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RELEASE: US Forest Service Old-Growth Amendment Fails to Protect and Expand Mature and Old-Growth Forests in the Eastern US

Letter to USFS Chief Moore from 34 organizations calls on the Forest Service to correct course and honor President Biden’s Executive Order 14072


A photo of a mature forest in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest
Mature forest proposed for logging in the Green Mountain National Forest Telephone Gap logging project. Photo: Zack Porter.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Sonia Demiray, Climate Communications Coalition: 202-744-2948, soniademiray@climatecc.org

Will Harlan, Center for Biological Diversity: 828-230-6818, wharlan@biologicaldiversity.org 

Zack Porter, Standing Trees: 805-552-0160, zporter@standingtrees.org

Lea Sloan, Old-Growth Forest Network: 202-330-3253, leasloan999@gmail.com 

 

WASHINGTON, DC - July 9, 2024 -- Today, 34 organizations across the Eastern U.S. issued a letter to the United States Forest Service (USFS) stating that its new proposal for old-growth management “maintains the status quo and fails to recognize the differences and needs of eastern forests.”  


The letter calls for bold leadership and a science-based approach that protects mature forests to help recover and expand old-growth ecosystems - critical for biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and resilience to floods and droughts. The organizations request a meeting with Chief Randy Moore to address problems identified in the recently issued National Old-Growth Amendment (NOGA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). 


Recognizing the importance of mature and old-growth forests for their “capacity to retain and enhance carbon storage; conserve biodiversity; mitigate the risk of wildfires; enhance climate resilience; enable subsistence and cultural uses; provide outdoor recreational opportunities; and promote sustainable local economic development,” President Biden issued Executive Order 14072 in April of 2022, spurring the current amendments. Yet, today’s coalition letter highlights that the Forest Service’s planned amendment would facilitate logging in both mature and old-growth forests, disregarding President Biden’s Executive Order and the opportunity in Eastern National Forests to recover mature and old-growth ecosystems.


The USFS scheduled a series of field meetings across the country for July 10 to communicate with the public about the amendment, but only one meeting east of the Mississippi is planned, further highlighting the Forest Service’s lack of recognition of the unique qualities and needs of eastern forests and disregard for eastern states residents’ interests.


“We call on Chief Moore to honor the unique and irreplaceable role of today’s mature forests as the building blocks of future old-growth that our children and grandchildren might inherit,” said Zack Porter, Executive Director of the New England-focused public forest protection organization, Standing Trees.


“Without course-correction, the Forest Service could compromise forests that meet increasingly vital current and future climate, biodiversity, food security, and public and environmental health needs” said Sonia Demiray with the Climate Communications Coalition.     

                

"Nearly all of the old-growth forests in the East are gone, and now the Forest Service wants to cut what’s left,” said Will Harlan, Southeast Director and Senior Scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need a rule that actually protects old-growth. This draft rule would allow even more of our old-growth forests to be logged when we should be protecting the few old-growth forests that remain.”


"The Midwest and the West diverge widely in terms of their climates, histories, and remaining forests. We need the Forest Service to recognize and account for those differences in their actions and policies,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. 


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