Defenders of Wildife Positive on Planning Rule- Nevada News Service

Conflicts in Nevada Forests?
Mike Clifford
Nevada News Service

LAS VEGAS – Endangered animals, outdoor recreation and mining could peacefully coexist in Nevada’s national forests under new management guidelines proposed by the Obama administration.

The first “forest planning rule” update in 30 years will require use of the best available science and hopefully resolve long-standing conflicts such as those between industry and environmentalists, according to Jeanne Higgins, supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the largest in the lower 48 states.

“Specifically mining and grazing, recreational uses, how we provide habitat for wildlife and how we make sure that we’re providing clean water.”

The new planning rule eventually will apply to 155 national forests and grasslands in 42 states and Puerto Rico. The guidelines are expected to be finalized in about a month.

Peter Nelson, director of Defenders of Wildlife’s federal lands program, says the new planning rule will allow forest managers to focus on the recovery of damaged watersheds and endangered plant and animal species, while also providing for multiple uses which include recreation and logging. He’s optimistic the approach will work.

“The concept of restoration-based forestry is very appealing because it is able to provide multiple values at the same time, including the creation of wildlife habitat with traditional or innovative logging practices. So, that’s something that is doable.”

More than 300,000 public comments were received since the draft rule was released last year. Nelson says it’s a reflection of how Americans view the national forests.

“The national forest system, at almost 200 million acres, is really one of America’s most prized assets. And because it offers so much value to so many people on so many levels, that’s why people are interested in getting involved and fighting for these places. It’s a healthy thing.”

The Forest Service says the new guidelines will give individual forest managers more flexibility to respond to changing conditions, and should speed up the process of developing new forest-management plans.

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