February 2008

Tonto National Forest Extends Public Comment Period

The Tonto National Forest has extended the public comment period for their draft five-year program of work for recreation facilities. The original public comment period was due to end Jan. 15, but the period is now extended to Feb.15.

“We are concerned that citizens were busy over the recent holidays and haven’t had time to fully study the proposed program of work,” observed Dave Killebrew, forest recreation planner and project manager.

“Our public input has amounted to around 30 comments, and many of the comments do not apply to the recreation facilities analysis. This will give our customers more time to study our draft proposal and give us better-informed input.

“We’re not proposing major changes to our existing forest recreation operations, which may account for the relatively sparse public input. We are looking at removing six picnic tables at Burnt Corral campground, which are not being used by the public.

“Increasing fee compliance is another objective addressed in the analysis to ensure that the cost of maintaining recreation facilities is shared fairly among visitors. We are going to look at creating recreation fees for four sites in the Pinal Mountains, but when we get to that specific action, there will be an entirely separate public input process, and those results will have to be studied very carefully before any presentation to the Arizona Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC).

“The plan also proposes some changes in days and hours of operation for sites with low visitation at certain times in order to reduce maintenance costs.”

Delvin Lopez, Public Service group leader, said, “Visitor satisfaction is the bottom line. We need and value customer input as we all work together to ensure a higher quality and more efficiently managed recreation site program — while also operating and maintaining sites within our forest resource allocations.”

Comments can be provided to the forest by mail at RFA (attention: Dave Killebrew), Tonto National Forest, 2324 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85006, by fax (602) 225-5295 (ATTN: RFA) or by e-mail: dkillebrew@fs.fed.usThis extended public comment period ends Feb. 15.

For further information about the Recreation Facility Analysis, please visit the Tonto National Forest Web site to see the analysis: www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto