U.S. Forest Service holds meeting to discuss issues surrounding the Sierra National Forest

August 17, 2013 2:21:23 PM PDT
The U.S. Forest Service is trying to spread awareness about key issues surrounding the Sierra National Forest, which includes a controversial plan to protect three animal species.

Staff members with the U.S. Forest Service say not enough minorities enroll in careers with the agency. Saturday the U.S. Forest Service met with students to share more about their work. They also made themselves available to several people who had concerns about the future of the national forest.

About 20 middle school and high-school students met members of the U.S. Forest Service to get an in depth look at the challenges facing the Sierra National Forest.

Juana Rosas hopes these gatherings will spark a life-long interest in preservation in the students.

"They need to learn about the forest service to love it and to feel a passion for it," Rosas, with the Central California Consortium said.

At the event pamphlets were scattered across most tables, they addressed concerns about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. The pamphlets looked into restrictions for 2 million acres of land in 14 counties including Fresno, Tulare, Mariposa and Madera.

The agency wants to protect three endangered species, the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog, the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and the Yosemite Toad.

"We will identify what changes need to be made and how we manage the forest," Dean Gould with the U.S. Forest Service said.

In June Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said the restrictions would mean less management of vegetation in the Sierra National Forest and an increase in fire dangers.

On Saturday, Steve Brink also shared his concerns about the plan.

"You might not see a campground expanded, you might not see as much vegetation control, you may even see less road maintenance, trail maintenance all because somebody thinks it might impact a frog or a toad," Steve Brink with the California Forestry Association said.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says the protection won't be as limiting as people think. The forest service is currently taking public comments before creating a roadmap for the next 20 years.

If you would like to take part in that discussion the public comment period is open until September 19.


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