The current level of active management on federal forestlands fails to address increasing forest health and economic issues. The present policy leaves federal agencies unable to implement management activities outlined in their approved forest and land management plans.
Uncharacteristically large and intense wildfires and insect epidemics are impacting federal forestlands in acreages that far outpace the agencies’ current ability to actively manage forests to improve their resiliency. As a result of the decline in federal forest management, rural communities and counties near federal lands experience an increased risk from wildfire, as well as economic and societal effects from high rates of unemployment.
Significant changes in federal policy for forestland management under the authority of the USDA Forest Service and Department of the Interior are needed to restore the flow of benefits from our federal forests.
Federal forestland provides critical forest products and jobs, clean air, clean water, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat and much more.
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) established permanent authorization for Stewardship Contracting and Good Neighbor Authority.
In some cases, stewardship contracting offers greater efficiency at achieving vegetative management objectives by allowing contractors to offset stumpage costs with other services such as rehabilitating a road.
The Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) of the Farm Bill allows the USDA Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements or contracts to allow state forestry agencies to perform watershed restoration and forest management services such as fuels work, forest thinning or timber sale layout and administration on National Forest System (NFS) lands. By accelerating the pace of on-the-ground management, consistent with approved management plans, can we restore America's federal forests to a more sustainable, resilient condition.
Without a viable forest products sector, ongoing forest management activities to maintain long-term sustainability of social, economic and ecological benefits across forestlands of all ownerships will not be possible.