Our Work: Providing Public Comment to the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests
Sierra and Sequoia National Forest revised plans promote forest resilience and climate adaptation in the Southern Sierra.
American Forests recently submitted comments to the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests as part of the public comment period for the joint draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and respective draft forest management plans.
Forest Management Plans are an important foundation that supports project-specific planning and implementation by providing landscape-level methods. Although the plan was originally drafted in 2016, today’s large-scale tree mortality emergency drove the need to revise the original draft EIS and management plans.
The planning team has used these plans as an opportunity to build on climate adaptation, forest resilience, partnerships and collaboration, as well as increasing the overall pace and scale of restoration.
Our nation’s forests are on the front lines, and the state of California is facing a forest health crisis due to drought, climate change, and catastrophic wildfire.
These plans strike an important and necessary balance of trade-offs between socioeconomic benefit and conservation of biophysical sustainability. Increasingly forests are being managed for not just structural complexity but as complex adaptive systems, of which humans are a necessary part. Long-term monitoring is one of our best opportunities to promote the resilience of forest landscapes and to inform future silvicultural practices.
Here are a few key takeaways from the letter American Forests provided:
- The draft plans support the inclusion of climate change adaptation strategies in long term forest management planning.
- Reducing the carbon losses from forests due to catastrophic wildfire is essential to California’s long-term climate goals set by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region in the CA Forest Carbon Plan.
- These plans will also increase the use of prescribed and managed fire as a treatment tool to increase large landscape vegetation management and is a common tool in eastern forests.
- Although prescribed fire has significant impacts to air quality and GHG emissions, fuel treatments can avoid the much higher costs associated with a catastrophic wildfire.
- Studies have also shown that prescribed fire has three times less harmful particulates than wildfire, resulting in an overall lower air quality impact.
- The proposed plan would also increase the total acres of fuel reduction, reforestation, and restoration on the landscape.
Reforestation is a major carbon sequestration opportunity. Recent studies have shown that global reforestation could reduce the atmospheric carbon pool by 25%.
In summary, American Forests supports efforts to increase the pace and scale of treatments like reforestation and prescribed fire that balance public health with forest ecosystem health and with socioeconomic benefits. Since 1990 alone, we have planted over 60 million trees in forest restoration projects in all 50 U.S. states. American Forests is also a noted leader in climate policy and science, including leadership of the Forest-Climate Working Group and serving as an Impact Partner to the U.S. Climate Alliance. The proposed plan is a good way to react to a changing climate through stewardship and achieve long-term resilience.
If you would like to provide comments on the Sierra and Sequoia EIS or the draft management plans, visit the Forest Plan Revision Homepage for more information. Comments are due by September 26, 2019.