Forest Service Begins New Planning Rule for Forest Management
On December 17, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the Forest Service would, as expected, be undertaking a new rule-making process to create and implement a broader and more collaborative way to manage our National Forests. According to Vilsack this includes protecting watersheds, restoration, managing for the effects of climate change, working across landscapes, and improving collaboration all while helping local economies.
The Obama administration's attention to forest planning regulations follows illegal attempts to weaken protection for our national forests under the Bush administration. The Bush administration's 2008 planning rule was struck down in court last June after it was shown that they had failed to consider the environmental impacts of changing the rule.
Following Secretary Vilsack's announcement, the Forest Service published a Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for creating such a planning rule. That notice is available for public comment through late February. The Sierra Club is working closely with coalition partners to craft comments and suggestions to make sure the final planning regulations meet the needs of our national forests and grasslands while also managing to make them more resilient in the face of climate change. We will continue to work directly with the administration to help move the process along.