Forest Service floats draft plan for old-growth forests

By Marc Heller | 06/20/2024 04:22 PM EDT

The agency will take public comment for 90 days on a draft environmental impact statement on conserving old-growth areas of national forests.

Old-growth Douglas fir trees.

Old-growth Douglas fir trees stand along the Salmon River Trail in Mount Hood National Forest outside Zigzag, Oregon. Rick Bowmer/AP

The Biden administration stepped closer Thursday to tighter limits on logging in old-growth areas of national forests, saying it will take public comment on plans to conserve those landscapes.

The Forest Service posted the draft environmental impact statement for the old-growth proposal ahead of Friday’s publication in the Federal Register. The plan includes a nationwide amendment to forest plans throughout the 193-million-acre system. The draft will be open to public comment for 90 days.

“Recent scientific analysis shows us that many old-growth forests are under significant threat from climate change,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “The Forest Service’s plan will help safeguard these iconic stands of trees through science-based management and conservation strategies that can be adapted to unique local circumstances on national forests.”


The draft adheres broadly to earlier signals from the administration that national forests should more closely consider the impact on old-growth forests from a wide range of projects, including thinning to reduce wildfire risk, prescribed fire and timber harvesting.