The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) shifted federal lands management from timber dominance to ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation on nearly 25 million acres within the range of the threatened Northern Spotted Owl. Several assessments have demonstrated that the scientific underpinnings of the plan remain sound and that it has met most of its ecosystem management goals, including:
Federal agencies are considering revising the NWFP in its entirety or via separate plan revisions (e.g., BLM Western Oregon). We recommend that plan revisions treat the NWFP current protections as a “floor” rather than a “ceiling” and that land managers build on the NWFP by:
The plan also needs to be brought into compliance with the ecological integrity and forest carbon management provisions of the 2012 national forest planning rule, President Barack Obama’s November 2013 executive order on climate change, and the White House (CEQ) guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions from land-use (forestry) activities.
With increasing threats from climate change and non-federal logging, ongoing declines of imperiled species, new pressures from invading species, and greatly expanding post-fire logging projects, every acre of mature and old-growth forest on federal lands including when those areas eventually burn or are reset by natural disturbances must be protected in perpetuity for the plan to fully achieve its ecosystem targets and myriad ecosystem benefits provided by intact and recovering ecosystems. In sum, if it was ecologically valuable and protected before a disturbance it is as important (if not more) after a disturbance.
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