WASHINGTON, D.C.—Hunters and anglers support a new rule that allows the U.S. Forest Service to plan for the future based on a number of important factors vital to health of the agency’s 193 million acres of public land and the fish and game populations that depend on healthy habitat for survival.
“Sportsmen understand the intrinsic connection between intact habitat for fish and game, and hunting and angling opportunity,” said Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “This new rule requires the Forest Service to plan for the future by placing an emphasis on the sustainability of water resources and the restoration of fish and game habitat throughout its system.”
The rule essentially gives a management planning roadmap to individual forests around the country. The rule was drafted after a lengthy collaborative and science-based process that considered ample public comment—public forums and meetings took place all over the country over the last year. The new 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.
“While the rule is certainly a step in the right direction,” Kandell said, “there are parts of it that are too vague to ensure positive outcomes for fish and game. We look forward to working with the Forest Service to strengthen the rule.”
The new planning regulations are required under the National Forest Management Act of 1976, which requires the Forest Service to direct the development, amendment and revision of management plans for national forests and national grasslands. In addition to the 193 million acres of land, the regulations impact the management of more than 400,000 miles of rivers and streams and about 3 million acres of lakes.
Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook on Twitter via @TroutUnlimited.