The time to act is now
With reports of over 100 million dead trees, California’s wild and urban forests have made for pretty grim news in recent years. Forested lands cover a third of California, and ownership mixed among federal, state, and private entities creates a complex picture for management and conservation. Drought, habitat loss, and pests all pose serious threats to healthy forest ecosystems. Historic management practices, including a century of fire suppression, have created dangerous levels of fuel buildup and lowered resiliency. However, we now have the opportunity to recalibrate California’s approach to forest management and secure additional protections for rare plant species. With uncertainties from climate change compounding other threats, we are acting now to protect our forests.
A once-a-decade moment for forestry
Every 10-15 years, the federal government revises existing forest management plans. These plans serve as instruction manuals on how human activities are managed while protecting a forest’s natural and cultural resources. Existing plans have lacked specificity and left those responsible for the forests without the needed baselines and thresholds to adequately manage resources. Now, we have a chance to address this problem.
The Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests have been the first to enter the draft stages of this review process. In response, CNPS has joined a coalition of environmental organizations to review, comment on, and help shape draft versions of the plans. In particular, CNPS is working to make sure the new Species of Conservation Concern plant lists are as inclusive and comprehensive as necessary. We’re also focused on ensuring that new plan components provide forest managers the directions they need to protect resources while permitting allowable activities.
Last year, the coalition submitted a joint letter with detailed comments on draft plans for the first three forests. In response, the Forest Service has been amending portions of the Sequoia and Sierra plans but is moving to finalize what CNPS and its partners believe to be a flawed, ambiguous Inyo Plan. (See recent letters from the coalition in May, August 11 and August 25, 2017). The final Inyo Plan is set for public release in early August 2018.
CNPS and its partners are continuing to meet with regional forest planners and local CNPS chapter experts in preparation for the next wave of plans addressing the Stanislaus, El Dorado, Tahoe, and Plumas National Forests.
Protecting rare forest species
In sync with the forest management plan revisions, CNPS is working with Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service to identify approximately 500 rare vascular plants, bryophytes, and lichens that occur in one or more of the northern California forests. CNPS is compiling detailed species profiles for those that meet the Forest Service’s criteria to be considered for Species of Conservation Concern plant lists.
US Forest Service page for updated forest service plans and preview drafts.
CNPS supports the Sierra Nevada Conservation Strategy.