Western Landscapes Conservation Series Forest conservation and sustainability issuesdownload landscape policy recommendations in PDF format
Policies for a sustainable West

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Recommendation 1: Redefine forest management priorities

Problem

Our national forests are essentially managed in reaction to perceived threats, rather than to actively promote identified public objectives. Fire suppression and the need to accommodate increasing demands for motorized recreation drive current forest management policies. This approach, implemented by the USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, results in little progress on fundamental stewardship issues, including established goals of ecological restoration, biodiversity conservation, sustainable timber harvests, or the implementation of adaptive management. Global climate change will further compound the challenges of forest management, requiring a fundamental reformulation of federal forest management policy.

Goal

To establish a new, guiding mission for forest management based on a vision of forests as complex systems that comprise not only land and trees, but also human and natural communities that supply water along with other invaluable ecosystem services.

Recommendation

Convene a public lands commission, modeled after the one created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, charged with the task of reformulating forest management priorities and moving from multiple to integrated use. This commission should reestablish management priorities based on economic, social, and ecological sustainability — expanding on and superseding principles of sustained yield.