(PRESS RELEASE/Colville National Forest)
On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the USDA Forest Service released the revised Land Management Plan for the Colville National Forest as well as a Final Environmental Impact Statement and signed Record of Decision.
The revised plan is expected to support local economies by creating more than 200 new jobs in the forest products sector alone. This gain stems from an expected increase in timber output from 41 million to 62 million board feet every year, potentially resulting in as much as $12 million in additional labor income every year. The plan would also support traditional uses and improve recreation access and experiences. Once in place, the plan could support as many as 830 jobs and $36 million in labor income in the mining and recreation sectors while continuing to support approximately 29,500 animal unit months for grazing.
Development of the revised plan began in 2004. Since then, the specifics of the plan were developed collaboratively with many partners, communities, and the Tribes. The revised plan will continue to build on the foundation of shared stewardship the Forest has built with these stakeholders.
The revised plan prioritizes rural prosperity, treatment of fire-prone forests, forest access, and healthy watersheds. The revised plan provides updated management direction that addresses changing environmental and socio-economic conditions for the approximately 1.1 million acre Colville National Forest in northeast Washington.
“I want to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed during the planning, engagement, review, and objections process, and made this a better revised Land Management Plan for the Colville National Forest. Together, we are working to make the Forest more resilient while also supporting rural prosperity and community well-being,” Colville National Forest Supervisor Rodney Smoldon said.
Under the revised plan, the Forest Service aims to improve forest health and resilience to insect and disease while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire over time. A healthier forest will enable the Forest Service to be a better neighbor to adjacent landowners. Improved conditions will also provide for long-term economic, social, and ecological value for local communities, cleaner water for downstream communities and farmers, and improved habitat for sensitive fish, wildlife, and plants.
The Forest will continue to provide access for multiple uses including motorized and non-motorized access, which remains free of charge in most areas.
Balancing needs for forest access for timber harvest, wildfire suppression, and recreation with concerns for more wilderness, the revised Land Management Plan includes a limited amount of carefully selected recommended wilderness – approximately 6 percent of the planning area – and backcountry areas.
The revised Land Management plan will become effective 30 days after the publication of the Notice of Approval in the Federal Register.
For more information about the objection process and resolutions, and to access the revised Land Management Plan, Record of Decision, and Environmental Impact Statement, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/colville/landmanagement/planning/