Author Topic: USDA Forest Service Open Space Conservation Strategy  (Read 1525 times)

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USDA Forest Service Open Space Conservation Strategy
« on: June 23, 2007, 01:05:14 pm »
[Federal Register: June 22, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 120)]
[Page 34430-34432]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Forest Service

RIN 0596-AC68

USDA Forest Service Open Space Conservation Strategy

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of request for public input.


[[Page 34431]]

SUMMARY: The Forest Service is inviting all interested members of the
public to provide comments on the Draft Forest Service Open Space
Conservation Strategy, which will help shape the Agency's strategic
role in its national effort to conserve open space. The Forest Service
is interested in addressing the effects of the loss of open space on
private forests; on the National Forests and Grasslands and surrounding
landscape; and on forests in cities, suburbs, and towns. The Draft
Strategy provides a framework to focus existing and new Forest Service
actions for open space conservation. Accordingly, comments on the Draft
Strategy should focus broadly on the strategic objectives and actions
described in the document. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for
more background on the loss of open space and the Strategy.

DATES: Comments must be received, in writing, on or before July 23,

ADDRESSES: Written comments concerning this notice should be addressed
to Claire Harper or Kathryn Conant, Forest Service, Cooperative
Forestry, Mail Stop Code 1123, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW.,
Washington, DC 20250-1123. Comments may also be sent via e-mail to; or via facsimile to 202-205-1271. The agency

cannot confirm receipt of comments. All comments, including names and
addresses when provided, are placed in the record and are available for
public inspection. The public may inspect comments during regular
business hours at the office of the Cooperative Forestry Staff, 4th
Floor SE., Yates Building, 201 14th Street, SW., Washington, DC.
Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to 202-205-1389 to facilitate
entry into the building.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Electronic copies of the Draft Open
Space Conservation Strategy document are available at
 and hardcopies are available by contacting

Claire Harper or Kathryn Conant, Forest Service, Cooperative Forestry
by telephone at 202-205-1389 or by electronic mail at For general information about the Open Space

Conservation Strategy and the loss of open space, visit the Forest
Service's Open Space Web site:

    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD)
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339
between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through


I. Background

    In 2003, the Forest Service Chief identified the loss of open space
as one of four great threats facing our Nation's forests and
grasslands. Loss of open space is an issue that affects the
sustainability of both the National Forests and Grasslands and private
forests. Open space--including public and private land, wilderness and
working land--provides a multitude of public benefits and ecosystem
services we all need and enjoy. Three interrelated trends of
conversion, fragmentation, and parcelization are jeopardizing the long-
term health and function of forests, limiting management options, and
reducing opportunities for public enjoyment and use. To address the
loss of open space threat, the Forest Service has drafted a national
strategy that outlines how the agency plans to focus its efforts on the
issue. This strategy provides priority actions to conserve open space,
with an emphasis on partnerships and collaborative approaches. The
strategy builds upon existing Forest Service expertise, resources, and
programs, as well as expands the agency's involvement, to help conserve
open space across the landscape and maintain healthy, resilient

II. Progress to Date

    The Forest Service published a Federal Register notice on November
13, 2006, inviting public input to provide ideas for innovative tools
and partnerships in achieving open space conservation. We received
approximately 9,500 comments with over 90 percent of the respondents in
support of a greater Forest Service emphasis on open space
    The Conservation Fund held three roundtable dialogue listening
sessions on the Forest Service role in conserving open space. These
sessions were held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Washington, DC; and
Denver, Colorado in November and December 2006. In addition, we
solicited internal comments from Forest Service employees. The Draft
Strategy incorporates ideas and input from all the public comments and
    Many comments expressed strong support for current State and
Private Forestry programs--including the Forest Legacy Program, Forest
Stewardship Program, and the Urban & Community Forestry Program. Many
respondents look to the Forest Service to lead in convening a range of
stakeholders around landscape level planning, researching and promoting
markets for ecosystem services, and prioritizing critical lands for
conservation. A small minority of comments questioned the Forest
Service's role in State and Private Forestry in general and the
Strategy in particular.
    A complete review of comments can be found at

III. Open Space Conservation Strategy

    The goal of the Open Space Conservation Strategy is to maintain the
environmental, social, and economic benefits of forests and grasslands
across the country by: Protecting the most ecologically and socially
important lands; Conserving working lands as sustainable forests and
grasslands; Expanding and connecting open spaces in cities, suburbs,
and towns; and Reducing the ecological impacts and risks of
    Four priorities will guide Forest Service action into the future:
    A. Convene partners to identify and protect priority open space;
    B. Promote national policies and markets to help private landowners
conserve open space;
    C. Provide resources and tools to help communities expand and
connect open spaces; and
    D. Participate in community growth planning to reduce ecological
impacts and wildfire risks.
    Within these four priorities, the Draft Strategy focuses on 12
actions for the Agency--all of which will be implemented in partnership
and collaboration with others. The actions emphasize our roles as a
policy advisor at the national level, a convenor at the regional level,
and an information provider and stakeholder at the local level.

IV. Next Steps

    After the 30-day comment period, the Forest Service will synthesize
all comments received and revise the Strategy accordingly. We expect
the final Open Space Conservation Strategy, including a response to
comments received, will be announced and published in Fall 2007. The
Open Space Conservation Web site will be updated to coincide with this
announcement. After publication of the Strategy, the Forest Service
will collaborate with stakeholders, states, and the public to implement
the Strategy.

V. Public Comment

    During the first round of public comment, many respondents
requested the opportunity to review and comment on a Draft Strategy.
This notice and call

[[Page 34432]]

for public comment is a direct result of those requests.
    The Draft Strategy provides a framework to focus existing and new
Forest Service actions for open space conservation. Accordingly,
comments on the Draft Strategy should focus broadly on the strategic
objectives and actions described in the document. Input regarding the
following three questions is most useful:
    1. Are there major actions or concepts for conserving open space
missing in the Draft Strategy;
    2. Has the Draft Strategy outlined strategic priorities that will
best leverage Forest Service expertise, resources, and partnerships to
conserve open space; and
    3. Are the proposed priority actions feasible and complementary to
other conservation efforts?
    By receiving input from people with diverse interests and
perspectives, the Agency hopes to attain an array of viewpoints and
ideas regarding the Open Space Conservation Strategy. Feedback from a
range of interested individuals will assist the Agency in developing a
well-informed, focused, and effective strategy to address the loss of
open space threat.

    Dated: June 14, 2007.
James Hubbard,
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry.
 [FR Doc. E7-12149 Filed 6-21-07; 8:45 am]

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