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Responsible Forest Management

The US Agriculture Department recently released a proposal outlining long-awaited forest-planning rules.  The rules, which were mandated in the 1976 National Forest Management Act, are meant to guide forest managers in decisions about which parts can be logged and which should be protected.

The proposed rules embrace many goals promoted by conservationists across the country, including maintaining “viable” animal populations, increased protection for 193 million acres of forest and grassland,  and mandating the use of the best available scientific data in making plans for land and water resources.

However, many argue that the proposed rules are too vague.  Furthermore, they give too much discretion to individual forest managers, who have been easily influenced by timber companies and local politicians.  Though the rules mandate that the biological diversity of an area be measured, they do not spell out how often the measurements should occur, nor what actions should be taken to ensure the long-term vitality of the forests.

The plan is open for public comment until May 16.  To find a public meeting near you, click here.

You can also read an insightful New York Times editorial on the proposed rules by clicking here.

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