The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has launched a planning process that will determine the future management of the remaining ancient trees within seven National Forests in northwestern California and across millions of acres in western Oregon and western Washington. Please take action here by February 2, 2024, to help us urge the USFS to spare our last remaining ancient forests!
More on the Northwest Forest Plan:
The USFS’s planning process is meant to address the future management of habitat for animals like the northern spotted owl (NSO) that need large trees to survive. Most of the largest, oldest, most fire-resistant trees in National Forests in California, Oregon, and Washington were sold by the USFS to the timber industry in a frenzy of unsustainable cutting after World War II that only ended when the government approved the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) of 1994 to help the NSO and other old-growth dependent species recover. The abrupt crash of the government-subsidized logging boom was hard on the economies of all three states, especially rural communities with wood products facilities, and many of these communities remain among California’s poorest.
Even as logging replaced the largest and most fire-resistant trees with thousands of miles of crumbling roads, highly flammable wood waste, and dense thickets of small trees and shrubs, a century-long government crusade to eliminate fire allowed plants that would have been removed by periodic low-intensity fires to grow instead. The impacts of logging and fire suppression have begun to fuel uncontrollable fires of such extreme intensity that they now frequently kill even the largest and most fire-resistant trees and other high-quality old-growth that had escaped the era of big logging and are now protected by the NWFP. These lethally-hot fires worsened now and in the future by climate change, not only pose grave threats to nearby communities but are one of the main reasons that populations of the NSO and other species continue to decline despite the reduction in the cutting of the few remaining large trees.
The new planning effort by the USFS is meant to help reverse these trends by updating the NWFP of 1994. You can help by submitting comments today on this NWFP amendment. Click here to be taken to the portal to submit comments. Please enter your name and contact information in the appropriate boxes. You can provide your comments by cutting and pasting them into the box entitled “Letter Text” or you can attach a saved file from your computer by clicking on the “Select Files” button. Please be sure to check the “I’m not a robot” box and finally and most importantly, please do not forget to hit the “Submit” button.
The USFS is also holding four virtual informational webinars between January 17th and 25th on the NWFP update. Click here for more information.