WRNF plan not appealing to some | PostIndependent.com

WRNF plan not appealing to some

Two appeals have been filed in connection with the new White River National Forest management plan.

However, forest officials believe that the more serious appeals, if any, are still to come. WRNF spokesperson Sue Froeschle said indications so far are that they could come from environmental groups and the ski industry.

She said the appeals are received at Forest Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., so she isn’t fully familiar with them. Both involve individuals who own property within or near forest land and generally object to the direction of the new plan, she said.

It is likely that the appeals are not specific enough in nature, and as a result they may not meet the test of being official appeals, said Froeschle.

Typically, appeals must detail such things as what requirement the Forest Service failed to meet in its planning process, what data it failed to analyze, or what errors it made in that analysis, she said.

“Those are the kinds of appeals that have merit,” said Froeschle.

“I think the appeals that will more than likely be substantive will be from the organized groups, and we have received none yet.”

So far, two forest constituencies have shown a particular interest in the forest plan that would suggest an appeal is planned. At its Glenwood Springs headquarters, the WRNF maintains an administrative record room filled with notebooks containing “all the research materials used to help craft the revised forest plan and environmental impact statement,” said Froeschle.

Environmentalists and ski industry representatives have been in to look through the records, she said.

The forest plan was released in early June, and appeals can be filed through Sept. 5.

Froeschle isn’t expecting to see many appeals from such groups until close to the deadline.

“We expect that they will use every day they can,” to put together the best appeals possible, she said.

The new forest plan has taken effect. Appeals could impact only the portion of the plan to which the appeal pertains.

Environmental groups have criticized the final plan for being less conservation-oriented than the draft plan, released in 1999.

The final plan also would allow no new ski areas. However, under the draft plan, no ski area expansions would have been allowed beyond current permit areas. The final plan allows for some expansions, particularly in resorts that are closer to the high skier population base on the Front Range.

Steve Smith, a Glenwood Springs resident and staff member for the Sierra Club, said he and other representatives of environmental groups expect to compare notes this week after poring over the administrative records related to the forest plan.

“They’ve actually got it very well organized,” he said of the WRNF’s records room.

He agreed with Froeschle that if any appeals are filed, that won’t occur until close to the Sept. 5 deadline.

Environmental groups will discuss whether particular issues or sections of the plan merit an appeal, he said.

Smith said he doesn’t know yet whether any appeals are warranted. He first wants to hear the results of the research being conducted by his colleagues.

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