December 19, 2023
Today the US Forest Service released a Notice of Intent for a national forest plan amendment to conserve and steward old growth forests across the country. This amendment will apply to all forest plans in the National Forest System. Following the scoping period, we expect a draft Environmental Impact Statement to be published in May with a 90-day comment period. The EIS is expected to be finalized in January 2025.
Statement by Senior Policy Advocate Andy Olsen
Environmental Law & Policy Center
“We thank President Biden for his commitment to protect remaining mature and old-growth trees and forests. We are grateful for the announced plan to amend forest plans for our national forests to protect old growth trees and forests. This is a start but there is more yet to do.
“The Forest Service recognizes the value of old-growth forests for climate security and ecological integrity. Recognizing the value of old growth trees and forests is a good step. But we need to see strong action to actually protect them as we face the urgent need to confront climate change, as the President has said.
“While the Forest Service also speaks of the need to “recruit” more old-growth trees and forests, it is proceeding to log just such trees and stands in the Fourmile project area in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) in northern Wisconsin. We have seen many trees in the Fourmile area tagged for logging that may qualify as old-growth trees, or become such in the near future. According to US Forest Service documents these trees are largely headed to pulp mills.
“The CNNF ignored the unique ecological values including the presence of mature and old-growth status forests when selecting trees to cut in Fourmile. These are the very trees we need to keep and steward to become old-growth. ELPC is calling for a pause in logging of Fourmile and re-evaluation so tree and forest age can be considered in plans. We also call for an update and expansion of acreage considered old-growth in the CNNF forest plan.
“Any logging approach must protect habitat, water and climate security.”