, Fox News.

  3. be says:

    any action which cuts out public oversight – or reduces it – is an action that makes industry smile. the use of categorical exclusions, especially broad sweeping ones, and the reduction of processes which rely on public input may make forest “planning” more effecient, but the real question is… more efficient for what? what is the value of efficiency when industry horns become more and more the only voices heard when considering the ‘public interest’.

    considering the direction the agency has been tending, i would argue we need less efficiency in forest planning and more public input, not less.

  4. kt says:

    I find it interesting that the same folks who say it’s time to abandon the Forest Plan that sets out a basis for controlling and managing uses on our public lands, would likely be all in favor of County or minicipality Planning to prevent sprawl, limit where you can or can not build a medical waste incineration facility/power plant/industrial zone, etc.

    So why doesn’t the public, on our shared lands, deserve the same?

    In saying we need to do away with Forest Plans, the door is opened for a free-for-all where whoever has the most money or political pull to get their way will be able to ransack the public’s forests, waters and wild lands.

    Hey, I have an idea – let’s have there be no set curriculum, teaching schedule or plan for the Political Science program at Boise State. Let’s just have it be an Open University. I’ll show up tomorrow, and give a class on the hot topic du jour.

    The No Need for A Plan for Public Lands mindset is sort of like the Bush admin’s global policy – let chaos reign, so corporations or other private interests can reap profits, sow up resources, etc.

    It’s a privatization agenda where those with the most $$$ or political muscle will triumph …



‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey