USFS New Regulations Promote Fish Habitat
The proposed planning regulations released this week by the U.S. Forest Service place an emphasis on the sustainability of water resources and fish and wildlife habitat, which can help support healthy fisheries and hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands, said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited.
The proposed regulations are required under the National Forest Management Act of 1976 to direct the development, amendment and revision of management plans for national forests and national grasslands. The rules affect the planning for 193 million acres of federal land, which contains 400,000 miles of streams and 3 million acres of lakes, and supports some of our nation's most vital trout and salmon fisheries.
"National forests form the headwaters of our nation's major river basins, provide habitat for trout and salmon and recreational opportunities for anglers, and provide clean water for communities and irrigators," Wood said. "Trout Unlimited is pleased to see the Forest Service recognize these values in its proposed planning rule."
The proposed rule would require the use of sound science, robust public participation and regular monitoring to gauge progress. Additionally, the rule would approach land management on a landscape level, and require the maintenance and restoration of water resources identified as priorities by stakeholders, with a special focus on riparian areas.
"For decades, planning rules have been marked by litigation and controversy, resulting in unclear direction and guidance for Forest Service managers," Wood said. "Meanwhile, climate change and other stressors have created new challenges on the landscape. We look forward to working with the Forest Service to ensure that the final rule will help to protect, reconnect, and restore the lands and waters that sustain the nation."
A pre-publication version of the proposed rule was released on Feb. 11. On Feb. 14, the proposed planning rule will be released in the Federal Register and a 90-day public comment period will be held.