Species like the northern spotted owls don’t respect political boundaries. For that reason, the original Northwest Forest Plan was a regional forest management plan. The Plan amended the forest plans for 26 separate forests, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service, across 24 million acres of the American West. As a single, regional, interagency plan, the Northwest Forest Plan allowed for an ecosystem management approach to account for the needs of multiple listed species across three states through a system of wildlife reserves.
The Plan, by and large, has worked. Recent science has reaffirmed the importance of the Northwest Forest Plan as a global model for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation, particularly the reserve network. Forest growth as a result of the Plan has turned the forests of the Pacific Northwest from a significant annual source of CO2 to a carbon sink. The reserve system has mitigated the impact of logging and the invasion of the barred owl on the northern spotted owl. Water quality has significantly improved due to the plan’s emphasis on watershed restoration and system of riparian buffers.
Now 20 years into a 100 year restoration plan, the Northwest Forest Plan is at risk. There is pressure to ditch the single, regional format of the Plan and go back to the old days where each federal agency and each forest was managed differently. This plan to go it alone puts at risk all of the gains made, particularly for the imperiled northern spotted owl which depends on the system of interconnected wildlife reserves.
We urge the Obama Administration to keep the Northwest Forest Plan as a consistent, interagency ecosystem management plan to manage all of the federal public forests of the West. The reserves work; going it alone doesn’t.
NOTE: The first CA listening session will in Redding, CA on Wednesday March 25, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Red Lion Hotel. We hope to see you there! If you are planning on attending, please let Tom know by shooting him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.