There are more than a few pieces of major legislation that mandate the Forest Plan, the EIS, protection and the scoping* process. The key pieces of legislation are the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). The NEPA mandates that public input must be had on all actions that might environmentally impact our National Forest.
There is a whole network of "environmentalists" that use the NEPA to throw a paper monkey wrench into the development process of our forests. Please don't get me wrong, I am not against the environmentalists -- just the fact that they seem to be against anything "not natural." They even have pages on the internet, detailing the paper monkey wrench, how best to defeat the Forest Plan, who to call to get help in writing appeals, how to get on all the mailing lists and who can help you if you want to sue the Forest Service. They are striving for nature undisturbed by human intervention. But they forget that the ecological systems are always changing. Sometimes maintaining a natural area requires considerable human intervention, from controlled burning to locally eradicating uncharacteristic species. Are we skiers such an abnormal breed. I believe each area has it uses and importance. And sometimes, it's advantageous to develop and improve Ski Areas.
But, of course, I digressed. The USFS defined process is pretty convoluted. One year alone, the appeals created 1.6 jobs in the Allegheny National Forest at a cost of $86,000. Here's how the process goes:
We as skiers and snowboarders need to be pro-active. To get started, get on the list to receive the Quarterly Project Report (QPR) that national forests are required to send to interested persons. Ask them to send you their QPR and be placed on their general scoping* list expressing interest in ski area development. We need to find out what's planned in the Ski Areas we enjoy, evaluate the plan and make our voices heard. We can make a difference.
* The process of soliciting public input is know as "scoping*" or determining the scope of the project.