PHOENIX, January 26, 2017 — For Immediate Release. 
As Tonto National Forest officials begin drafting a management plan for the Apache Leap Special Management Area, interested parties have until January 31, 2017, to provide inputs to help forest officials craft content during development of the management plan.

The public can submit inputs by mail to: Apache Leap SMA, P.O. Box 34468, Phoenix, AZ 85067-4468. Further information concerning the development of the management plan can be found online at Apache Leap Special Management Area.

Section 3003 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 establishes the Apache Leap Special Management Area as well as preparation of a management plan for the area. As part of a larger land exchange proposal between the government and Resolution Copper -- the operating company and project proponent for a proposed underground copper mine near Superior – Resolution Copper will transfer its 142-acre Apache Leap parcel to the TNF. This parcel will be added to an existing 697-acre area of the TNF to form the 839-acre Apache Leap Special Management Area, which encompasses the Apache Leap escarpment, east of Superior.

According to TNF Project Manager Mary Rasmussen, “The finished plan will offer strategic direction for managing the land and resources within the special area boundary as well as a framework for guiding future decisions on site specific projects and activities. During plan preparation the Forest Service must consider whether additional measures are necessary to protect the cultural, archeological, or historical resources of Apache Leap.

“Thru previous meetings with affected Indian Tribes, the public and special interest groups, the Forest Service is aware that recreational access and possible expanded recreational opportunities are important considerations,” she added.

The NDAA directs completion of the management plan by December 2017.  A draft plan that incorporates inputs from stakeholders is planned for release to the public in March 2017 as part of an environmental review process. The public then will have an opportunity to comment on the draft plan.