USA - USDA: New Forest Planning Rule
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today signaled the U.S. Department of Agriculture's intent to issue a new planning rule for America's 193-million acre National Forest System that seeks to deliver stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of our rural communities, by releasing online a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule. Today's action honors the commitment made by Secretary Vilsack in his 2009 speech on forest management, and by the President in the America's Great Outdoors Report.
Highlights of the preferred alternative include:
- 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.
- Opportunities for public involvement and collaboration would be required throughout all stages of the planning process. The preferred alternative would provide opportunities for Tribal consultation and coordination with state and local governments and other federal agencies, and includes requirements for outreach to traditionally underrepresented communities.
- Plans require the use of the best available scientific information to inform the planning process and documentation of how science was used in the plan.
- The planning framework provides a more efficient and adaptive process for land management planning, allowing the Forest Service to respond to changing conditions.