New national forest rule lacks rigor

Posted: Mar 17, 2011

Written by

JUDITH LEWIS MERNIT, High Country News

If you had come upon the U.S. Forest Service's new draft planning rule in the second week of February and, unable to contain your curiosity, given it a hasty read, you might have come away impressed.

Since 1982, the forest planning rule has provided the blueprint for managing 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands; every individual plan derives from it. And unlike two forest rule proposals from the previous administration, this current draft seems realistically up to that task. It suggests responding to new threats with the fluid wisdom of emerging science, not the dogma of sclerotic bureaucracy. It encourages adapting policies to the 21st-century pressures of climate change and disease. It recommends involving the public as deeply as possible in forest planning.

The draft also upholds certain accepted goals of forest management from the 1982 rule, such as maintaining healthy wildlife populations and preserving the diversity of forest plant life. What it doesn't do, however, is clearly obligate local forest managers to meet those goals.

To read more about the Draft Planning Rule, from Natural Resources Law Center Director, Mark Squillace, look here.

To send a comment to the Forest Service, click here.

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