Adapted from the New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance www.nmohva.org
The "significant issues" are used to develop the alternatives that will be considered in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is the 2nd major step in the NEPA process. Here is very quick example to help explain why the significant issues and alternatives are so important:
If there no scoping comments identifying a lack of quality motorized trails (an "issue"), none of the alternatives will include a statement such as "Objective: Provide additional motorized trails to meet the growing use by the public." If there are no alternatives with this objective defined, the BLM or Forest Plan has zero chance of including this in the Final version. If the Final BLM or Forest Plan has no objective supporting additional motorized trails, the BLM or Forest Service will respond to any future requests for motorized trails with, "Additional motorized trails aren't consistent with the BLM or Forest Plan."
Naturally, this is a very simplistic example but it shows why having the right "issues" identified is so important at the beginning of this process. Issues identified NOW lead directly to alternatives. Anything not in an alternative has no chance of being in the Final Plan.If something is not in the Final Plan, it has very little chance of ever being considered for implementation. It also illustrates why we need to be "thinking ahead" when we identify "issues" for the planning process. If we think we will want/need additional motorized recreation in the coming 15-20 years, we need to identify that "need" as an "issue" now! (If you can not get to the collecting site, for all intent and purposses, the collecting site is closed!)