• Peggie dePasquale

WWA's Bridger-Teton National Forest Plan Revision Resource Guide

The Bridger-Teton National Forest is slated to begin revising its Forest Plan in the near future. Considering the current plan was finalized in 1990, this revision is long overdue. As one of the most important opportunities to protect wildlands, Wyoming Wilderness Association wants to make sure you are ready to engage in this process as soon as it begins! This blog is our resource portal with the need-to-know information and resources presented through answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.


We have work to do, so let's begin.

Photo: Peggie dePasquale; Gros Ventre Wilderness, Bridger-Teton National Forest

 

Rather watch a video than read this blog?

Tune in for Associate Director, Peggie dePasquale's overview of Forest Planning:


 

What is a Forest Plan? How is it created and implemented?


All national forests are required to produce a comprehensive land management plan. This is generally a massive multi-hundred page document that covers everything from Wilderness, to Cultural Resources, to Oil and Gas specifics. The only thing that the Forest Plans doesn't directly cover is motorized access, which is usually hashed out in Travel Management Planning after the Forest Plan is finalized.


In 1976 The National Forest Management Act was passed requiring all National Forests to create a management plan. The 2012 Forest Planning Rule was created to inform how these plans are revised. This process was intended to occur every 15 years in order to ensure management is relevant and timely. Very few Forests have revised their plan since this rule was created. When the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) revises their current plan it will use this new rule.


Some question whether the 2012 Planning Rule is as good as past rules or as strong as it should be. Although keeping these things in mind can inform efforts in the future, this is the Rule that we will use for the BTNF and so our efforts should focus on working within this rule effectively and efficiently.


To keep the process very simple, let's break it down into three parts:


  1. Assessment: The forest is tasked with assessing what is currently happening on the ground to inform the new management direction they draft in the next plan.

  2. Plan Development: Although there are some differences, this process looks much like any other National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The Forest will present a draft with different alternatives that the public will be able to weigh in on. With this feedback in mind the forest will put out a revised version of this document that the public will be able to comment on again. Finally, the National Forest will take this next round of feedback to inform and release the final revised plan.

  3. Putting the Plan into Action: After the Forest Plan is finalized, much of our work is still left to be done to implement the management directives that were outlined. Hopefully the public input was incorporated into the plan and the Wilderness community can work together to ensure that the directives are put into action as intended and needed.


Photo: Kevin Moe; Palisades Wilderness Study Area, Bridger-Teton National Forest


When will the BTNF Forest Revision Process begin?


Efforts to get a head start on the Assessment work are already underway by both the BTNF and organizations like Wyoming Wilderness Association in order to ensure we are ready when the actual revision process kicks off. All signs point to the BTNF being a top priority nation-wide to begin the process, but the start all depends on when the funding is available for them to begin. Our best guess is the start could occur in fiscal year 2023 (starts Oct. 2022), but there are no guarantees. In the meantime, Wyoming Wilderness Association is doing our homework and getting our strategy in place, and we encourage you to join us in doing the same.

Photo: Kevin Moe; Palisades Wilderness Study Area, Bridger-Teton National Forest


What can someone do right now to get a head start?


There is a lot we can all be doing even with uncertainty regarding the kick off of the process. Here are just a few actions to take:

  1. Sign up for the BTNF alerts for Forest Planning here: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAFS/subscriber/new For a full run through of signing up for these alerts, please watch our 20 minute YouTube video provided above!

  2. Identify your priorities on the Forest and focus you energy on influencing the management of those topics. For example, Wyoming Wilderness Association is focused on the management of Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas and Roadless Areas across the Forest, with intentions to gain Recommended Wilderness in the revised plan.

  3. With those priorities in mind, what do you see happening on the ground right now? Are uses occurring where you know they aren't supposed to be? Are trails in really rough shape in some of your favorite areas to explore? Is there important wildlife habitat that is unaccounted for in the current plan? Start making observations and taking notes. Anecdotal evidence can be invaluable to informing the greater understanding about what is going on.

  4. How do you plan to build trust and rapport with the BTNF and their planning team? Although all public comment is considered and reviewed, when decision-makers recognize your name as a respectable and informed community member your comments stand to have a greater influence.

  5. How will you engage your community? Start having conversations now with your friends, colleagues and family to get them inspired by the opportunity to inform National Forest land management right here in their backyard. With that said, the BTNF is public land belonging to all Americans, so you can go beyond the local scope when discussing engagement in the upcoming process with others!


Photo: Kevin Moe; Bridger Wilderness, Bridger-Teton National Forest


6. Last but not least, please stay in touch with Wyoming Wilderness Association to ensure you have up to date information on the upcoming revision and how you can be involved.



All questions received will help inform the content on this page! We are also open to feedback and additional information that you have to share.


Resources:

BTNF 1990 Forest Plan with amendments

2012 Planning Rule

Land Management Planning 101

Outdoor Alliance Citizen Guide to Forest Planning


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