Release of plan managing White River delayed until May, Forest Service says | AspenTimes.com

Release of plan managing White River delayed until May, Forest Service says

The U.S. Forest Service is learning that the devil is in the details when it comes to churning out the new document that will dictate management policies for the White River National Forest.

Release of that forest plan was delayed yesterday until at least May, said Forest Service spokeswoman Sue Froeschle. The document was originally scheduled to be released last summer, but its release date has been changed four times.

Forest Service officials insist the delays are inevitable given the size, complexity and importance of the document. Froeschle said the final document will include thousands of pages and weigh at least nine pounds.

She said the document is being reviewed by multiple Forest Service officials for everything from misspelled words to consistency of information.

Once it is checked, it will be presented to regional forester Rick Cables for approval or alteration.

Once the Forest Service has completed that review, it will take the printer four to six weeks to complete the job, according to Froeschle.

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The forest plan is important to everyone who plays in or works around the sprawling, 2 million-acre White River National Forest. It will provide guidance on everything from timber sale policy to ski area expansion and future designation of wilderness.

Conservationists were lobbying hard for a plan that emphasizes wildlife management practices. The forest plan is expected to guide policy for 15 to 20 years.

The plan is also a vital first step in determining what roads and trails will be open for mechanized vehicles. Once it is completed, the federal agency will start work on a travel management plan that looks at roads and trails on a case-by-case basis.

Observers predict that four-wheel enthusiasts, motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle drivers and mountain bikers will find some of their favorite routes closed in the process.

The travel management plan is scheduled to be completed in 2004.

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