*This strategy, which was presented and agreed to by the National Leadership Team, was modified to reflect a change in the 1998 IC overhead team and to update the current members of the Working Group.
TYPE OF ACTION REOUESTED: Decision on Forest Service approach to provide public safety and protect natural resources during large group activities.
BACKGROUND: At the winter NLC the following DECISIONS were reached:
To establish a consistent national approach to managing large group activities that redeems our responsibility for the protection of life and resources, and maintains credibility with our publics. The following strategies were agreed to:
~ Management of Activity: The activity will be managed by a nationally appointed overhead team.
~ Funding: Funding for large ( 10,000+ people), unplanned activities with multi-regional impacts will be accomplished through a Washington Office account. The amount available is approximately $500,000.
~ Law Enforcement: Enforce applicable laws and regulations, inside and outside the perimeter of the activity, commensurate with law enforcement capability and current standards/thresholds set by the affected judicial district, in a fair and consistent manner.
The team was directed to:
Identify a working group to determine a law enforcement approach with full consideration of the value of large group attendees and that protected their civil rights and report back to the NLC in April.
The team formed a working group that discarded the notion of a law enforcement strategy and developed a Forest Service strategy that seeks to achieve resource protection and public safety. Members of the Working Group are:
John Twiss, Forest Supervisor, Black Hills NF
Kim Thorsen, LE&I, WO
Alice Carlton, RH&WR, WO
Jerry Stephens, Somerset District Ranger, Daniel Boone NF
Dennis Neill, Public Affairs, Region 2
Malcolm Jowers, Special Agent, North Carolina Zone
Bill Fox, Special Agent, Missoula, MT
Highlights of the Forest Service Strategy are:
~ Seamlessly integrate law enforcement personnel and actions into the total management of an event.
~ Recognizes that large group attendees are customers who, within law and regulation, have the right to gather on the national forests.
~ Acknowledges the religious aspects and other Constitutional rights of large group activities.
~ Recommends the use of resource protection and public safety tactics like Supervisor's Orders and road checkpoints.
~ The Assistant Director for LE&I, Operations and Policy, will collaborate with line officers and key members of the incident command team to develop the specific enforcement tactics for a given large group activity.
~ Safety and effectiveness of forest personnel cannot be compromised during large group activities. As a minimum:
* Have in place communication systems such as radios and repeaters.
* Firearms and other appropriate defensive equipment will be worn and visible at all times for authorized personnel.
* Within the activity, personnel shall have equipment appropriate to administer the permit.
* Through cooperative agreements personnel will work with local agencies to provide assistance for large group activities.
* "Quality Standards for Investigations," prepared by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) will be met.
The cornerstone of this strategy is to seek voluntary compliance to protect life and natural rev sources. Implementation tactics include:
Education: by distributing printed materials, forest officer contact, and at road checkpoints.
Engineering: by actions such as locating events in areas that can tolerate large numbers of people, that are away from critical wildlife habitat and cultural sites, and that have adequate vehicle access and sewage facilities. The issuance of Noncommercial Group Use permits and of appropriate Forest Supervisor closure orders aid in achieving this.
Enforcement: by law enforcement personnel when voluntary compliance
cannot be achieved.