Missoula, Mont., Jan. 5, 2023—The Lolo National Forest and Plan Revision Team will start the new year by launching a series of public engagement opportunities to share information on the Revision process and to invite input on key topics.
“We are looking forward to the next several months which include carefully planned informational webinars, workshops, and engagement opportunities,” stated Carolyn Upton, Lolo National Forest Supervisor. “The feedback we hear through these sessions will be crucial to informing the Draft Assessment, the first step toward a revised Plan taking shape.”
To help provide meaningful opportunities for the public to be involved in the plan revision process, the Lolo National Forest has partnered with the University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, which has a team of experienced facilitators with specialized knowledge of public land management issues and public engagement processes.
“We are excited to tap into the expertise at the University to facilitate these sessions. Their experience will bolster the ongoing efforts of the Revision Team and Lolo staff to include the public’s voice in the plan revision process,” stated Amanda Milburn, Plan Revision Team Leader.
The Forest Service recognizes and values the many diverse perspectives that exist regarding the management of the Lolo National Forest. “We are aiming to provide opportunities for all voices to be heard. Undoubtedly, we will hear different perspectives and ideas, all of which are valuable to this process,” adds Milburn. “We’re asking our staff and everyone who participates in the process to share their experiences and perspectives and to listen closely to different points of view, knowing that this exchange of information that will ultimately provide the awareness needed to develop the best possible plan for the Lolo National Forest moving forward.”
The upcoming public engagement opportunities are outlined in the Public Engagement and Participation Strategy (PEPS) and include webinars, ranger chats, and workshops offered both in-person and virtually. The strategy was updated based on public feedback provided in late 2022. A complete calendar listing of upcoming events will be available at the Lolo Revision Web Hub on January 10.
January events include:
- Revision 101 Webinar on Jan. 10 at 6 p.m.: Virtual webinar welcoming everyone to the Plan Revision and providing an overview of how the process works.
- Public Engagement Webinar on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m.: Virtual webinar exploring the Public Engagement & Participation Strategy (PEPS) and how the public can participate in the Revision process. Please note: All webinar presentations will be recorded, closed captioned, and available for viewing at the Lolo Revision Web Hub.
- Revision Team Office Hours on Jan. 18 from 5-6 p.m.: Virtual opportunity to ask questions about the revision process with key revision team staff and Revision Team Leader, Amanda Milburn.
- Ranger Chats: Open office hours across all five districts of the Lolo National Forest to discuss the Revision process in person with District Rangers.
The Lolo National Forest is currently conducting early public engagement efforts in anticipation of the “Assessment” phase of the Plan Revision timeline. The official National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for Plan Revision will begin once the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Assessment is published in the Federal Register, which is anticipated in the spring of 2023.
Background on Land Management Plan Revision Process: A Land Management Plan, commonly known as a Forest Plan, is the overarching document that guides the management of a National Forest for approximately 15 years. Land management plans set the overall management direction and guidance; the Plan does not approve site-specific projects or activities. The revision process is expected to take multiple years and will include extensive public involvement. The responsible official is Carolyn Upton, Lolo National Forest Supervisor.