Dear Interested Citizen:

Thank you for your interest in the Southern Forest Resource Assessment. The Assessment was initiated by four Federal agencies in April 1999 as a result of questions raised by natural resource professionals and the public regarding the status and possible future of forests in the South. These questions addressed rapid urbanization, increasing demand for southern timber, changing processing technologies such as chip mills, forest pests, and changing air quality and their effects on a broad range of forest resources.

Following a preliminary analysis of the issues involved, regional leaders of the USDA Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Valley Authority agreed to cooperate on a comprehensive regional study of southern forests. Southern State forestry and fish and wildlife agencies were engaged as cooperators, and an assessment process was initiated. The USDA Forest Service, through its Southern Region and Southern Research Station, has led the Assessment.

The draft Assessment Report is the culmination of more than 2 years of effort by more than 25 scientists and analysts from the four Federal agencies listed above as well as southern universities. Each chapter of the draft Assessment Report, as well as the Summary Report have been peer-reviewed prior to revision and release in their current form. More than 100 peer reviewers from public agencies, universities, private industry, and conservation groups have contributed their expertise to this part of the effort.

The interested public has also actively participated in the process. The Assessment questions that guided the work were developed after careful consultation with the public. Work plans for each question were developed in full public view and with public input. Assessment team meetings have been open to the public, and the public has interacted with the team along the way.

We are happy to now share the results of this work in draft form and provide another opportunity for the public to provide feedback before all reports are finalized and published. Although these draft reports have been peer-reviewed, we seek additional input to ensure that the Assessment questions have been addressed as thoroughly and accurately as possible.

Comments should address the content of the Assessment, specifically the completeness and accuracy of the work. We ask that your written comments clearly indicate the chapter(s) to which they apply. Specify sections and page numbers if possible. If you recommend consideration of an additional source of information, please include citation information so it can be readily located. Copies of reference articles would be very helpful.

Following the 60 days of public review, we will distribute the written comments to the authors of each chapter and ask them to carefully consider and utilize the comments as they finalize their work. We do not expect these authors to conduct substantial additional analyses or mathematical modeling, or to reformat or overhaul draft chapters. Rather, we will expect them to incorporate relevant new information brought to their attention and correct any errors.

During this 60-day period we will also receive your suggestions regarding subregional areas that, based on information contained in the draft report and your personal knowledge, could warrant additional analysis to elucidate resource trends and conditions at a finer scale than practical in a regional study. Such areas must meet the Criteria for Identifying Sub-Regional Focus Areas Candidates, located on the Assessment Web site: www.srs.fs.fed.us/sustain. If you choose to propose an area for further study, be certain to provide your rationale, supporting data and information, how it meets the selection criteria, and specific trends or conditions needing analysis. The Assessment's interagency organizers will evaluate and prioritize candidate areas. Depending on available funding and other resources, subsequent analyses will be initiated.

Please forward comments to us by February 1, 2002. They should be addressed to:

Again, thanks for your interest in southern forests and this Assessment.

Sincerely,

John G. Greis David N. Wear

Assessment Co-Leader Assessment Co-Leader

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