The Nature Conservancy welcomes the release of the proposed 2012 Planning Rule Directives, which will provide guidance on land management for the USDA Forest Service’s 193 million acres over the next decade. These directives follow the release of last year’s final Planning Rule, which replaced the previous 30-year year old Planning Rule.
“We are glad that the Forest Service is having this open process to get the best public input for the directives that will guide all National Forest and Grasslands for the coming decades. We support the planning regulation’s emphasis on more collaborative, community, and science based forest management,” said Chris Topik, Restoring America’s Forests director for The Nature Conservancy.
“Healthy forests support the well-being of our nation, yet nearly half of our National Forests are operating with out-of-date plans. It is time for all Americans who love and use our wonderful National Forests to roll up our sleeves and get back to work restoring these lands and waters that provide so many life-giving services to America.”
Forests cover one-third of the United States; store and filter half the nation’s water supply; provide jobs to more than a million wood products workers; absorb 13% of U.S. carbon emissions; offer 650 million acres of recreational lands; generate more than $13 billion per year in recreation and other economic activity on Forest Service lands alone; and provide habitat for thousands of species across the country.
Yet our forests today face a “perfect storm” of threats, which took a century in the making:
1. Since the early 1900s we sought to suppress all natural wildfires; over decades this policy led to unhealthy forests choked with brush and small trees, resulting in the costly mega-fires we see today.
2. Current outbreaks of pests and pathogens further exacerbate this harm, along with a legacy of poorly planned logging roads, sprawling development, and a changing climate.
3. Many of our policies that are supposed to manage forests are causing gridlock. The result is forest restoration actions are lagging far behind the problems.
All told, The Nature Conservancy estimates 100 million acres of America’s forests –the size of Colorado and New York combined– are now in immediate need of restoration.
Science plays a clear role in the new plan. Decision makers will be required to inform their plan development with science, and be transparent about how science was used to inform their assessment, decision, and follow-up monitoring.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy