Sierra National Forest

August 25, 2016

At the links below, download and read our coalition comments on the draft EIS and forest plan revisions for the Sequoia, Sierra, and Inyo National Forests. This was a huge effort made possible because of the deep commitment, dedication, and expertise of a crack group of core activists on our team. Thousands of pages of (frequently highly technical) documentation had to be carefully read through, vetted, and analyzed in order to identify the many problem areas in the agency's management plans.

Sadly, the DEIS and plans are a big disappointment, and we know the Forest Service can do--and should have done--better. Because of the many omissions and inaccuracies, we have asked for a revision or supplement to the draft plans. In many instances, the findings of leading scientists in their fields, as well as the agency's own scientists, were ignored or simply left out. Further, the massive tree mortality event now taking place throughout the Sierra Nevada, but most notably in the southern end of the range, due to drought and bark beetle epidemic, was not addressed at all--not even mentioned.

The agency has utterly failed to produce a scientifically credible representation of the environmental conditions of the region.

The first link below takes you to the Sierra Forest Legacy coalition's main comment letter, followed by four attachments containing exhibits I -XII. Part 2 lists the attachments.

Part 1. Main comment letter (4.3 MB)

Part 2. List of attachments/exhibits, and Exhibits I - VII (6.7 MB)

Part 3. Exhibits VIII - IX (8.7 MB).

Part 4. Exhibit IX - XII (Maps (10.7 MB).

Part 5. Exhibits XII (continued) (4.4 MB)

May 19, 2016

The Forest Service has released the draft forest plan revisions and draft environmental impact statements for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. The documents can be accessed at this website. The official 90-day timeline for submitting comments to the agency is determined by the publication date in the Federal Register, May 27, 2016; comments must be received by the agency by August 25, 2016. Instructions for submitting public comments electronically are found on the website, or click here. There will also be several opportunities to participate in discussions with the Forest Service at public meetings, and comments may be submitted directly there.

The meeting places and times are posted here.

The Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo’s plan revisions are being completed with a single environmental impact statement (EIS). The final EIS will result in three separate Record of Decisions and three separate forest plans. Forest Supervisors will remain the responsible official for making decisions on their specific forest plan. This Forest Service website contains links to all the plan revisions that we are currently following.

To learn about other on-going forest resource activities, not related to new forest plan revisions in the Sierra National Forest, follow this link.

Below, you can read the comments and letters we've provided recently to the Forest Service relating to the three early adopter (Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests) plan revisions.

February 1, 2016 Comments on draft list of Species of Conservation Concern

February 1, 2016 Wilderness Evaluation Process and Areas Identified for DEIS Analysis

February 1, 2016 Comments on Wild and Scenic River Evaluation

October 23, 2015: Comments on the preliminary draft monitoring program for the revised forest plans
for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra national forests

September 8, 2015: Comments on draft viability analyses for great gray owl and Gilman’s goldenbush

August 18, 2015: Comments on draft species of conservation concern for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra national forests

June 3, 2015: Comments on Proposed Draft Wilderness Areas in Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests

May 27, 2015: Letter Proposing Revised Schedule for Next Forest Plan Revisions

October 30, 2014: Comments on Wilderness Evaluation Process

September 29, 2014

Today Sierra Forest Legacy and our coalition partners submitted scoping comments on the NOI for forest plan revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Coalition partners included American Rivers, California Native Plant Society, California Wilderness Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the River, Mono Lake Committee, Pacific Rivers Council, Sierra Club, Western Watersheds Project, and the Wilderness Society.

