New USFS Recreational Rule Up for Comment

RAF encourages public comment for continued recreational aviation use on public lands.

RAF Recreational Pilots
RAF Recreational Pilots

The United States Forest Service is revising its National Forest System (NFS) land management planning process, a move that could restrict backcountry flying. A series of roundtable discussions have taken place around the country to collect public input, leading to issuance of a draft rule. AOPA and the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) have participated in several of the roundtable discussions as well as other meetings in Washington, D.C. "Our effort was twofold," said RAF president John McKenna. "First, to be a positive contributor to the process, and second, to raise the awareness that aviation has a legitimate place at the table. We believe we have done both of those." But RAF has expressed the need for public comments to the rule, which will be accepted until May 16.

The part of the 50-page proposed rule that is pertinent to recreational use begins on page 8,519, paragraph 219.10 (Multiple uses). The RAF suggests a standalone component of the rule to address increasing demands for recreational use of NFS land and to increase access to recreational areas through aircraft landing sites on land and water. Further suggestions include separate management strategies for general transportation systems (railroads and freeways) and recreation facilities, and giving "social" and "economic"issues the same attention as "ecological" issues. To comment on the proposed rule, click here.