The Northwest Forest Plan is working. The Plan, developed by federal agency scientists at the direction of President Clinton, is the single most important regulation of federal lands in the Pacific Northwest. Intended to stop the timber wars by protecting the mature and old-growth forests that species like the northern spotted owl require, the Plan has been mostly successful in achieving its targets
Almost thirty years after the Plan was passed, the Forest Service is beginning amendments to the Plan to account for our changing needs for federal lands and our increased knowledge base. The Biden Administration has formed a “federal advisory committee” to provide recommendations to the Forest Service on amendments to the Plan.
EPIC is working with partners across the Pacific Northwest to fight to preserve the landscape-level habitat planning that has made the Northwest Forest Plan a success, and to enact better protections to ensure that our forests are safe and sustainable for future generations of humans (and owls, salamanders, voles, fishers, salmon and other life) to enjoy.
Broadly, EPIC seeks to ensure the following:
Increase tribal management opportunities on their ancestral lands. Tribes have successfully managed their lands since time immemorial and increasing opportunities for tribal management offers opportunities to both improve management and address historic wrongs by the United States government.
Protect the reserve network of the Northwest Forest Plan. The Plan has been a success because it moved many older forests into “reserves” that limited commercial logging. It is imperative that we preserve these reserves against an attack by the timber industry to open more lands to logging.
Incorporate climate change into the plan by preserving more carbon-rich forestlands against commercial logging.
Protect complex early-seral forests against logging. Fires have had a transformative effect on western forests in the past twenty years. We worsen the condition of present and future fire-affected forests by logging large-diameter snags. We need to better protect these lands against extractive commercial logging to improve forest health.
Stop the extinction of the northern spotted owl by combining lethal removal of invasive barred owls with habitat protection and restoration.
Rightsize timber expectations. One of the loudest complaints from the timber industry was that the Northwest Forest Plan did not achieve ambitious targets for logging. The timber industry is working to open more lands to logging. We need to set new timber targets that more appropriately limit the amount of commercial logging on public lands.
Bring back our beavers. Beavers are missing from much of their historic range. The Northwest Forest Plan amendments offer an exciting opportunity to help restore beavers.
You can read our full joint comment letter to the federal advisory committee here: