Tonto National Forest Releases Draft Wilderness Evaluation Map for Comments

Tonto Natl Forest Map

Jan 19 – PHOENIX — A draft evaluation map that shows ranked parcels of Tonto National Forest lands based on their level of wilderness characteristics is available for public review and comments.

AZ Game & FishComments on the draft evaluation map will be most useful if received by Feb. 12, 2018. The public can submit comments in one of two ways:

•    By using the Wilderness Story Map
•    By using the Draft Evaluation Comment Form

TNFThe Forest Service welcomes additional public comments on the wilderness characteristic rankings given to each area identified. The evaluation criteria should be used to provide feedback on the draft evaluation map and ranking determinations. Notes on these determinations can be found in the draft evaluation determination rationale.

For additional questions on submitting a comment, contact the Planning Team at [email protected], or call (602) 225-5200 and ask for the Assistant Forest Planner.

Tonto National Forest officials developed the draft evaluation map as part of the ongoing Wilderness Recommendation Process. This process involves four steps that help officials identify, evaluate, analyze and recommend lands that may be suitable for inclusion as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Superstition WildernessThe draft evaluation map is part of Step 2, Evaluation. In this second step, officials evaluate the wilderness characteristics of all Forest Service lands included in the inventory that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System using a given set of criteria.

According to Neil Bosworth, forest supervisor for the Tonto National Forest, each area on the forest was evaluated for five characteristics: size, apparent naturalness, opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation, unique and outstanding qualities, and manageability.

“We expanded the evaluation criteria to help determine a ranking of wilderness characteristics for each area based on the evaluation criteria developed by public engagement and Tonto National Forest resource specialists,” Bosworth said. “It demonstrates the importance of public feedback as the Forest Service advances to the third and fourth steps in the Wilderness Recommendation Process.”

Visit the Tonto National Forest’s Wilderness Recommendation Page at http://www.tontoplan.org/public-involvement/wilderness-inventory to learn more about the Wilderness Recommendation Process and how to get involved in forest plan revision.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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