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. The planning rule provides the framework for Forest Service land management plans for the 155 forests, 20 grasslands and 1 prairie in the National Forest System.The Sierra Club's Frances Hunt, director of the Resilient Habitats campaign issued a statement that included this:
The new standards announced today can help ensure that our forests will survive for future generations to explore and enjoy. We will continue to work with the Forest Service to promote effective enforcement of strong habitat protections and implementation of plans that are in the best long term interest of our great outdoors.The Center for Biological Diversity was not so conciliatory:
Today’s rule is a step up from the Bush administration’s rule, but its protections are still a far cry from Reagan-era regulations that the Forest Service has been trying to weaken for 12 years,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director at the Center. “Our publicly owned national forests should be a safe haven for wildlife. In the face of unprecedented global climate change and other threats to species, the Forest Service should be trying to strengthen, not weaken, protections for wildlife on our public lands.Watershed protection is paramount to any other consideration on the Forest.