PHOENIX, Dec. 13, 2019 — The Tonto National Forest released a draft land management plan (draft forest plan) and draft environmental impact statement today for public review and comment. The draft forest plan reflects changes in social, economic and ecological conditions since the current plan was approved in 1985. It outlines the strategic management for 2.9 million acres of national forest for the next 10 to 15 years and reflects input from elected officials, tribes, community members and many others.
The draft forest plan would support around 3,300 local jobs and $174 million in annual income for local communities through mining, livestock grazing, forest products and sustainable recreation. It also promotes an “all-lands” approach to meeting shared goals across the landscape. This means working with partners and neighboring land owners to improve forest conditions, reduce fire risk and make the forest more resilient to drought, flooding, insects and disease. Other priorities include restoring riparian areas and preserving the special characteristics of designated wilderness and eligible wild and scenic rivers, while providing for sustainable recreation in these areas.
“The Tonto is a classic example of a multiple-use forest,” said Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth. “Mining, timber, grazing and recreation all play an important role in how the Tonto is managed as a whole.”
The draft forest plan is built on a foundation of public input, best available science, and emphasizes multiple uses supported by healthy ecosystems. These ecosystems provide clean drinking water for downstream communities and help to fuel the forest products, grazing and mining industries.
The Tonto National Forest will hold a series of public meetings to discuss the draft forest plan and draft environmental impact statement and provide opportunities for comment. Maps and other planning materials will be available for review and planning team members will be present to answer questions.
“The Tonto National Forest has spent the last 5 years listening to and working with our neighbors and partners to understand how important the forest is to the communities,” said Bosworth. “We are striving to balance the need for drinking water, emergency communications and quality recreation opportunities for communities with the health and enjoyment of nature”.
Evening open house public meetings:
- Mesa, AZ – January 8, 2020, 5-8 p.m., Franklin Junior High School
- Payson, AZ – January 9, 2020, 5-8 p.m., Julia Randall Elementary School
- Payson, AZ – January 22, 2020, 5-8 p.m., Julia Randall Elementary School
- Superior, AZ – January 23, 2020, 5-8 p.m., Superior Junior/Senior High School
- Cave Creek, AZ – February 5, 2020, 5-8 p.m., Desert Foothills Library
- Globe, AZ – February 6, 2020, 5-8 p.m., High Desert Middle School
Public working days at Tonto National Forest offices:
- Globe, AZ – January 8, 2020, 11-2 p.m., Globe Ranger District Office
- Cave Creek, AZ – January 10, 2020, 11-2 p.m., Cave Creek District Office
- Phoenix, AZ – January 16, 2020, 11-2 p.m., Tonto National Forest Supervisors Office
- Tonto Basin, AZ – January 22, 2020, 11-2 p.m., Tonto Basin Ranger District Office
- Mesa, AZ – January 23, 2020, 11-2 p.m., Mesa Ranger District Office
- Payson, AZ – January 30, 2020, 11-2 p.m., Payson Ranger District Office
All-day technical partner meetings:
- Phoenix, AZ – January 29, 2020, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., 24th Street Conference Center
- Phoenix, AZ – February 25, 2020, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Location to be determined
“These meetings will allow the public to ask questions and learn more about management of the Tonto National Forest into the future,” Bosworth said.
Written and electronic comments will be accepted for 90 days, ending March 12, 2020. The draft forest plan, draft environmental impact statement, frequently asked questions, how to comment guide, and additional details about the public meetings are available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/tontoplan. Hard copies of the draft forest plan and the draft environmental impact statement will be available at all Tonto National Forest offices as well as:
- Payson Public Library, Payson, AZ
- Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library, Pine, AZ
- Globe Public Library, Globe, AZ
- Young Public Library, Young, AZ
- Tonto Basin Public Library, Tonto Basin, AZ
- Superior Public Library, Superior, AZ
- Apache Junction Public Library, Apache Junction, AZ
- Miami Memorial Library, Miami, AZ
- Red Mountain Library, Mesa, AZ
- Desert Foothills Library, Cave Creek, AZ
- Fountain Hills Library, Fountain Hills, AZ
Every national forest is required by law to operate under a land management plan and to periodically involve the public in the revision of that plan. The Tonto National Forest looks forward to collaborating throughout the 90-day comment period. For more information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/tontoplan.
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