SAF Weighs in on Mature and Old-Growth Forest Management

October 19, 2022

On April 22, 2022, the Biden Administration signed Executive Order 14072—also known as “Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies”—which set the stage for a number of forest-centered policy initiatives. Within EO 14072, Section 2(b) specifically calls on the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, within one year, to define, identify, and complete an inventory of old-growth and mature forests on federal lands. The agencies put out a “Request for Information” (RFI) in July meant to inform the public about the 2(b) initiative and to solicit information from the public as to how the agencies should design the program. 

SAF submitted two public comments in response to the RFI that addressed the implications, concerns, and opportunities of the 2(b) initiative. In writing these comments, we drew on input from our members as well as existing policies in our national position statements. SAF also coordinated with the National Association of Forest Service Retirees (NAFSR) and the Public Lands Foundation (PLF) to submit a second public comment addressing other technical concerns of the initiative. You can read SAF’s own public comment here as well as our joint public comment with NAFSR and PLF here.

In both comments, SAF emphasized the importance of active forest management in addressing the challenges facing our all of our forestlands, including mature and old-growth stands. Under compounding threats like climate change, catastrophic wildfire, insects, and disease, our forests require science-based strategies for long-term resilience. We also pressed the agencies to understand that forests must be defined regionally and by forest type; there are no universal set of characteristics that can define mature or old growth across America’s diverse landscapes. We dive into many other important topics implicated by the exercise, so we encourage you to read and share the comments!

SAF Public Comments
Joint Public Comments

In addition to the comments, SAF also sent a letter to the USDA Forest Service, which you can read here