On December 29, 2011, the Forest Service, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER (attached) soliciting nominations for a new committee – the National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Planning Rule (Committee) – in order to receive advice and recommendations on the implementation of the new planning rule. The Committee will be drawn from a wide range of interested parties representing state, tribal and local governments as well as private and commercial interests. The planning rule is designed to guide land and resource management planning throughout the entire National Forest System. Its implementation may be of significant interest to tribes. Nominations must be received by February 21, 2012.
The proposed planning rule was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on February 14, 2011, but a final rule has yet to be published. The proposed rule may be viewed here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-02-14/pdf/2011-2989.pdf. The Committee is to be established in accordance with Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and will consist of 21 members. The Committee membership will include three categories of interested parties, with seven persons chosen from each of the three categories.
The first category may include members who represent: the affected public at large; a state elected official or their designee; a county elected official or their designee; American Indian tribes; and youth. The second category may include members who represent: national regional or local environmental organizations; conservation organizations or watershed associations; dispersed recreation interests; archeological or historical interests; and the scientific community. The third category may include members who represent: the timber industry; grazing or other land use permit holders or other private forest landowners; energy and mineral development; commercial or recreational hunting and fishing interests; and developed outdoor recreation, off-highway vehicle users or commercial recreation interests.
Many tribes have treaty and/or statutory hunting, fishing or harvesting rights in lands managed by the Forest Service. In addition there are many places within Forest Service land that hold cultural and religious importance for tribal communities. (Issues related to tribal sacred places are discussed in a draft report to the Secretary of Agriculture. ) With such a large number of Committee memberships provided for commercial and private interests, potential tribal representatives may wish to aggressively apply for spaces within the first category as seven spaces are reserved but only five different groups of representatives are specified.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information regarding the application process to serve on the National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule or the proposed planning rule generally.