July 2, 2008

Summary of Public Comments on State Forest Management Plan Now Available

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has completed a summary and response to public comments made on changes to the Bureau of Forestry's master management plan. The plan will chart the course of Pennsylvania's state forests for future generations.

"We heard from a variety of forest users during the comment period, with some of the most challenging issues discussed being the possibility of developing wind energy on state forestlands, leasing for oil and gas extraction and deer management," State Forester Dan Devlin said. "Hearing from the public gives us insight into their needs and concerns related to the forest, which allows us to adapt our management strategies."

DCNR received 292 written comments. About 340 people attended a series of nine public meetings on the plan this past fall.

The response document describes how the comments will be incorporated into the framework of the management plan.

While the first resource management plan almost 50 years ago focused on timber management, the new plan and its recent revisions take an ecosystem approach, with a goal of future forest health in order to provide an array of resources, uses, and values. A key component of the plan remains the expansion of the state's wild and natural areas by more than 13,000 acres.

As a result of the process, the following themes represent key areas for the bureau to focus on over the next five years:

-- Provide better data and explanations of what is considered when making management decisions, including the tradeoffs and impacts those actions can have;

-- Plan for and establish good communications efforts that involve stakeholders on emerging issues, such as invasive species and ecosystem management; and

-- Improve scientific understandings of the economic, ecological and stakeholder impacts of management decisions, and crisis issues such as global warming and invasive species.

The summary of public comments about the plan can be found at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/ (choose Forestry, then State Forest Resource Management Plan 2007 Update).

CONTACT: Christina Novak

(717) 772-9101

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

CONTACT: Christina Novak of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation andNatural Resources, +1-717-772-9101

Web Site: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/