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Draft Wilderness Inventory Map and Evaluation Criteria Available for Public Review

PHOENIX, September 13, 2017Tonto National Forest officials have developed a draft inventory map as part of the ongoing Wilderness Recommendation Process. The map is now available for public review.

The Tonto National Forest (TNF) developed the final inventory criteria used to produce the draft inventory map after listening to public comments during public meetings and analyzing written comments during two rounds of review.

This is the first step in a four-step process to identify, evaluate, analyze and recommend lands that may be suitable for inclusion as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. This first step is meant to be broad and inclusive, which means that many areas of the Tonto are included in the draft inventory map.

According to Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor for the TNF, these lands belong to the American people for their use and enjoyment.

Pictured is the Pueblo Canyon landscape located in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness on the Tonto National Forest.

“I want this process to be transparent and provide plenty of opportunity for review and comments,” Bosworth said.

The TNF welcomes additional public comments on areas that should be removed from the inventory or areas that should be added back into the inventory based on substantially noticeable improvements. Substantially noticeable improvements are defined in the collaboratively developed final inventory criteria.  Once the inventory step is finalized, an evaluation of these lands will occur.

The expanded evaluation criteria outlines how all of the inventoried areas will be ranked for their wilderness characteristics. This document is based on comments received on the draft evaluation criteria released in July 2017.

Comments can be submitted in the following ways:

Comments on the draft inventory map and expanded evaluation criteria are most useful if received by October 2, 2017.

There will be additional opportunities to provide comments in each step of the process. Visit the TNF’s Wilderness Recommendation Page at https://www.tontoplan.org/public-involvement/wilderness-inventory to learn more about the Wilderness Recommendation Process and to get involved in forest plan revision.

About Aimee Staten

Aimee Staten has worn several hats over the last few years, but she recently put on one of her more familiar caps after four years of working in nonprofits: That of a journalist. She has 14 years of experience in the news business as a reporter with eight of those years as the managing editor of the Eastern Arizona Courier.

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