Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced USDA’s Final Planning Rule for America's 193-million acre National Forest System. The rule includes stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities. Over half of Forest Service units are currently operating with plans that are more than 15 years old.
The final rule includes: mandatory components to restore and maintain forests and grasslands; requirements to provide habitat for plant and animal diversity and species conservation; and requirements intended to keep common native species common, contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate species, and protect species of conservation concern.
In making the announcement, Secretary Vilsack pointed out – the collaboration that drove this rulemaking effort exemplifies America's Great Outdoors initiative to foster conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. The final rule also emphasizes collaboration, sound science and protections for land, water and wildlife.