Recreation Agenda set by Forest Service

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Tue Oct 10 10:47:30 EST 2000

>From The Oregonian, Sept. 29, 2000, p A1

Forest Service assembles 'Recreation Agenda'
The agency plans to deal with growing use, and wear and tear, of public
lands for entertainment

	The U.S. Forest Service on Friday released a national "Recreation
Agenda" that says the agency must manage increasing crowds of hikers,
campers and off-road vehicle drivers so they do not impair the very
scenery and other resources visitors come to enjoy.
	Individual Forest Service regions will carry out the mandates of the
agenda through local plans, which could limit the use of trails or
wilderness areas said. Such plans will focus on reducing an estimated
$812 million backlog in maintenance and repair of recreation facilities
while balancing the demand for such facilities with protection of public
forests, land and water.
	"The Forest Service has always been a can-do agency that tries to do
all things for all people," said Terry Slider, a recreation resource
planner for Oregon and Washington who helped devise the agenda. "Use has
grown to the point where we can't do that anymore. We need to understand
where we fit in and what our niche is."
	The agenda, released at a National Trails Symposium in Redding,
Calif., promises to:
	- Measure the number of people using each national forest.
	- Designate a network of roads and trails suitable for off-highway
	- Identify overused recreation sites -- campgrounds and trail heads,
for example -- needing repair or restoration.
	- Reduce the forest system's maintenance backlog by at least one-
	- Decommission recreation sites that prove too expensive to operate
-- a remote campsite, for example -- or that cause unacceptable
environmental damage.
	- Assure additional financing by making temporary user fees
permanent and seeking corporate sponsorships for public facilities.
	The national agenda, however, does not gauge the effects of specific
recreational activities. Regional and local officials will assess the
effects of all-terrain vehicles, cross-country skiing and other
activities on individual forests.
	"The Forest Service is the No. 1 supplier of outdoor recreation in
the world," agency Chief Mike Dombeck said on Friday. "This plan will
help us to ensure people continue to enjoy their public lands and that
together we continue to protect the natural beauty and environment that
draws them to these natural wonders."
	Although the 15-page document represents official recognition of the
growing recreational use of forests long managed for timber production,
critics said it opens the door to "Industrial-strength" tourism that
eventually could affect public lands as much as logging has.
	"All of the extractive industries the Forest Service has ever
regulated -- whether it's timber or mining or grazing -- should have been
done sustainably, but none of them ever were," said Scott Silver of Wild
Wilderness, a Bend-based group fighting the commercialization of public
lands recreation. "Why should we expect recreation to be any different?"
	A coalition of more than 80 conservation, land protection and
outdoor groups, including the Oregon Natural Resources Council and the
Oregon Mountaineering Association, had opposed an earlier and similar
version of the recreation agenda, saying it failed to protect national
forests and promoted recreation instead of managing it.
	"Such a policy will create an endless spiral of additional
development, with increasing environmental damage, in order to fund the
existing infrastructure," the groups wrote. "Given the agency's inability
to manage current recreational levels, the promotion of increased
recreational use, especially of the more developed types, makes no sense
at all."
	Motorized vehicle advocates viewed the agenda with equal suspicion.
They noted that it recognizes off-road vehicles as a legitimate
recreational use of national forests, but they said it also advances
Dombeck's aims of giving natural resources a higher standing than the
people who want to use them.
	"It certainly does conform to Chief Dombeck's natural resources
agenda, whereby all human activities must conform to the needs of the
resource," said Adena Cook of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, an Idaho-based
defender of motor-vehicle use on public lands.

COMMENT BY POSTER: As more and more demand is placed upon recreation by
the general public (which appears to continue growing and growing...)
private forests open to recreational uses (hiking, camping, picnicing,
fishing stocked ponds, mushroom hunting, private deer or bird hunts, etc)
appears to be growing as well. This year for the first time I can
remember, there were advertisements in The Oregonian for hunting rights
available to pay-to-hunt groups or businesses in central and eastern
Oregon. Can such business decisions be far behind in western Oregon?

Posted as a diverse forest courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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