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Sat, July 04

Forest officials look at potential increase in special use permits; now accepting comments

People explore the Kanab Creek Wilderness trail October 2012. (Photo/Kaibab National Forest)

People explore the Kanab Creek Wilderness trail October 2012. (Photo/Kaibab National Forest)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Kaibab National Forest (KNF) is accepting comments through June 29 on potential increases in special uses and the number of outfitters and guides permitted to operate on the forest.

While a specific proposal is not yet being put forward, forest officials are seeking input on any new uses in which members of the public may have interest as well as potential new outfitter and guide operators.

New outfitter and guide operations that have been proposed include outfitted dispersed camping and outfitted luxury camping. Possible changes in order to better manage areas experiencing high use could include limits on allotted outfitter and guide service days.

Outfitters and guides are commercial operations that plan trips, provide equipment needed for outdoor activities, and offer varying degrees of logistical support. Current outfitters and guides on the Kaibab National Forest offer services for hunting, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, motorized tours and mountain bike tours.

Outfitters and guides have been operating on the Kaibab National Forest for the last 50 years. All such operations on National Forest System lands require permits. The permit process assures that specific guidelines are in place for all activities permitted. This allows the forest and private entities to agree on terms for operation using an approved operating plan.

In conjunction with seeking public input, KNF is conducting a capacity analysis and needs assessment to determine the potential impacts of increased use on forest resources.

Based on public input received as well as the results of the ongoing analysis and assessment, KNF may consider a forest wide environmental analysis focusing on an increased number of permits issued to outfitters and guides. In addition to identifying the possible needs for outfitter and guide operations, forest managers are considering specific actions to more effectively manage uses in areas that are experiencing a high degree of visitation.

If a proposed action is developed, it will be considered in an environmental assessment, and a formal public comment period will be offered.

Written comments can be submitted by FAX at (928) 635-5680, via mail sent to 742 S. Clover Rd, Williams, AZ 86046 or by email at comments-southwestern-kaibab-williams@usda.gov.

Information provided by Kaibab National Forest

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