The Forest Service will be holding a public roundtable on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle (1400 Sixth Avenue, Seattle WA 98101) from 1:00 - 5:00 pm to provide information and answer questions about the proposed forest planning rule. This is the only public meeting scheduled in WA on this matter. The comment deadline on the draft rule ends May 16.
The federal government's National Forest management rules proposal is being developed under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the law that governs most Forest Service activity. The proposal would replace current NFMA rules originally developed in 1982 and would apply to 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands in 44 states.
In 2005 and again in 2008, the Bush administration tried to rewrite these regulations, lifting the requirement that the Forest Service manage its lands so that all native species can remain viable. Defenders of Wildlife challenged the Bush administration’s proposals in the courts.
Ultimately, the court found that the Forest Service violated the National Environment Policy Act by approving the new regulations based on a faulty environmental impact statement that failed to analyze adequately the environmental impacts of the new regulations, and that it had violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to examine the effects of eliminating wildlife protection standards on protected species.
According to the Sierra Club, citing a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, national forests and grasslands sustain 223,000 jobs in rural areas and contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. National forests are the source of drinking water for about 124 million Americans in 900 U.S. cities.
For more information on the forest planning rule and how it could be strengthened visit http://www.wawild.org/