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Forest Service plan upheld despite objections, appeals from all sides

By Scott Condon
September 17, 2004

The U.S. Forest Service's Washington, D.C., headquarters has upheld the vast majority of a new management plan for the White River National Forest over objections of several diverse groups, according to the forest supervisor's office.

Numerous parts of the plan were appealed by groups seeking everything from more protection for roadless areas to more places to ride off-road vehicles. An appeal was even made by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources in an attempt to open more lands to logging on the theory that the practice would allow more spring runoff to reach streams and be tapped for human uses.

All told, 14 formal objections were made to findings in the forest plan, which was released in June 2002 after five years of analysis and public hearings. The plan dictates how the 2.3 million acres White River National Forest, which surrounds the Roaring Fork Valley and extends along the Interstate 70 corridor, will be managed for the next decade or so.

White River National Forest spokeswoman Kristi Ponozzo said she wasn't prepared Thursday to go over each appeal and discuss the outcome. Forest planners and district rangers were studying the 120-page appeal decision Thursday and assessing how it will affect management techniques.

In general, Ponozzo said, forest planners were pleased with the decision.

"They seemed very optimistic," she said. "They felt it was a good plan because of the public involvement."

The appeal decision is scheduled to be posted on the White River National Forest's Web site Monday.

The appeals were analyzed by a 15-member team formed specifically to review disputes that arise over forest plans across the country. That team's job was to consider the appeals and the White River staff's responses in defense of the plan.

The White River's plan was especially scrutinized because it has the highest recreational use of any national forest in the country.

Scott Condon's e-mail address is [email protected]

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