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Stakeholders’ meet on White River’s future

Jeremy Heiman

A last round of public involvement in the creation of a new management plan for the White River National Forest is under way.

The meetings of six so-called stakeholder groups, convened by invitation, are intended to make certain the voices of all those concerned about the White River’s future are heard.

The first two groups, motorized recreationists and nonmotorized recreationists, met in the Glenwood Springs Ramada Inn Tuesday afternoon and evening. Two more meetings, one for local government officials and the other for developed recreation interests such as ski areas, were held Wednesday in Avon.

A third pair of meetings will convene in Lakewood Monday. Stakeholders invited to that meeting are environmental groups and owners of second homes within the White River National Forest area.

After the stakeholder meetings are completed next week, Forest Supervisor Martha Ketelle said, the forest plan’s alternatives will be reanalyzed in light of the results.

U.S. Forest Service officials structured the meetings to allow each of the participants to voice the values they would like to see embodied in the new plan. They were then asked what attributes the plan should have that could be used to measure how well the values, or objectives, were achieved.

This step is a standard part of the creation of any new forest management plan, Ketelle said. The information gathered will be considered for incorporation in both the forest plan itself and the accompanying travel management plan, which was separated from the rest of the management plan last year, she said.

Because the stakeholder groups are concerned with snowmobiling, motorcycling, bicycling, cross-country skiing and hiking in the forest, most of the values and attributes suggested in both of Tuesday’s meetings are specific to travel management. Certainly, because the objectives of some of the user groups are at odds with those of others, and because some are at odds with federal law or other mandates, not all the values can be incorporated in the plan.

Other items which will influence the forest plan to some degree are the listing of the lynx as threatened under the Endangered Species Act last March and the Roadless Rule, a directive handed down by President Clinton in January.

A final forest management plan is expected to be released in August. Public comments on the travel management plan for the forest will be taken until November, and forest officials intend to release the final travel management plan next February.


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