Magazine article American Forests

Strengthening Connections: Why Our Connection to the Forests Can Never Be Overlooked

Magazine article American Forests

Strengthening Connections: Why Our Connection to the Forests Can Never Be Overlooked

Article excerpt

The American spirit has been shaped by the nation's majestic landscapes. From the mountains and grasslands, to what must have once seemed like endless forests, the untamed, natural world has inspired us to explore, to dream big dreams, and to ponder the transcendent, all while providing us with countless tangible benefits.

Today, Americans seem less and less connected with the natural world that has shaped our national character, while many of our greatest natural resources--including forests--are threatened or disappearing. This disconnection is happening at a time when we need nature more than ever, as our understanding of the fragile and critical connection between the health of the natural world and our own well-being continues to grow. Our stewardship of both rural and urban forests is inextricably linked to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the medicines that heal us, and the temperature of the planet.

In February, the Obama Administration released two policy statements that have major implications for the future of our nation's forests. Both initiatives deserve bipartisan support.

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The America's Great Outdoors (AGO) report follows President Obama's April 2010 call for an initiative to reconnect the American people to their nation's land, water, forests, and cultural heritage, building upon conservation successes in communities across the nation. AGO recognizes that many of the best ideas come from outside of Washington. As the President said in a memo last year, "Across America, communities are uniting to protect the places they love, and developing new approaches to saving and enjoying the outdoors. They are bringing together farmers and ranchers, land trusts, recreation and conservation groups, sportsmen, community park groups, governments and industry, and people from all over the country to develop new partnerships and innovative programs to protect and restore our outdoor legacy." AGO seeks to make the Federal Government a better partner with stales, native tribes, and local communities in an effort to protect our nation's natural heritage, and encourage all Americans to enjoy it more.

The Forest Service's Planning Rule proposes a set of policies for future management of our 191-million-acre National Forest System and the rules by which the public will be engaged in decisions for this management. "This proposed planning rule seeks to conserve our forests for the benefit of water, wildlife, recreation, and the economic vitality of our rural communities," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "The proposed rule will provide the tools to the Forest Service to make our forests more resilient to many threats, including pests, catastrophic fire, and climate change. …

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