White Mountain National Forest Plan Comments Submitted
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charlie Niebling (603) 224-9945<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /??>
December 17, 2004
WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST PLAN COMMENTS SUBMITTED
Forest Society: Study additional Wilderness Areas -- and timber harvests
The state’s oldest, largest conservation organization – founded in 1901 to protect the White Mountains – today submitted its official comments on a proposed management plan for the White Mountain National Forest.
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ comments generally endorse the goals of the U.S. Forest Service’s “preferred alternative,” or Alternative 2, of four options presented to the public last summer. However, the Forest Society also endorses the study of additional new Wilderness Areas and calls for a modest increase in timber harvests, beyond the Forest Service’s preferred plan.
“We believe strongly that the White Mountain National Forest is a national model with respect to the balance of uses, outputs and values that the management of these lands has historically reflected,” said Charlie Niebling, the Forest Society’s senior director for policy and land management. “We believe strongly that the concerns and interests of the people who live and work in the communities surrounding the forest should be held foremost in making decisions on how the lands will be managed.”
In addition to Wilderness Areas supported in Alternative 2, the Forest Society endorses the study of expanded Wilderness designation in the Pemigewasset and Sandwich Range areas – closer to the options in Alternative 3. The Forest Society also supports increasing the maximum annual timber harvest to 32 million board feet per year, phased in over 20 years. Alternative 2 would limit annual timber harvests to 24 million board feet.
In supporting expanded timber harvest limits, the Forest Society is urging the Forest Service to establish new guidelines to ensure that that forest is managed to the highest standards. It also asks that the Forest Service work harder to educate the public about land management on the national forest, including the role of timber harvests and wildlife management.
Finally, the Forest Society asks the Forest Service to increase its efforts to monitor and evaluate its goals. Due to budget constraints, the Forest Service was unable to meet certain monitoring and evaluation goals set out in the last forest management plan, adopted in 1986.
The Forest Society’s full comments are available on its website, at www.forestsociety.org.
Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is a 10,000-member, nonprofit organization that has helped protect more than one million acres.