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Statement: USDA announces plans to protect mature forests while addressing wildfire


Photo: Measuring an ancient tree within the Upper Cheat River logging sale, West Virginia. Credit: John Coleman


For Immediate Release:

Friday, January 20, 2023


Contacts:

Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org

Ellen Montgomery, Environment America, (720) 583-4024, emontgomery@environmentamerica.org

Jackson Chiappinelli, Earthjustice, (585) 402-2005, jchiappinelli@earthjustice.org



Groups welcome new focus on mature, old-growth and highlight need for protections from logging



WASHINGTON - As part of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement on new efforts to address wildfires, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack directed the Forest Service to protect and look for opportunities to restore mature and old-growth forests. In April 2022, President Biden issued an Executive Order that directed the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to “Strengthen the Nation’s Forests” including developing “conservation strategies that address threats to mature and old-growth forests on Federal lands.”


Conservation groups have identified logging as a threat, highlighting 22 current federal logging projects targeting nearly 370,000 acres of mature and old-growth trees and forests in recent reports.


In response to the USDA announcement, member groups of the Climate Forests Campaign issued the following statement:


“One of the most effective ways to conserve and restore the extent of old-growth forests, which have largely been lost to logging, is to let mature trees grow. While the Forest Service is doing their critical work to address wildfire, this announcement makes clear that the agency must also protect mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal lands from unnecessary logging.


Mature and old-growth trees are generally fire resilient and continue to store and absorb significant amounts of carbon. We welcome this new focus on protecting these mature trees and forests for their climate, biodiversity, and other values. USDA’s recognition that necessary fire management measures must be responsive to President Biden’s direction to conserve mature and old-growth forests is important. The next step is clear—the Biden administration must move quickly to enact a durable rule protecting mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal lands from logging.”

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The Worth More Standing report spotlights federal forest-management practices that are liquidating mature and old-growth forests and trees every day. It includes 10 examples that are part of a pervasive pattern of federal forest mismanagement that routinely sidesteps science to turn carbon-storing giants into lumber. Learn what actions you can take to protect Climate Forests across the country.

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