White River Forest Plan to go public June 4 | SummitDaily.com

White River Forest Plan to go public June 4

Dennis Webb

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The thousands of people awaiting the release of the White River National Forest plan rewrite finally can mark their calendars.

The new plan will be made public June 4, forest supervisor Martha Ketelle announced.

“It has been a long time coming, but it is finally here …” Ketelle said in a letter to individuals and organizations that have been tracking the controversial plan update.

The plan originally was due out by the end of 2000. But the Forest Service encountered numerous delays, in part because of the thousands of comments received on its draft proposal.

The agency’s preferred alternative proposed putting a higher priority on protecting the forest’s physical and biological resources than on human uses such as recreation and resource extraction.

Even after Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Rick Cables signed a record of decision on the plan earlier this spring, officials still were uncertain when it would be released, because it still had to be printed. Cables’ decision remains top-secret.

White River forest planner Carolyn Upton said the agency is now confident about the June 4 release.

“That’s our plan. Barring some horrible national disaster or some other thing which I don’t even want to think about, this is our plan,” Upton said. “Everybody’s geared, everybody’s praying.”

The agency is planning to hand-deliver the plan to some parties, and send it via either overnight or regular mail to others. It also is scheduled for posting June 4 at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver, the WRNF’s Web site.

Said Upton, “The Web site really is going to be one of our first lines of information distribution, so it’s going to be important to do it that day.”

Information kits will be provided that will include CD-ROMs with all the official documents, a map of the selected alternative, cards showing how to get information, information sheets on specific topics of interest, a newspaper insert, and a forest plan brochure.

The WRNF is planning to release media kits on the plan early in the morning of June 4, and hold a press conference later in the day, after reporters have been able to review the materials.

Also, public meetings regarding the plan will be scheduled later.

Appeals of the plan will be permitted for 90 days after publication of a legal notice regarding the plan, which probably will occur on June 7, Upton said.

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