Giving your two cents in real time is now available through the mapping cooperation between Cibola National Forest and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Forest Service in the last two years had been working on updating the Cibola Land Resource Management Plan, which has not had a thorough scrubbing in nearly 30 years. Now, people can make comments on possible Wilderness-designated areas via the Forest Service’s website.
Through the USGS system, people can draw shapes around the areas they seek to have designated because of a lack of roads, human presence and other factors that make it a safe haven for natural habitats. The map also allows people to see other comments and make comments on their own designations.
The website states forest officials are looking to get input on the area by Nov. 21.
“We are in a forest-plan-revision mode on the Cibola,” said Champe Green, forest planner with the Cibola National Forest. “This occurs every 15 years, but because of budget short falls and various other reasons, it’s been 29 years since the plan has changed.”
By hosting a series of public workshops in the last two years, Cibola officials have garnered the input to shape proposals for a planned preparation of an environmental impact statement, critical to completing the planning process under the National Environmental Protection Act.
“We have informally scoped the needs for change to the existing plan, and we have started the wilderness inventory process with 35 public meetings,” Green said. “We’re going to publish a notice of intent probably in December. That begins the formal scoping process with the counties and tribes and cooperating agencies.
Green said the consensus has been pretty clear from the various meets as to what people want the forest plan to encompass.
“What we’re doing now is seeing if there are any more areas that have potential for Wilderness designation,” Green said. “At the end of the plan process, the forest supervisor can recommend areas to Congress. And Congress may or may not pass a law that actually designates what the forest recommends.”
Sometimes these congressional designations can take years to get ratified.
“Wilderness has had a lot of attention, but there’s also more — mountain bike trails, better protection from uncharacteristic wildfire, and more restoration and treatments on the forest and more prescribed burning, (tree) thinning and riparian stream site restoration,” Green said, adding there are some who have lobbied for a compatible way to increase elk herds numbers. “There’s new science that will manage water quality and technology in the mining industry as well as the recreational industry.”
People will have many more opportunities to comment and get involved up until the very end when the forest supervisor makes a decision on the final plan the draft environmental impact statement.
“We just encourage everybody to participate,” Green said. “This is an important time for people to weigh in.
Use the software here to suggest wilderness within the Cibola National Forest.