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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a new planning rule to guide land and resource management planning for all units of the National Forest System (NFS) under the National Forest Management Act of 1976. The proposed rule sets forth process and content requirements to guide the development, amendment, and revision of land management plans to maintain, protect, and restore NFS lands while providing for sustainable multiple uses, including ecosystem services, so that NFS lands continuously provide ecosystem functions and contribute to social and economic sustainability. Planning under the proposed rule would be collaborative and science-based with the responsible official required to take the best available scientific information into account and provide opportunities for public participation throughout the planning process.

The proposed framework consists of a three-part learning and planning cycle: Assessment, development/revision/amendment, and monitoring. The phases of the framework are complementary and are intended to create a feedback loop that allows the Forest Service to adapt management to changing conditions and to improve plans based on new information and monitoring. This framework is intended to move the Agency toward a more responsive planning process that allows the Agency to understand the landscape-scale context for management, adapt management to changing conditions, improve management based on new information and monitoring, and support an integrated and holistic approach to management that recognizes the interdependence of social, ecological, and economic systems.

The Agency is requesting public comment on the proposed rule and on the alternatives that are described and evaluated in the accompanying draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Readers are invited to comment on each section of the proposed rule and on how provisions in the DEIS alternatives compare with the proposed rule. The Agency will carefully consider all public comments in preparing the final rule.

Comments must be received in writing by May 16, 2011. The Agency will consider and place comments received after this date in the record only if practicable. Public meetings to discuss the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement will be held throughout the country during the public comment period. A schedule of meeting dates and further information is available on the planning rule Web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule.

Submit comments through the public participation portal at http://www.govcomments.com/. Alternatively, submit comments by addressing them to Forest Service Planning DEIS, c/o Bear West Company, 132 E 500 S, Bountiful, UT 84010; or via facsimile to 801-397-1605. Please identify your written comments by including ``planning rule'' on the cover sheet or the first page. Alternatively, submit comments through the World Wide Web/Internet Web site http:// www.regulations.gov. All comments, including names and addresses, when provided, are placed in the record and are available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments at http:// contentanalysisgroup.com/fsrd/

Click here to read the complete Federal Register Notice

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