The Obama administration yesterday proposed a new forest planning rule that will guide the management of 155 forests, 20 grasslands and one prairie in the National Forest System, which makes up 193 million acres and receive s more than 170 million visitors a year.
Earlier this month I wrote here about the administration’s decision to ban any new mining claims near the Grand Canyon for the next 20 years, a decision that protects over 1 million acres of public lands, including National Forests. Let’s hope the spirit of conservation has guided this ruling also.
From The Washington Post:
In announcing the new procedures, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said they were crafted to enhance the nation’s water supplies while maintaining woodlands for wildlife, recreation and timber operations. The lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s drinking water, according to the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the Agriculture Department.
“Restoration is the philosophy, with a focus on forest health and our water,” Vilsack told reporters in a conference call, adding that the rules require that planning decisions be “driven by sound science.”
The New Blueprint
Here’s a look at some of the main guidelines in the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or PEIS, for the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule released January 26:
• Plans must include components that seek to restore and maintain forests and grasslands.
• Plans would include requirements to maintain or restore watersheds, water resources, water quality, including clean drinking water, and the ecological integrity of riparian areas.
• Plans would be required to provide habitat for plant and animal diversity and species conservation. These requirements are intended to keep common native species common, contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate species, and protect species of conservation concern.
• Plans would provide for multiple uses, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, wildlife and fish.
• Plans would be required to provide opportunities for sustainable recreation, and to take into account opportunities to connect people with nature.
The guidelines, which will take effect in early March, represent the first meaningful overhaul of forest rules in 30 years. The George W. Bush administration had issued a management-planning rule for national forests in 2008, but a federal court struck it down the next year on the grounds that it did not provide adequate protection for plants and wildlife.
Read more: american forest & paper company, american forests, connecting people to nature, doc hastings, obama administration, outdoor recreation, pacfiic north west, tom vilsack, US national forest, US national parks
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