Forest Service Updates Planning Rule and Restoration Plans

Article excerpt

THE BEGINNING OF 2012 USHERED IN SOME big changes for America's forests that will better equip the USDA Forest Service to meet its goal to "sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations."

The first of these measures was the release of the USDA Forest Service Planning Rule. Designed to govern the management of the nation's 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands, the Planning Rule hadn't seen a major update since 1982--an update under the George W. Bush administration was struck down in federal courts. The new Planning Rule contains some key features for which American Forests strongly advocated, including prioritizing water quality and watershed restoration issues; recognizing the importance of wildlife and recreation in land management; and strengthening the use of the best-available science in forest planning. The rule also emphasizes the need for collaborative efforts with local partners for successful forest management. This collaborative emphasis was strongly backed up in another early 2012 Forest Service announcement. …