The following five files were part of the comment package and can be downloaded here:

SFL et al. scoping comments 9-29-14.pdf

SFL et al. comments on NOI 9-24-14 Appendices A through D.pdf

SFL et al. comments on NOI 9-24-14 Appendices E through G.pdf

SFL et al. comments 9-29-14 Appendix A Tables 1-3

SFL et al. comments 9-29-14 Appendix A Tables 1-9

August 29, 2014

Today the Federal Register published the Forest Service's Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for the joint forest plan revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Download the NOI here, and review all of the scoping materials and maps at this FS planning website for the three early adopter Sierra Nevada forests. The draft EIS and plan is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2015; the revision is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2016. Comments from the public will be accepted until September 27, 2014.

Click here to go to the FS planning website to download all the documents.

May 20, 2014

The Forest Service announced today that they have completed a revised Need for Change document. They will be now be hosting public workshops to mark the beginning of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process of forest plan revisions for the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo National Forests. Additional information about the meetings is available at this Forest Service planning website.

Meetings in January focused on the emphasis areas outlined in the Preliminary Need to Change document from each Forest's Assessments that will inform the Land Management Plan revision.

The Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo forest plan revisions will be completed through the development of one environmental impact statement. The final EIS will result in three separate Records of Decision and three separate forest plans. Forest Supervisors will remain the responsible officials for making decisions on their specific forest plans.

December 30, 2013

The final Forest Assessment has been completed for the Sierra National Forest. A workshop for the public to discuss the assessment, forest plan revision, and the "Preliminary Need for Change" document will be held on Monday, January 27, 2014, from 5 to 9 pm at the Holiday Inn Fresno Airport, 5090 E. Clinton Way, Fresno, CA.  For more information, contact Rebecca Garcia at 559-297-0706 or rebeccagarcia@fs.fed.us.

Download here to read SFL coalition comments on the Need for Change document. Download the Sierra National Forest Final Forest Assessment here.

September 19, 2013

Download and read our coalition's comments on the Draft Sierra National Forest Assessment here.

August 13, 2013

The Draft Sierra National Forest Assessment that will inform the forest plan revision is now available for public comment. Comments will be accepted by the FS until September 19. Comments should be sent to:

Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor
Sierra National Forest 1600 Tollhouse Rd.
Clovis, CA 93611.
Subject: Draft Sierra Assessment Feedback.
Comments can also be sent electronically via email to: pacificsouthwest-sierra@fs.fed.us.

The Sierra National Forest living assessment topic papers can be viewed and comments can be submitted anytime, at the Forest Service's interactive forest planning website.

A fundamental principle in the planning rule is a commitment to utilizing the latest science. In Region 5, a Science Synthesis team was convened to summarize the most relevant new findings from recent (last 10-12 years) scientific literature on social, economic, and ecological issues across the Sierra Nevada. The Science Synthesis is now available, download it here.

The Draft Sierra Nevada Bioregional Assessment (May 23, 2013) is also now available. The purpose of the assessment is to provide broad, landscape-level information that will inform forest plans throughout the region. Comments and information can be added directly to the document at the Living Assessment interactive website.

Be sure to read Sierra Forest Legacy's comments on the Draft Bioregional Assessment (June 14, 2013).

The Bioregional Assessment addresses the 15 topic areas that the planning rule requires each forest to address. Draft topic papers are currently being developed for the Sierra National Forest. The planning rule requires assessment of the following fifteen components:

1. Terrestrial & aquatic ecosystems, and watersheds 
2. Air, soil, water 
3. Systems drivers (e.g. ecological processes, disturbance regimes and stressors) 
4. Baseline assessment of carbon stocks 
5. T & E, proposed & candidate species, & potential species of conservation concern in the plan area 
6. Social, cultural, and economic conditions 
7. Ecosystem services 
8. Multiple uses 
9. Recreation 
10. Renewable & nonrenewable energy and mineral resources 
11. Infrastructure 
12. Areas of tribal importance 
13. Cultural and historic resources and uses 
14. Land status and ownership, use, and access patterns 
15. Existing designated areas within the plan area (e.g. Wilderness , etc.) 

