18 – Revising the Forest Plan (2004-2018)
(This is a part of a series of gleanings from the history of CRC’s 30 years of work; additional posts available here.)
In FY 2004, when the Notice of Intent for revision of the Forest Plan was filed, CRC began our most intensive and consuming project to date: For 14 years we sought to shape the revised Forest Plan into a document to better benefit wild habitats, wildlife, and those parts of the local economy that depend heavily on our natural heritage.
We were able to influence the plan significantly. Early versions contained little or no mention of the impacts of climate change, the impacts of border traffic on fires and trash in the Forest, or Travel Management issues. Early versions were also written in vague language, which amounted to very little plan at all.
Throughout the 14 years of crafting the Forest Plan, CRC sought to secure a prominent place within the Plan for the values of biodiversity and wild habitats.
With the help of Forest biologist Tom Skinner, CRC proposed the Birds of Prey extension of the Zoological-Botanical Area (ZBA) already in place. Data to support the designation had been carefully garnered by naturalist Dave Jasper and CRC Board Member Helen Snyder, with help from other researchers and birders.
The Forest Service also recognized concerns raised by Dawn Wilson, Director of the Southwestern Research Station, and modified their existing protocols for ZBAs, so that the research station could apply for a single permit to cover work done within the ZBA, as SWRS did elsewhere on the Forest, instead of having to apply for upwards of 150 individual permits.
In April 2007, CRC participated in the Coronado Planning Partnership, a coalition of almost 40 organizations working together to positively influence the new plan. The Coronado Planning Partnership wrote and published The State of the Coronado (2009), a 165-page examination of current conditions and threats, as well as management recommendations for moving forward. CRC contributed much to this document, including recommendations for the Chiricahuas, and the section on the Birds of Prey ZBA.
In February 2011, the US Forest Service issued its Proposed Land Management Planning Rule, covering Travel Management. CRC Board Members commented extensively and traveled to meetings in Douglas and Rodeo.
The Forest Plan––technically the revised Coronado National Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan––was finally completed in 2018. CRC continues to apply the provisions of that Plan to new proposals and projects in the region, to ensure that the requirements and the spirit of the Plan are being honored.