Are Trump’s climate censors at the door of forest planning?

In conjunction with publishing its notice of intent to prepare an EIS and draft forest plan, the Gila National Forest revealed a bit of the thinking going on on at least one national forest about whether they should continue to address climate change in the forest planning process.

Throughout the assessment process, the Forest team took a close look at the significant effects of climate change on the Gila. According to Schulz, directives from U.S. President Donald Trump to other agencies to release no evidence of climate change they find have not been represented in the assessment report.

“The documents still do talk about climate change,” he said. “You will see that. We will just see how this all works moving forward. There are a lot of aspects we will still be talking about using some aspects of terminology, like ‘drought.’ There is clearly strong local interest in managing the effects of climate change.”

So maybe they would address climate change without saying the words?  At least they’re moving forward, for now.  It’s actually hard to imagine major backsliding in forest planning since the planning rule requires the use of the best available scientific information, and I think the Forest Service has been a leader in trying to apply climate change science.  The point about local interest is important, too.  If nothing else, if someone brings it up, the agency can’t arbitrarily dismiss it.

5 thoughts on “Are Trump’s climate censors at the door of forest planning?”

  1. Thanks for linking to this, Jon! This is very odd as in my following this I have never heard of Trump’s direction for “agencies to release no evidence of climate change” they find. I wonder where that came from?

    For example, at Zinke’s confirmation hearing ,” but Zinke stopped short of full-throated acceptance of climate science. He agreed that the climate was changing, and that humans have had an influence, but he said “there’s debate” over the extend of that influence.

    When pressed on whether he’d allow fossil fuel development on public lands, Zinke said, “we have to have an economy.” ”

    If I had to project a Zinke- like view into the future (and I don’t know about Perdue- except the Huff Post says he’s a climate denier- heck if the Huff Post knew me they would say I am a climate denier 😉 )- I would say you would still look at potential warming effects on forests, but the differences in administrations might be the desired combo of fossil and other fuels and the rate of transition to lower carbon fuels (aka energy policy.) This is kind of what is quoted here “There is clearly strong local interest in managing the effects of climate change.”

  2. Does anyone have a copy of the “directives” that have been sent to other agencies to “release no evidence of climate change”?
    I think that there are plenty of ways to deal with this and not use the “climate change” buzzwords – those words are pretty meaningless because “climate change” means different things in different places. And what is really important here is that our current planning assumes a very narrow range of climate and weather – even without “climate change” it is too narrow and based on a period of time when the climate was fairly stable. Our revised plans need to consider management and provision of ecosystem services under a much wider range of climate and disturbances – fire, insects/disease, drought, etc.

    • MofT- before I left the agency five years ago, planners were discussing using scenario planning specifically for that and other reasons. As I recall the water providers (people like Denver Water) did a super job on that, and the Parkies were also exploring it, although their approach was overly sciency (IMHO) as I recall…

      • You will be comforted that scenario planning is also trying to get off the ground within the FS. It’s a slow launch.

  3. Some people blame climate change for many of our forest problems but, seem to be against most effective mitigation measures. They prefer to wait and see what grows back, under the new climate regime. So much for forest resilience, eh?


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