Dear Secretary Vilsack:
We are pleased to submit our comments on the National Forest System
Land Management Planning Rule. More than 85 percent of the lands being
managed under this rule are in the West and, as a former governor, you know that states and the federal government share jurisdiction over U.S. Forest Service lands. Western Governors believe strongly in the mission of the U.S. Forest Service to "sustain health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations." Given the joint authority and shared goals, it is imperative that the Planning Rule consistently and clearly recognizes state authorities, as well as the need for inclusive processes and transparency, which will improve planning efforts and collaboration while reducing litigation. Further, given that both the Western Governors and the Obama administration have made the strengthening of our transmission grid a high priority, the Planning Rule must ensure that forest plans recognize this.
The Western Governors' comments aim to clarify the roles of federal,
state and local governments in relation to defining and measuring sustainable forest management, promoting regional collaboration, joint planning and coordinated action. We consider it imperative that the U. S. Forest Service coordinate closely with states, tribes and local governments as you refine and implement a new Planning Rule. We stand ready to assist in this endeavor as do our forestry, water and wildlife experts that helped to develop these comments.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us, or Pam Inmann,
WGA's Executive Director. With our recommended improvements to the draft
rule, we can together ensure the health and productivity of our nation's forests, watersheds and wildlife.
C.L. "Butch" Otter
Governor of Idaho
Governor of Washington