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Focus on Forests

by Andrea Iniguez, Desert Field Representative


International Day of Forests is a global celebration that highlights the importance of forests around the world. This event, which takes place on March 21st, was created by the United Nations in 2012 and is a powerful tool for advocacy. In honor of this year’s International Day of Forests, we want to spread awareness on some of the issues impacting California’s forested lands today and feature the work our team has done over the years to safeguard the places we all love.


California is home to 33 million acres of forest land, which are constantly under old and new threats. Our team has been working tirelessly since the 1970s to preserve some of California’s most ancient inhabitants, our mature and old-growth forests. In fact, our Senior Policy Director, Ryan Henson, kickstarted his career in conservation during the peak of the “Timber Wars” (a historic environmental conflict in the 1980s over harvesting of  ancient trees and the habitat they provided for the northern spotted owl) which resulted in the Northwest Forest Plan of 1994 we know today.


However, despite our years of advocacy, Northwest forests and woodlands continue to face immense challenges including climate change and other harmful human activities. If we want to build a sustainable future for all, we need to continue to build on the great achievements of the past.


This year, we have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren by participating in the revision process of the NWFP. For those that aren’t aware, the NWFP, which covers 24.5 million acres of federally managed lands in California, Oregon, and Washington, is currently under revision and the public will have an opportunity to contribute feedback before the plan is amended. While the Initial NWFP Comment Period concluded on February 2nd, we are far from the finish line. Now, the USDA Forest Service will need to assess the more than 9,000 public comments that were submitted and compose a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the public to review. Our team is keeping a close eye on any news from the USDA Forest Service for when this Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be released, and we will keep you informed of any progress.


Similarly, we are keeping a close watch on the Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan (NCIP) revisions and will keep you informed of any engagement opportunities that may arise in the coming months. Last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hosted four information meetings and encouraged the public to attend. The last meeting was held on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, and was virtual. Also, the BLM released the Draft Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement  and gave the public until Thursday, December 28, 2023, to submit their comments. Along with emailing an , our team composed a 67 page letter which carefully outlined the need for more protections in the region. Currently, the BLM is tasked with reviewing and sorting through the long list of comments that the public submitted before moving to the next stage in the , the release of the Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement proposed for June 2024.


The comments our team and community submitted during the comment periods will go a long way in strengthening the protections of the NWFP and NCIP. Again, we want to thank you for supporting our efforts in safeguarding California’s forests. It has been nearly thirty years since Ryan joined our team and the original NWFP was enacted. Let this be the year that we build on that legacy and leave our mark for a more fire and climate resistant future.