02/17/2011 - The sweeping new planning rule unveiled last week by the Forest Service should bring federal forest management in line with 21st century forest science and public values, forest experts say.
The 94-page draft rule (pdf), which will provide the framework for how management plans are crafted for 155 national forests and 20 grasslands covering 193 million acres, will replace a directive that dates back to 1982. All existing forest plans were written under the current rule.
Some environmental groups, however, say the new planning rule falls short when it comes to wildlife protection. Unlike the 1982 rule, the latest version does not include a requirement for maintaining "viable populations" of native wildlife species.
"Its protections for wildlife are pretty weak," said Jane Danowitz, public lands director for the Pew Environment Group. "There are some good aspects to the rule, but when it comes to a couple of key protections [for] wildlife and watersheds, they're not strong and they tend to be left up to the discretion" of local forest managers, she added.
Read the full article '21st Century' Forest Planning Rule Designed to Meet New Challenges on the New York Times' Web site.