According to a news release from LBL the "highest aim" of the plan is to provide a "balanced mix of facilities and services that provide desired benefits to the visiting public."
When the LBL area was transferred to United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service control in 1999, the LBL Protection Act required the Forest Service to revise the Tennessee Valley Authority 1994 management plan into a Forest Service Land and Resource Management plan that complies with laws and regulations that apply to all declared national forests.
USDA Forest Service officials approved the plan after careful scientific analysis and consideration of 280 public comments.
The plan is not detailed as to exactly what officials plan to do with LBL, rather it provides a framework for future decisions. The original 1994 plan will not be changed much, although three issues are addressed in the plan, according to the release.
Vegetation Management, special designations and recreation and environment education are the three main issues addressed by the plan. Those three issues are addressed by asking what the Forest Service can do to manage the areas properly to insure "optimum yield" in all categories.
Area Planner Barbara Wysock said the plan was announced ahead of schedule, which allowed for additional public input.
"This entire planning process was accomplished in less than 2 years, rather than the typical 4 to 6 years, through the efforts of dedicated staff and collaboration with the public," said Wysock. "Accelerating the process allowed for citizens to stay more connected with the process and resulted in significant savings to taxpayers."
She also said the Forest Service will begin implementing the plan with additional public input requested.
Some of the highlights of the plan include diverse goals and aspirations. Some goals include:
o Providing two Nature Watch Demonstration Areas, one in Kentucky and one in Tennessee, to enhance environmental education, wildlife and recreation programs.
o Increasing wildlife habitat diversification by establishing two Oak-Grassland Demonstration Areas to restore woodland conditions in the upland oak forests, similar to those which occurred at the time of European Settlement.
o Improving the ecological diversity of LBL through a wide range of proven and appropriate management methods.
o Maintaining camping within the current Turkey Bay OHV Area, while sustaining natural resources for future generations to enjoy.
o Balancing dispersed and facility-based activities to provide more overall opportunities, while addressing concerns for unmanaged recreation and operational costs.
Area Supervisor Bill Lisowsky praised the public for their input and said the input from the public had a large impact on the decisions that were made as to how to manage the area.
"The Area Plan for LBL is the culmination of a collaborative effort between the public and the Forest Service, with the helpful suggestions of our Advisory Board," Lisowsky said. "This valuable input helped us identify and respond to needed changes while improving both our analyses and final decision."
Public comments suggested a wide variety of concerns that many people have. In total, 286 comments were received from individuals, organizations, politicians and government agencies.
Some comments were positive and likewise negative. The Forest Service was accused of being untruthful to civilians and also mismanaging the area according to federal laws and regulations. Other comments were positive in nature, suggesting possible alternatives to current management methods.
The preliminary draft plan was released on March 26 which opened the public comment period. The public comment period ended in June when the final draft began being drafted.