Environment & Science

Federal forest planning rule won't protect water, wildlife, say critics

Coastal redwood forest Muir Woods, California - March 2008
Coastal redwood forest Muir Woods, California - March 2008
Jared Steine/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Scientists and lawmakers are criticizing a massive rule that federal officials propose to guide plans for the hundreds of national forests around the country. The rule's critics say it won't protect watercourses and streams in the forests - and that the proposal doesn't set clear standards for protecting populations of wildlife on those lands.

Democratic members of Congress from California and western states topped the letter - including congressman Martin Heinrich from New Mexico. "There's always been a requirement for viable populations of wildlife on our national forests and this rule does not include a viable populations safeguard."

The Department of Agriculture has tried to update the 30-year-old forest planning rule before, but lawsuits limited their efforts. A public comment period for this draft rule closes today. Federal forest managers say they expect to adopt a new planning rule by year's end.