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environment | forest defense

Mt. Hood Recreation Sites Threatened for Closure

The Forest Service has been mandated to create a list of recreation sites to close in each National Forest as a cost-cutting measure. Mt. Hood National Forest is about to begin this process and is hosting two open house events for citizens to comment.
The Forest Service is beginning the "Recreation Site Facility Master Planning" process on Mt. Hood. The RS-FMP process was conceived by top Forest Service officials in Washington D.C. (not at the Mt. Hood Forest level) between 2000 and 2003, with no public process or congressional oversight. The result, as seen on forests that have already completed the process in Colorado, is 1) campsites and other facilities that are not a priority are being shut down; or 2) sites are being converted to private concessionaires or Forest Service pay sites. Mt. Hood National Forest is beginning this process with two workshops. Join Bark and other concerned Oregonians at these meetings and help say "NO" to recreation closures and raise the real problem: congress and the administration defunding recreation on Mt. Hood National Forest.

TODAY, Wednesday, February 7, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Hood River Best Western, Riverview Room
1108 E. Marina Way
Hood River, OR 97031

Tuesday, February 13, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Mt. Hood National Forest Headquarters
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055

Meeting details: Each meeting will begin with a brief introduction of the RS-FMP by the Forest Service and then will break into small groups. The small groups will be given a Mt. Hood National Forest map with mylar overlays of various recreation sites. The Forest Service will then ask participants questions about where you like to go and why.

Talking points:
1) NO recreation sites should be shut down. Mt. Hood National Forest is one of only 14 "Urban" National Forests (within a hundred miles of a million people) in the country, and funding for recreation should be a number one priority. 2) NO new user fees should be forced on visitors. As taxpayers we already pay for the services provided on Mt. Hood. 3) Overcrowding is becoming an increasing problem. Just because you have never been to a recreation site doesn't mean that it's okay to close it. What happens when your favorite site becomes too crowded?

What to do right now:
Call Senator Ron Wyden, AND either Congressman Greg Walden or Earl Blumenauer. Tell them that the Recreation Site Facility Master Planning is a flawed process and that it needs to be withdrawn. It is in direct conflict with the Mt. Hood Wilderness bills that they have introduced, which are meant to ensure dispersed recreation is available. Ask that if the RS-FMP is not stopped on Mt. Hood, that they should protect our recreation sites through Mt. Hood Wilderness legislation this year. Sen. Wyden: Portland office (503) 326-7525 Rep. Blumenauer: Portland office (503) 231-2300 Rep. Walden: Bend office (541) 389-4408

Since at least 2002, the Forest Service has been implementing an internal policy called Recreation Site Facility Master Planning (RSFMP). The Forest Service website with information on this process can be found at  http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/measures/Prioritize/RS-FMP.htm. RSFMP mandates that every National Forest inventory all its developed (developed meaning the site has: toilet, water, or fire pits, etc.) recreation sites and compare their facilities to a National Required Standard. The National Required Standard was created by taking a poll of Forest Service managers, with individual Regions allowed to set their standards higher than the national minimum. No public input was sought. Many simple recreation sites do not meet the standards.

The RSFMP Process Guidebook is blunt: "If a site cannot be operated to at least meet the regionally required standards, it must be closed." (Page 5) The RSFMP Process Guidebook requires that every Forest produce an "RSFMP 5-Year Plan" that ranks all sites. The rankings are being used to determine which sites the agency will close or decommission, which sites will be turned over to concessionaires and which sites will charge new fees. These RSFMP 5-Year Plans have been produced behind closed doors since 2002 and have not gone through the public comment procedure specified by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

According to the Forest Service website:

RS-FMP helps managers define their decision space and provide a Forest level program of work to operate and maintain a financially sustainable and niche-focused recreation sites program meeting National Quality Standards. The initial product of the process is a 5 year proposed Program of Work that will help the forest meet the RS-FMP goals which are:
-Improve customer satisfaction
-Provide recreation opportunities consistent with the Forest recreation "niche". Niche is what the forest has to offer in terms of special places, opportunities and possible experiences, overlapped with what people desire in terms of outdoor recreation from public land. That overlap defines a narrow decision space within which staff defines the focused program the forest can provide.
-Operate and maintain a financially sustainable developed recreation program to accepted quality standards
-Eliminate deferred maintenance at recreation sites.
-Let's protect recreation on Mt. Hood! See you next week!

homepage: homepage: http://www.bark-out.org