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Our favorite stories about public lands and opportunities for you to get involved in protecting your outdoor experiences.


The Life Cycle of Forest Planning

Tania Lown-Hecht

We’ve talked a lot about forest planning over the last few years. Right now, the Forest Service—the folks who manage all 154 National Forests in the U.S.—is doing “Forest Planning” for a number of National Forests across the country.

Forest Planning creates the blueprint for how each National Forest is managed. Among other things, it creates something like a zoning map that dictates where activities like logging happen, and where there are places that need to be set aside for values like recreation. It has a huge impact on the future of access, and it starts the process for the development of new protective designations like Wilderness, Wild & Scenic rivers, and potentially National Recreation Areas.

Click to enlarge.

If you’re new to forest planning, it can seem overwhelming. Even if you’re an old hat at forest planning, it can sometimes seem overwhelming!

Check out our graphic at right to understand the timeline of the average forest planning process. A lot of forest planning is rooted in map-based exercises, figuring out where eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers will be, recommended Wilderness, and other place-based designations. Our GIS Lab puts together maps for each of the forests where we are working to determine key recreation resources and how best to protect them. 

You can also check out our other resources about Forest Planning, including 6 reasons to care about forest planning, and our Outdoor Citizens' Guide to Forest Planning. You can see the forests where Outdoor Alliance is working on our Forest Planning page here.