Bioregional assessment of Northwest forests

TitleBioregional assessment of Northwest forests
Publication TypeGovernment Report
AuthorsMoore, R, Casamassa, G
PublisherUSDA Forest Service

The Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest Regions land management of the USDA Forest Service are pleased to introduce the Bioregional Assessment of Northwest Forests. For the last several years, in both formal and informal settings, we heard from many stakeholders that our land management plans and the Northwest Forest Plan amendment, covering western Washington, Oregon, and northern California, need updating. Among other issues, we heard that there is an urgent need to address risk to communities and ecosystems from wildfires, insects and disease, and other stressors. We also heard that we need to better balance and disclose the expected tradeoffs between economic and environmental issues. As land managers, we reviewed monitoring and internal feedback and identified that the 19 land management plans in the Northwest were not fully achieving desired outcomes, partly due to tremendous changes in ecological and socioeconomic conditions in the last two decades. We believe the landscape-scale approach of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan amendment has served us well across many resource topics. However, we recognize that given the geographic diversity of the 24 million acres in focus, updates to national forests and grasslands plan direction can help us address the unique challenges national forest and grasslands face to more fully achieve ecological, economic, and social desired outcomes across the landscape. We recognize forest land management updates initiate a complex planning process that can be time intensive for our stakeholders, partners, local governments and the Forest Service. This is especially true when numerous forests are bound together through amendments such as the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. Given this challenge, we believe this Bioregional Assessment can inform options to efficiently and effectively update plans while maintaining alignment of plan direction where and when applicable to address broad-scale issues. This Bioregional Assessment is not intended to comprehensively address everything that might warrant a change in our land management plans. Instead, we focus on the most compelling issues that need updating and highlight those that are shared across the broad landscape, such as species habitat and wildland fire. We drew upon the best available science and, working collaboratively with our research stations, we designed this assessment to communicate key issues clearly and concisely. Through assessment of the most important information evaluated, we will identify the need to change existing land management plan direction. What we give you in this document is only the beginning of the journey toward updating our land management plans. We will work together to develop the specific solutions that fully address recommendations in this assessment. We are putting in place robust opportunities for your engagement and feedback throughout the planning process. We anticipate a challenging task balancing the ecological and socioeconomic tradeoffs present in such a dynamic landscape. We value your ideas and appreciate your willingness to work with us to discover innovative approaches to achieve this goal.