Forest Service Proposes to Amend Forest Plans for Old Growth

Forest Service Proposes to Amend Forest Plans for Old Growth

The U.S. Forest Service announced a proposal to amend all 128 forest land management plans to protect old growth forests. The amendment would direct place-based strategies for old growth forest conservation and management, in partnership with Tribal communities and in collaboration with local stakeholders. According to a press release, the strategies will be adaptive and factor in the unique opportunities and challenges of a particular area, which will allow for more flexibility in responding to rapid changes in wildfire behavior, drought, insects, and disease. The amendment would prohibit vegetation management within old-growth forest conditions when the primary purpose is to grow, tend, harvest, or regenerate trees for economic reasons.

“Old-growth forests are a vital part of our ecosystems and a special cultural resource. This proposed nationwide forest plan amendment – the first in the agency’s history – is an important step in conserving these national treasures,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Climate change is presenting new threats like historic droughts and catastrophic wildfire. This clear direction will help our old-growth forests thrive across our shared landscape.”

Scoping on the proposal was initiated on December 20 as a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register. The Environmental Impact Statement will evaluate the effects of a national land management plan amendment. During the amendment process, proposed management actions in old-growth forests will be governed by an interim policy, that requires review and approval by the national forest system deputy chief.

Public comments are encouraged before February 2, 2024, and can be submitted via webform.

January 16, 2024