Last year, the Forest Service released a new Planning Rule that will guide how Forest Plans are updated. Many of our national forests are managed under plans that are years, sometimes decades, out of date. The new Planning Rule determines how these outdated plans will be revised, and from a human powered recreation perspective, there is a lot about it to like.
One good part of the new Planning Rule is the increased emphasis on gathering information during the Assessment phase of plan revisions. Many of the first forests to use the new Planning Rule are incorporating maps of recreation and other resources. One of these is the Chugach National Forest in Alaska, which had an online tool for users to add their favorite places and activities.
While this is great information to gather, this is one of those cases where the information is only as good as the method used to get it. In this case, the mapping tool the Chugach used had serious limitations. The tool was so difficult to use that instead of using it, Outdoor Alliance worked with our local network to make our own Google map to submit to the Forest Service.
We are very excited that the Forest Service is asking for such detailed geospatial information about recreation. We look forward to working with the Agency to iron out the initial bugs, so that we can share the information we have and they can get the information they need.