March 8, 2011 — Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday, Feb. 22 invoking coordination status when dealing with state and especially federal agencies that administer public lands within Lassen County.
While Congress retains exclusive management power over federal lands, it requires its management designees such as the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and others to coordinate their planning and management processes with local governments that invoke agency status.
According to the board, its previous effort to influence Lassen National Forest planning process failed. The forest said it could not consider comments the board submitted regarding the Travel Management Plan enacted last year because they arrived after the comment period had ended. The board contends its recommendations were submitted in a timely manner, and the issue has slowly heated to a rolling boil.
For months, the board has expressed its dissatisfaction with the forest’s Travel Management Plan that restricts some uses of the public lands in Lassen County — particularly by off-highway-vehicle users who have been banned from many miles of previously available multiple use roads in the Lassen National Forest. The area around Eagle Lake has been especially impacted and the restrictions there require OHV users to trailer and transport their vehicles over certain stretches of roadway — a major deterrent to their recreational activities.
The restrictions in the Plumas National Forest are even more severe. For example, in some areas woodcutters cannot drive their vehicles into the forest to load firewood on their trucks.
The board has noted the local forest employees are simply the messengers and many of these determinations have been made by regional and perhaps even national decision-makers who probably know little or nothing about Lassen County and the way we would like to use the forest.
And Congressman Tom McClintock also has criticized these management plans because they create what he dubbed “the royal forest.”
The time for change has come. Simply put, coordination gives our local elected officials a recognized and statutory opportunity to sit down with these federal agencies and make decisions about how the public lands in Lassen County should be used.
We commend the board’s efforts and wish them every success in keeping the public lands available for use by all citizens.
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