Jane Danowitz, U.S. public lands director for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in reaction to a draft of new U.S. Forest Service management rules from the Obama administration.
“The Obama administration's proposal provides some important guidance for restoring our national forests, but takes a significant step backward from the strong wildlife safeguards first issued by President Reagan that are still in force today.
“With our forests facing unprecedented threats from climate change and energy development, protections for water and wildlife are needed now more than ever.
“Our national forests are the source of drinking water for more than 120 million Americans and host more rare species than even our national park system. We hope that the administration will back up its proposal with clear standards for water and wildlife protection.”
The Obama administration's National Forest management rules proposal is being developed under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the law that governs most Forest Service activity. The proposal would replace current NFMA rules originally developed in 1982 and would apply to 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands in 44 states. In December, conservation and sportsmen coalitions sent letters from 10 states, and 10,000 messages from across the country called on the White House and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to provide strong standards in the rules package. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, national forests and grasslands sustain 223,000 jobs in rural areas and contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. National forests are the source of drinking water for about 124 million Americans in 900 U.S. cities.