SAF Addresses Climate Resilience in Recent Public Comment

July 25, 2023

Last week, the Society of American Foresters commented on the USDA Forest Service’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) addressing climate resilience on national forests and grasslands. 

The scope of the ANPR was quite broad, as the agency asked: “Given that climate change and related stressors are resulting in increasing impacts with rapid and variable rates of change on national forests and grasslands, how should the Forest Service adapt current policies to protect, conserve, and manage the national forests and grasslands for climate resilience, so that the Agency can provide for ecological integrity and support social and economic sustainability over time?”  

Several existing initiatives relate to the ANPR including: Secretary Vilsack's Memo titled Climate Resilience and Carbon Stewardship of America's National Forests and Grasslands as well as the Forest Service's Wildfire Crisis Strategy, Climate Adaptation Plan, and Reforestation Strategy for the National Forest System. The ANPR also builds on the Forest Service's efforts under Executive Order 14072 to define, identify, and inventory mature and old-growth forests on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, which SAF previously commented on and continues to engage with. 

SAF emphasized two critical points to the Forest Service: (1) forests are a critical solution for addressing climate change and fostering a sustainable future for society; and (2) science-based forest management is an essential tool in promoting climate resilience across the landscape. 

As our forest management objectives expand and shift due to climate change, one of the most challenging aspects of developing new policy is balancing these new objectives with the suite of benefits we have historically derived from forests. Fortunately, the past several decades have proven fruitful for forestry researchers and professionals in creating applied strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation.  

As this comment illustrates, many of the historic services provided by national forests—be it water conservation, water quality, recreation, wildlife habitat, wood products, or local economic stability—are in fact compatible with advances in climate-smart forest management.  

SAF will leverage this comment to share more broadly with policymakers and the public the importance of forests, forest management, and forestry professionals in fostering the future health and sustainability of our nation. We encourage you to share the comment within your networks and use it in your own outreach efforts.  

Read SAF's comment on climate resilience here.

Interested in SAF’s response to the BLM’s proposed rule on Conservation and Landscape Health? SAF provided high-level comments here and fully endorsed the comments submitted by the Public Lands Foundation.