Forest Service extends White River public comment period |

Forest Service extends White River public comment period

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Forest Service has extended the public comment period for the proposed revision of the management plan for the White River National Forest.

Due to requests from Congressman Scott McInnis and other elected officials, including the Pitkin County commissioners, the comment period has been extended from 90 days to 180 days. The comment period will now end on February 9, 2000. Comments mailed to White River National Forest headquarters must be postmarked by that date.

All comments on the plan will be considered before the documents are finalized. The forest plan could be changed substantially as a result of comments received. “We are looking for meaningful, substantive, detailed comments,” said Forest Supervisor Martha Ketelle.

The draft plan, a 15-pound box of documents distributed at the end of July, is an intermediate product, assembled only to be revised into a final document. The standard public comment period for such a plan is 90 days.

The White River Forest, like other national forests, must have a master plan to guide decisions regarding forest assets. The final plan derived from this draft will replace the current forest plan, in effect since 1984. Work on the new draft plan started in 1991. Public input (called scoping) in 1996 and 1997 was the source of some of the important ideas in the plan.

The draft plan incorporates an environmental impact statement, which evaluates the anticipated effects of various aspects of the plan. Like all environmental impact statements, this one analyzes a number of suggested alternatives and selects a preferred alternative.

Alternative D, the one chosen as the preferred alternative, has been criticized by both environmental groups and groups that advocate motorized recreation in public lands.

The draft planning documents are available for review at local public libraries and all White River National Forest offices. Electronic copies of the documents may also be reviewed on the national forest Web site,

Questions about the planning documents should be directed to any White River National Forest district office or the supervisor’s office, (970) 945-2521. Forest Service employees also welcome opportunities to explain the planning documents to groups or organizations.

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