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Unpacking new U.S. Forest Service proposals' potential impact on naturism
Navigating the uncertainties of newly proposed Forest Service rules and advocating for clearer guidelines on naturism and nude recreation
The U.S. Forest Service, under the Department of Agriculture, has unveiled a new proposal aimed at revising its criminal prohibitions, and they are currently seeking comment from the public. At first glance, the core intent of these modifications appears to be the containment of aggressive and illicit behaviors on Forest lands. In the nuanced language of the proposal, nudity or nudism is not explicitly addressed. However, there are broad terminologies and ambiguous phrases in the rules that warrant the attention of the naturist community.
In navigating through this bureaucratic tapestry, I bring forth my personal interpretation—cultivated from a personal perspective and admittedly with a modest expertise in the labyrinth of legislative language. This article aspires to unfold the layers of the proposal, striving to spotlight areas that may ripple into the realms of naturist expressions and freedoms.
The crux of the proposal
The objective of the proposal, officially labelled FS-2023-0012-0001, is to enhance consistency across law enforcement practices, specifically focusing on areas such as fire prevention, use of vehicles on National Forest System roads and trails, controlled substances, alcoholic beverages, and protection of individuals and property on National Forest System lands.
The major goals of this proposal include:
Simplifying the enforcement of criminal prohibitions related to fire and vehicle use on National Forest System (NFS) roads and trails by removing the necessity to issue an order for enforcement.
Increasing their authority to enforce prohibitions concerning the possession of controlled substances, drug paraphernalia, and alcoholic beverages.
Enhancing protections against theft of personal property on NFS lands and disorderly conduct by visitors.
While the rules aim to better manage and safeguard these areas, there are a few specific concerns for those advocating for body freedom and nude recreation:
1. “Indecent Exposure” and its ambiguities
One of the significant concerns for our community arises from the mention of "indecent exposure" in the proposed rules relating to disorderly conduct. The term is not specifically defined in the proposal, which can lead to inconsistent interpretations, awareness, and education.
Without a clear definition, there's a risk that "indecent exposure" could be broadly applied, potentially criminalizing the simple act of being nude in nature, an activity cherished by naturists around the US, and enjoyed by human beings across the globe for many millennia.
2. Deference to local laws
Another pivotal aspect is the proposal's tendency to defer to local laws, particularly concerning the possession of alcoholic beverages and drug paraphernalia. While streamlining is generally beneficial, this approach may lead to inconsistent enforcement. Local laws concerning nudity can vary widely, which may further complicate the understanding and practice of nude recreation on forest lands.
3. Advocating for Naturist Protections
There's a noticeable absence of provisions specifically addressing the rights and freedoms of naturists within the proposed rules. As the proposal undergoes revisions, it's crucial to advocate for the inclusion of protections for those who practice naturism. This could include clarifications on what constitutes "indecent exposure," establishing designated areas for naturists, or ensuring that mere nudity isn't criminalized without cause.
Commenting on the Proposal
Your voice matters. The Forest Service is actively seeking public comments on this proposal until December 4, 2023. Comments should:
Address issues directly related to the proposed rule.
Provide reasons for any suggested changes.
Reference specific sections and wording, if possible.
Be submitted in writing before the deadline.
Comments can also be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal or mailed/hand-delivered to the designated address. Remember, your comments become public records. For more information on commenting and to view others' comments, visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal. In the search box, enter “FS-2023-0012-0001” and click the “Search” button.
When crafting your comment, be concise and clear. Use specific examples or scenarios to illustrate your points. Focus on the impact of the proposal on personal and community experiences, and offer constructive suggestions and alternatives.
The Forest Service's proposed rule changes present both challenges and opportunities for the nudist community. My interpretation of the proposed here—which comes from a novice level understanding of how such rules work, at best—is that there’s a lot of room for misinterpretation of the rules around nude use, and that naturists and outdoor enthusiasts should really want to spell out the rules with as much clarity as possible.
I’ll be the first to admit that my interpretations may be off. I may be misreading something, or missing something entirely. Have you read the rules? What’s your interpretation? Leave your thoughts in the comments. By better understanding the intricacies of these proposals and voicing our concerns and suggestions, we can work towards a more inclusive and understanding framework that respects and acknowledges the rights of all, including those who should choose to embrace nature in its purest form. 🪐
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