USDA Releases Land Management Plan Direction for Old-Growth Forest Conditions Across the National Forest System
On December 20, 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service released its notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in the Federal Register as the agency’s intent to prepare an EIS to evaluate impacts of amending the 128 land management plans. This approach across all management areas is attempting to comply with the Executive Order 14072 as a part of the Administration’s efforts to address climate change and supports their Wildfire Crisis Strategy. An initial inventory on Mature and Old Growth Forests has been completed. However, the national scale land management plan amendments could prove problematic as no two forests are alike.
Mature and Old Growth Trees have been cited by silviculturists as carbon sequestering giants that can also help mitigate wildfire risk. The agency hopes to accomplish this by maintaining old-growth forest conditions and expanding their abundance and distribution. They are attempting to do so by including Indigenous Knowledge and co-stewardship of the resources, as well as establish a National Old-Growth Monitoring Network to track distributions and trends in the forests to use for management adaptations. The WyFB plans to follow the development of the EIS in the coming months and provide comments when appropriate.