WASHINGTON, D.C.—The planning regulations finalized last 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 watersheds and protect fishing opportunities on public lands, said Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at 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 most 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,” Moyer said. “Trout Unlimited is pleased to see the Forest Service recognize these values in its proposed planning rule.”
National forests provide an abundance of fishing opportunities, from the brook trout streams of the Appalachians to great western rivers like the Snake, Missouri, and Colorado; to the high mountain lakes of the Sierras and the coastal salmon and steelhead waters of the Pacific Northwest. National forests also contribute clean, cold water from headwater tributaries to downstream fisheries. An effective planning rule will help groups like Trout Unlimited partner with the Forest Service to protect and enhance aquatic habitat and water resources so that the next generation will have access to healthy populations of trout, salmon and steelhead.
“For decades, planning rules have been marked by litigation and controversy, resulting in unclear direction and guidance for Forest Service managers,” Moyer 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.”
Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with more than 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.