The Forest Service will release the Proposed Action for the revised Land and Resource Management Plans for the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, collectively referred to as the Blue Mountains forests, on March 29 and begin the 60-day public comment period. The Proposed Action is the result of the collaborative efforts made over the last several years and serves as a starting point for the formal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process which will include the development of an environmental impact statement.
“Open houses are scheduled in April to help people become familiar with the proposed future management of the Blue Mountains forests,” said Katie Countryman, Team Leader for the forest plan revision effort.
Each public meeting will begin at 5 p.m. with an hour of informal open house format followed by formal presentations beginning at 6 p.m. Team members will remain after the presentations to visit with individuals and answer questions.
Meetings will end at 8 p.m. Open houses will be held in John Day, Burns, Pendleton, Heppner, Baker City, La Grande, Joseph and Portland as well as in Dayton and Pasco, Wash. The meeting in Burns will be held on April 7, at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, 17 S. Alder St., in Burns.
“Our goal is to introduce people to the proposed action and help them understand the information so they can formulate their comments,” Countryman said.
Comments are most helpful if received by May 28. Written comments should be addressed to the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision Team, P.O. Box 907, Baker City, OR, 97814. Comments can be dropped off at the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Headquarters at 1550 Dewey Ave, Baker City OR, 97814. Comments can also be sent via e-mail to: blue_mtn_planrevision@ fs.fed.us. Comments generated by the Proposed Action will lead to alternatives to be analyzed in an environmental impact statement.
The Blue Mountains forests began revising their Land and Resource Management Plans in 2003. Forest Plans provide broad direction to the Forest Service about how to manage the natural resources on national forest lands.
“They allow certain activities and uses in certain areas and set the sideboards for those activities and uses,” explained Countryman. Though the Forest Plan Revision Team will produce one analysis document for the Blue Mountains forests, there will be three separate decisions leading to each forest having its own revised forest plan.
The three Blue Mountains forests comprise 5.3 million acres in Northeast Oregon, Southeast Washington and West-Central Idaho, with public lands in 18 counties, three states and major portions of 21 river basins.
For more information, contact the Forest Public Affairs Officer at each National Forest or Katie Countryman, Team Leader, at 541-523-1264. The proposed action, open house information, and other materials are posted on forest plan revision Web site at: www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma/blue_mtn_planrevision/