WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts expressed support today for the U.S. Forest Service’s announcement that it is establishing an advisory committee to “provide advice and recommendations on landscape management approaches that promote sustainability, climate change adaptations, and wildfire resilience” across the roughly 20 million acre Northwest Forest Plan area in Washington, Oregon, and California.
The maintenance of healthy forests is critical for a strong and vibrant Pacific Northwest, providing benefits that include clean water and clean air, natural carbon storage, and support for outdoor recreation-based economies. Initiated in 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan has been a success story, slowing the decline of several endangered species, protecting large swaths of old-growth forests, and improving watershed conditions.
Today, the Pacific Northwest’s forests are facing a new set of climate-driven challenges. Fluctuating temperature and precipitation patterns across the region are creating new threats to forest health—while also magnifying impacts from insects, disease, and uncharacteristic wildfire. These pressures, along with increased scientific understanding and information from the Northwest Forest Plan’s monitoring components, highlight the need for plan updates to maintain healthy, resilient forests for future generations.
Marcia Argust, the director of Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation program, issued this statement:
“The Northwest Forest Plan has been a real success for the health of forests in the region, but the plan needs to be updated to meet current and anticipated challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss. We commend the Forest Service’s proposed science-based approach, which will ensure that the plan supports the sustainability of these landscapes in light of future demands.
“Setting up a diverse advisory committee to tackle these issues and make scientifically sound recommendations is an important first step and will provide the Forest Service and the American public with a clear pathway to more resilient national forests in the Pacific Northwest.
“Pew supports the Forest Service’s pursuit of a climate-smart update to the Northwest Forest Plan that will help sustain the region’s forests and communities for years to come, and we look forward to partnering with the agency in this effort.”
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