Wallowa-Whitman Travel Management Plan...starting over
Great news out in eastern Oregon: the U.S. Forest Service is starting over on the Travel Management Plan for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
A few weeks ago, I called Kent Connaughton, the Regional Forester for the USFS' Pacific Northwest Region, to tell him that the plan is the product of a flawed public process that failed to protect the public's ability to enjoy their natural resources. I followed up our conversation with a letter, which you can read here.
The next day, the Forest Service announced it was pausing the plan and would re-engage with the public to draft a better set of rules.
Bad process leads to bad policy. Throughout the process of writing the rule, I encouraged communities and user groups to tell their side of the story to the Forest Service. Unfortunately, I am told by individuals and the counties that most, if not all, of these key areas of concern were not included in the final plan. Failure to include local input resulted in a poorly crafted plan that threatened the economic, cultural, and recreational traditions of the region.
The voices of eastern Oregon’s residents must be better valued from this point moving forward. Withdrawing the plan was certainly a positive step – now the Forest Service must take advantage of this second opportunity throughout this summer to meaningfully involve the public (which should be a partner in this process…not a foe).