The Forest Service loves to tell us public input matters and that the agency is enlisting ecological principles and ecosystem management to guide what all agree is fundamentally important forest planning! And many in the Forest Service care deeply and want as desperately as we do to move the Forest Service forward into an ecosystem paradigm rather than a resource production model.
But still too often there exists a mischievous and bureaucratic grin in the background which not only hampers this forward movement but numbs many of us to the good intentions. Put simply, the Forest Service has severed the Uintas into two distinct forest planning processes. The Wasatch will coordinate its planning efforts with the Uinta National Forest and prepare a plan for their portion of the North Slope and west end of the Uintas. Makes sense!
The Ashley, a year behind, has been loosely hooked to the Manti-LaSal in a planning effort. This makes no ecological or geographical sense! Other than the South Unit (the Tavaputs Plateau) on the Duchesne Ranger District, the Ashley is as disconnected from the Manti-LaSal as the sun is from night!
We have discussed this with both Ashley and Wasatch-Cache personnel in some detail on several occasions and both forests have expressed similar concerns to ours. Both forests have assured us that close coordination will continue. That's the mind-numbing part--why do it wrong in the first place?
The Uintas are one mountain, one landscape. They are as inextricably hooked to the socio-cultural values of the Wasatch Front as they are to the Uinta Basin. To break the planning process into two distinct, non-parallel efforts makes no sense.