Forest Action Plans Measure Conservation Needs and Results at State Level
One year after finalizing their Forest Action Plans, the members of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) today launched a new website—www.forestactionplans.org—in order to provide access to every state's plan as well as national- and regional-level insight into the primary trends and challenges facing America's forests. The website provides a never-before-seen snapshot of the current state of America's forests on a state-by-state basis.
"Protecting our nation's forests-public and private-delivers benefits people need: clean air and water, jobs and economic development," said NASF president and Colorado State Forester Jeff Jahnke. "One year ago each state developed its unique Forest Action Plan. This website allows us to spot trends, track progress and highlight where more work is needed. It's a powerful tool for conservation planning."
With the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress charged forestry agencies in the states and U.S. territories with developing plans for the forests within their boundaries and to develop strategies for addressing the threats they face. These proactive Forest Action Plans, known technically as Statewide Forest Resource Assessments and Strategies, collectively represent a roadmap for the nation's forests. They guide the work of state agencies and their partners to manage and conserve forests that are critical to public health and well-being, and that are under threat and need protection. The state-specific plans take a look at current forest conditions and trends and identify priority forest areas where there is the greatest need in order to target resources efficiently especially in these tough economic times.
On the one-year anniversary, NASF declared that protecting America's forest land must remain a significant priority for Congress and the public in order to ensure that forests continue to provide environmental, economic, and recreational benefits.
"Investing in the Forest Action Plans is about making smart decisions for America's forests," added Jahnke. "Making sure the states have the resources to implement their plans will pay off for our citizens, the economy, and wildlife. We have an opportunity to be smart about the future of our forests."
Forest Action Plans help address potential forestry problems before they start and offer solutions for current challenges. The plans were crafted using state-based expertise, input from the public and cooperation with other partners and agencies. Common issues across the country include: forest pests and invasive plants; keeping forests forested; wildfire, fuel loads, and urbanization; water quantity and quality; climate change, carbon sequestration, and biomass energy.
"The challenge continues to be doing more with less," said Jay Farrell, NASF's executive director. "As state and federal budgets shrink, it makes sense to rely on Forest Action Plans as the compass for targeting forest conservation dollars where they can have the most impact."
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