The following statement from Mike Anderson, Senior Resource Analyst for The Wilderness Society, is in response to the Obama Administration’s release of a new National Forest Planning Rule.
“The Forest Service has needed a new planning rule for some time in order to move forward with the important task of updating management plans for the National Forest System. The process of revising forest management plans is an important one – it gives citizens a voice in the management of their national forests and assurance that our national forests will successfully fulfill their role as providers of clean water, healthy outdoor recreation, and habitat to imperiled species.
“The agency’s latest proposal provides a strong vision and generally sound framework for sustainably managing our national forests, and represents an improvement over the earlier draft in many respects. It relies on sound science, provides direction to protect the ecological integrity of national forests, creates mechanisms for addressing climate change, and emphasizes the importance of water. We are hopeful that it will result in management plans that reflect modern-day thinking about ecosystem management, and that provide important services like clean drinking water and great recreational experiences.
“The Forest Service has made a sincere effort to reach out to the public, scientists, and stakeholder groups as it developed the new planning rule, and it is clear from the changes contained in this new draft that they have attempted to address many of the public’s concerns.
“Although we agree with the proposed rule’s overall vision, problems with the specifics remain. For example, we are concerned that the Forest Service will not be adequately accountable for achieving the rule’s goals, and that unfair bureaucratic requirements will interfere with citizens’ ability to voice concerns and challenge agency decisions. We urge the Administration to address these and other important concerns before the rule is finalized.
“We look forward to working with the Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the remaining problems with the rule, and once the rule is finalized to begin the process of developing more effective management plans for our national forests.”