Feedback sought on national forest plans

RUTLAND — The Manchester and Rochester-Middlebury Ranger Districts of the Green Mountain National Forest have been studying how best to invest in and change operations and maintenance of recreation sites and facilities to enhance the Forest’s recreation program’s sustainability. 
Green Mountain Forest officials are ready to unveil their plans and will be holding public meetings and open houses at the Manchester and Rochester-Middlebury Ranger Districts as follows: 
• On Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Manchester Ranger District Office located at 2538 Depot St., Manchester Center, from 6-8 p.m. 
• On Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Rochester-Middlebury Ranger District Office at 99 Ranger St., Rochester, from 6-8 p.m. 
“The forests have been working since 2016 to develop a proposal for a sustainable recreation program,” said John Sinclair, Forest Supervisor of the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. “We finally have a proposal and are looking forward to engaging with our stakeholders on next steps.” 
Forest officials will discuss their new Recreation Facility Strategy (RFS), which includes the Recreation Site Analysis (RSA), and is intended to reduce operations and maintenance costs and maximize public benefits while balancing social, economic and environmental factors. 
Officials are looking for information, comments, and other assistance from federal, state, and local agencies, and other individuals or organizations that have an interest in or could be affected by the proposed RSA management actions. 
Specific comments are the most useful for the identification of issues to the proposed RSA management actions. Comments will be collected and accepted from both of the public meetings from Tuesday, Feb. 11, through Wednesday, March 11. 
The comments collected during this period, as well as contact information, will become part of the RSA public meeting record. 
Comments will be taken into consideration as the Forest looks to finalize the five-year Recreation Facility Strategy in spring of 2020. Comments on the proposed RSA management actions can be submitted either at the Districts’ public meetings, open houses or online on the Forest’s website at gmfl/home, or by sending an email to comments-eastern-green-mt-finger-lakes@
A link to the District Maps for review and comment are located at the bottom of the GMFL home page. When submitting comments online, include the entire name, “Recreation Site Analysis – Manchester Ranger District” or “Recreation Site Analysis— Rochester-Middlebury Ranger District,” in the email subject line. 
“The Forests will consider all comments and feedback received during the public engagement period,” said Sinclair. “The feedback received will be evaluated and may be incorporated into changes to the five-year Recreation Facility Strategy. We value your feedback and look forward to your participation in this effort.” 
The Districts expect to begin implementing the five-year Recreation Facility Strategy during the 2020 recreation season. 
The Recreation Facility Strategy is not a decision document. Therefore, some proposed management actions may require a level of environmental analysis through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If NEPA is required, the comments collected during this comment period as well as contact information will become part of the record for that specific project. Thus, there will be an opportunity for continued public engagement through the NEPA process. 

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