New Forest Rules Move to Next Phase
As the public comment period for the U.S. Forest Service’s new planning rule came to a close yesterday more than 45,000 comments were submitted through the Resilient Habitats campaign. The comments were collected at public meetings held across the country and through on-line outreach efforts.
Total more than 75 public meetings were held in 34 states and Puerto Rico to gather input on how America's 192 million acres of forest are used and protected in the future. The Sierra Club held events and participated in the meetings in California, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Florida, Oregon and Washington D.C. You can read our official comments here.
The current guidelines for managing our forests are more than 20 years old. Those now proposed by the Forest Service make much needed updates based on new science, including the realization that places cannot be protected in isolation. The rule also for the first time addresses the threat of climate change and the role that forests can play in helping store carbon pollution.
However, the provisions fall short of providing the detail needed to make sure that the ideas in the proposal result in action on the ground. Baseline protections and clear requirements for how to protect water resources, promote healthy wildlife populations and manage forests to clean carbon pollution out of the air are needed. (A letter sent by the Sierra Club and our allies outlines the needed improvements in more detail.)
The scale of the threats facing our forests and the range of expected changes make it absolutely essential for the Forest Service to provide as much guidance as possible to help forest managers figure out how to help protect our forests.
The Forest Service will now spend several months analyzing the comments it has collected from the public.