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Forest Service Holds Scoping Meetings

Staff Writer

On Feb. 25, the United States Forest Service began a round of scoping meetings when the first meeting was held in Castle Dale. The meeting was held at the Museum of the San Rafael and the purpose of these scoping meetings throughout the state was explained by Elaine Zieroth, forest supervisor of the Manti-LaSal Forest. The USFS is the organization charged with the management of the natural resources of the forests for the American people.

The US laws require the forest service to periodically revise the plan for the management of the forests. Zieroth explained that 1986 was the last time revision was undertaken. The purpose of this round of revisions is to identifiy the things that still work and restructure the things that no longer fit into the forest management of today.

Public comments will be solicited throughout the entire process which will last approximately two more years. This current revision began in May of 2002 with the Notice of Intent to begin the revision. The first scoping meeting to gather public input was sparsely attended but a lot of input was gathered.

For purposes of personalizing the meetings, the forest lands in the Manti-LaSal forest, which cover 1.4 million acres, have been divided into 10 smaller geographic areas to be analyzed in depth by the communities and citizens that utilize those areas. Zieroth informed the attendees that the final revision would not be blanket coverage for the Manti-LaSal, but each individual geographic area could have completely different management considerations.

Zieroth introduced Ann King, Linda Crawley, Annette Delos Santos and Kort Utley who would be facilitating the meeting. Maps were displayed with the areas of the Manti-LaSal Forest located in Emery County. There were two geographic areas that were discussed in detail. The first was the Ferron-Muddy Canyons with the other being Huntington Canyon-Joe's Valley.

Maps of the two geographic areas were overlayed with clear plastic and the group was given markers and encouraged to write on the overlays the areas of the forest that they use and the things they participate in while in the forest. Some participants were interested in camping areas, while others considered ATV and horse riding access. Still others were concerned with the future of private industry and protection of the resource.

These scoping meetings will be held throughout the state to gather public comment, then the forest service will analyze this information and formulate a proposed action plan and this plan will be brought back to the public for further comment. The timeline for the proposed action plan is fall of 2003. The forest service is requesting that all users of the forest lands get involved and make their opinions known. If a person cannot attend one of the scoping meetings in their particular area, comments will be accepted by mail or in person at any Manti-LaSal forest office.

For more information or questions, call Annette Delos Santos at 435-636-3512 or Ann King at 435-636-3535

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