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Volume 3 Issue 1

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White Mountain National Forest Plan Revision

Submitted by Pat Berry Barker

"If you can capture the agenda of a meeting, you have full control." This was certainly true of the meeting I went to at the Plymouth Town Hall on May 8th, 2002. The meeting was "White Mountain National Forest Plan Revision." After I got there I learned that the objectives of the meeting were:

1. To validate the preliminary issues based on public input.

2. To encourage continued public participation in the forest plan revision process.

Somehow I came away with the feeling that the meeting did just the opposite. Everything boiled down to 6 paper charts on easels. These are the 6 subjects, they told us, that the Forest Service feels the public is most interested in.

1. Non-motorized Dispersed Recreation

2. Motorized Dispersed Recreation

3. Roadless and Unroaded Areas

4. Wildlife Habitat Management

5. Wilderness Recommendations

6. Timber Management

The four Forest Rangers present were determined that absolutely nothing controversial would be discussed. Two of the rangers cheerfully told us that they are new to the State of New Hampshire and admitted they didnít know anything. None of the four knew anything about any regions of the White Mountain National Forest not in the southern forest. Deer Hill? Whatís that?

Not much in the above 6 issues seemed to have anything to do with the collection of minerals in the Forest. When I mentioned this I was nervously told, "That issue is in the mix."

Other people in the audience brought up issues they were interested in and didnít think were covered on the 6 charts, and they were told that their subject "was in the mix."

Then we were told that besides the 6 working paper chart topics, there were 25 remaining subjects sort of in limbo somewhere. These:

1. May become part of alternatives in an environmental impact statement for the Forest Plan

2. May become part of an update to the Forest Plan

3. May become a standard or guideline in the Forest Plan

4. May not be considered in the revision plan

Of these 25 remaining subjects sort of in limbo somewhere, only two are of special interest to our hobby:

1. "Unique Recreation" such as rock climbing and hobby minerals (We donít even rate one to ourselves.)

2. "Commercial Minerals" (Can you just imagine?)

All of these papers may be found at the USDA Forest Service / White Mountain National Forest website: www.fs.fed.us/r9/white Click on Forest Plan for access to Forest Plan Revision Documents.

I stuck it out for the two hours we were allowed. I guess we will have to hang in there to make sure we donít lose what access we still have. A forester friend of mine who was there that evening assured me that these meetings are all alike. Jonathan Herndon and other members deserve medals for attending these discussion groups over the past 3 years.