Comment period extended for Mark Twain National Forest proposed recreation changes
Mark Twain National Forest is seeking comments on proposed changes to its developed recreation sites. The changes are needed to provide a sustainable recreation program for the public to enjoy. After an internal review of all 159 developed recreation sites on the Forest, along with initial public input, the Forest developed the proposed strategy, which includes:
· 51 sites with no proposed change,
· 14 sites to be converted to general Forest area as infrastructure is removed, and
· 94 sites with varying proposed changes ranging from increased amenities to changes in the level of operations and maintenance.
The comment period began May 12 and was scheduled to end June 22. To be respectful of health and safety, no in-person public meetings had been held. Three virtual public meetings were held, but due to low participation and few comments, the Forest has decided to extend the comment period by 60 days. Public comment on this proposal will now be accepted through August 21.
To learn more about the proposed changes, visit Mark Twain National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf and look for the link under “Highlights” toward the bottom of the home page. Comments can be emailed to SM.FS.MTNF_Rec@usda.gov. The Forest is in the process of planning some in-person public meetings to be held during this comment extension period.
Since 2019, the Forest has been working to develop a strategy that prioritizes its investments and pursues changes in operations and maintenance to sites creating a sustainable recreation program. The strategy is intended to reduce operations and maintenance costs and maximize public benefits, while balancing social, economic and environmental factors. The forest expects to complete the 5-year Recreation Facility Strategy and begin implementation during the 2021 recreation season.
Some recreation site changes may require a level of environmental analysis through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The comments collected during the comment period as well as contact information will become part of the project record. There will be an opportunity for continued public engagement through the NEPA process, as it applies to individual sites in the future.