March 9, 2015
 
ALAMOSA, Colo. – The U.S. Forest Service and National Forest Foundation (NFF) will hold two public meetings during the week of March 16 to discuss and receive public input for the Rio Grande National Forest’s plan revision.
 
The first meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 16, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Creede Community Center, 503 Forest Service Rd #9, Creede. Participants at this meeting will help identify activities and areas of concern regarding management of the national forest’s soil and water resources.
 
The Rio Grande National Forest contains the headwaters of the 1800 mile long Rio Grande. Natural disturbances such as fires, floods and climate change; management activities such as timber management, grazing, and recreation; and infrastructure such as roads and trails have the potential to affect water and soil resources. The forest service is seeking assistance from the public to help identify areas and activities of concern related to water and soil quality, watershed health, and water supply to support a variety of multiple uses.
 
The second meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18 from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at Monte Vista High School, 295 East Prospect Avenue, Monte Vista. Participants at this meeting will help identify current issues and foreseeable trends concerning management of infrastructure and public access to the Rio Grande National Forest.
 
The forest is seeking public input to assess the existing condition of infrastructure to meet current and future demands. Infrastructure includes roads, bridges and trails, range improvements, recreation sites, water facilities, and utilities.  The forest is also seeking public input on ways infrastructure is affecting the environment and how it supports the local economy.
 
Intermingled land ownership between National Forest System lands, private lands and other public agencies may present management challenges or restrict access to public lands.    The forest service is seeking input to identify public access concerns and other issues related to managing resources across intermingled land ownerships.  The Rio Grande National Forest is also looking for opportunities to provide open space connections across jurisdictional boundaries.
 
The forest plan is the overarching document that guides all management decisions and activities on the entire Rio Grande National Forest, including activities such as preservation of cultural and historic resources, grazing, timber production, recreation, wildlife management, firewood cutting and gathering of special forest products.
 
The forest plan revision is expected to be completed by the autumn of 2017. There will be two more public meetings concerning soil and water, but the March 18 meeting will be the only one focused on lands and infrastructure during this assessment phase of the forest plan revision.
 
For more information, visit the RGNF plan revision website at http://riograndeplanning.mindmixer.com/ or contact Mike Blakeman at the SLV Public Lands Center, 719-852-5941.