Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x 102
The Future of Our Forests
Nationwide Series of Public Meetings Kicks Off Today
Washington, D.C.: The U.S. forest service today is holding the first in a long string of public meetings on the future of America's forests. The meeting in our nation's capitol is one of 75 meetings in 34 states and Puerto Rico to gather input on updated standards for planning how America’s 192 million acres of forest are used and protected.
"America's national forests offer one-of-a-kind opportunities for families from coast to coast to recreate, retreat and recharge," said Fran Hunt, director of the Sierra Club's Resilient Habitats campaign. "Today the plants and animals in our forests face new threats, which mean we need to shift how we think about conservation to include whole forest systems and the critical areas that connect them."
The current standards for managing our forests are more than 20 years old. Based on new scientific findings the proposed standards take a more holistic approach to managing and protecting wild places and wildlife--seeking to create healthy natural systems, not just isolated places. This approach creates space for wildlife to adjust to increasingly rapid changes.
For the first time listed among those changes is climate. Under the new proposal the Forest Service is considering how to prepare forests for climate induced changes, like shifting migration and weather patterns. The proposal also examines how forests can be used to clean carbon pollution out of our air and to keep drinking water sources clean.
Modernized standards for planning how our forests are used and protected will ensure that future generations can continue to access and enjoy our national forests. Today, enjoyment of our forests has made them major economic drivers. The wildlife, clean water and scenery provided by our forests are crucial to supporting the nation's $700 billion outdoor recreation economy and the people it employs.
"We're pleased that the Forest Service is making much need updates to forest planning standards. We look forward to working with them to flesh out the details which will ensure that the climate smart ideas in the proposal result in action on the ground. There is a real opportunity here to develop a forest policy that protects wildlife, promotes local business and prepares for the future," concluded Hunt.
The Sierra Club will be holding events and participating in the meetings in California, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Florida, Oregon and Washington, D.C. A full list of public meetings is available here.
Through its Resilient Habitats Campaign the Sierra Club is working across the country to protect wilderness and wildlife so that plants, animals and people are able to survive and thrive on a changing planet. http://www.sierraclub.org/habitat/