PUBLISHED: 1:46 PM on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Forest Service announces recreation facility plan
For many people, cherished memories are the most important things the Tongass National Forest produces and recreation sites, such as Forest Service cabins, help create those memories.

That's why the Forest Service is crafting a "Recreation Site - Facility Master Plan" for the nation's largest national forest.

The new plan will reduce backlogged maintenance items by 25 percent over the next five years and will result in improved recreation sites.

"In the long run, this will enhance recreational experiences for forest users because facilities, such as cabins, will be better maintained," said Tongass National Forest Recreation, Lands and Minerals Staff Officer Scott Fitzwilliams. "In order to accomplish that goal, we need to develop more efficient ways to manage the sites, look at alternative funding, and close a few sites that get very little or no use."

This is why public participation is going to be so vital, said Fitzwilliams.

"The number and variety of facilities we are trying to manage on the Tongass for recreation use can't be sustained given the rising costs for materials, transportation and personnel," he said. "We will be working

very closely with the public to decide the priority of sites to continue to maintain and improve to ensure this forest-wide effort meets their needs."