In addition, the new forest plan will also contain these required components:   

  • Desired Conditions
  • Objectives
  • Suitability of Uses
  • Standards
  • Guidelines
  • Other plan content such as:
  • Distinctive Roles and Contributions
  • Management Areas - Zones - Geographic Areas
  • Recommended Areas (e.g., Wilderness, Wild & Scenic Rivers)
  • Priority Watersheds
  • Monitoring Program

 

March 23, 2012

Final Planning Rule signed today

The Forest Service announced today the finalizing of the new forest planning rule. According to the agency, no significant changes were made from the draft rule published in May, 2011, however, clarifications were made for important issues, such as the use of the best available science. You can read the rule here, or at the Forest Service planning rule website, where you will also find a summary, FAQs, and additional information and documents pertaining to the rule.

Read the Forest Service press release announcing the final rule here.

Although there was widespread support for retention of the strong viability rule language from the 1982 version of the rule, no such viability rule now exists for wildlife. However, because of the strong commitment to utilizing the best available science, we believe that the new rule can be equally as protective for wildlife viability and biological diversity, if commitments for monitoring and adaptive management are kept. Public participation in new forest management plan development will be essential to ensure that these commitments are met, and that national forest management continues to evolve along with our increased scientific knowledge.

If we are to sustain the biological treasure that is the Sierra Nevada for posterity, we must take seriously the threats of climage change and loss of habitat and ecological processes that face the national forests of our mountain range. Sierra Forest Legacy's Conservation Strategy, along with GTR-220, An Ecosystem Management Strategy for Sierran Mixed-Conifer Forests, and the latest companion technical report, GTR-237, Managing Sierra Nevada Forests, are the right tools we will need to get off to a good start for forest planning in California.

January 26, 2012

Today the USDA Forest Service announced the release of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (FPEIS) for the 2011 Planning Rule. In addition, the agency announced that three forests (the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra NFs) in California will be among the first nationally to implement the new rule in the process of revising their current forest plans as required under the National Forest Management Act, NFMA (forest plans must be revised every 15 years). Read more about this history and the current planning rule on the NFMA section of this website.

It is likely that all of the forest plans currently due for revision in California will be revised in accordance with the new rule, which will be finalized in early 2012. We are fully engaged in leading a coalition of conservation groups throughout California in developing a conservation strategy for the 11 national forests of the Sierra Nevada that will ensure long term protection and conservation of the Sierra Nevada's unique and priceless biological heritage, and we will continue to be actively engaged with the Forest Service throughout the collaborative process set out in the new rule.

Background Old growth pine

Due to the efforts of the Bush Administration in dismantling the 1982 forest planning regulations and replacing them with a watered down 2005 planning rule revision, National Forests throughout the Sierra Nevada came under serious threat of losing the key conservation provisions of the National Forest Management Act. The Forest Service sought to advance the plan revision process under a categorical exclusion from NEPA, or environmental analysis of possible significant impacts from new management directions. That would virtually eliminate public oversight of management of our public lands, and greatly erodes the long-standing NEPA process of environmental review. This, along with the administration's decimation of the conservation-focused 2001 Sierra Nevada Framework with its 2004 Framework revision, could leave the National Forests of the Sierra Nevada at risk of losing the amazing attributes that make them such unique global watersheds, recreation destinations, and significantly important ecosystems -- or at the least, leaving them significantly diminished.

In March, 2007, a court decision reversed the Bush administration's 2005 planning rule. In April 2008, however, the Planning Rule was released virtually unchanged, in spite of tens of thousands of comment letters opposing the revisions. Subsequently, the rule was found to be unlawful and overturned in federal court in June of 2009. Since then, the Forest Service has been developing a new rule and the accompanying environmental impact statement.

Today we are working with a coalition of national conservation groups to provide the agency with a unified, comprehensive vision for science-based management of our national forests that will ensure their long term stability in the face of global climate change, and protection for rare and imperiled plants and wildlife. Click on this link to go the Conservation Strategy website.

 


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