The Federal Forests Resolution was approved at the 2013 NASF Annual Meeting.
NASF members know that federal forests face forest health problems (insects, disease, wildfire, invasive species) of staggering magnitude. The agencies charged with managing these forests also face serious challenges from cumbersome regulations, declining budgets coupled with high administrative costs and increasing fire suppression expenses, and the departure of employees with institutional knowledge and skills to manage forest lands. The current level of active management on federal forest lands is insufficient to address the scope, scale and pace needed to restore these forests to a more resilient condition.
Uncharacteristically large and intense wildfires and insect epidemics are impacting federal forest lands in acreages that dwarf the agencies’ accomplishments in actively managing forests to improve their resiliency. Compounding the problem, rural forested communities and counties near federal lands are experiencing high unemployment where jobs were historically linked with forest-derived industries and services.
This creates declining incomes and budgets for schools, infrastructure, and other essential government services. Forest management and wood products manufacturing, and the associated workforce skilled in timber harvesting, road maintenance, trucking, and mill operations, are also declining, if not disappearing altogether. Without a viable forest products sector, ongoing forest management activities to maintain long-term sustainability will not be possible. Clearly, there is a need for significant changes in federal policy for management of federal forest lands under the management authority of the USDA Forest Service and Department of the Interior.
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