Today, the U.S. Forest Service released for public and heightened peer review its anticipated science synthesis, which will inform the need to revise the renowned Northwest Forest Plan. The Forest Service is currently taking public comment on the synthesis through January 6, 2017, and credentialed peer reviewers expect to complete their review by mid-February 2017.
“We have learned a great deal about the public lands encompassed by the Northwest Forest Plan in the past 20 years of its application,” said Nick Cady with Cascadia Wildlands. “While new information has surfaced – including, importantly, the impacts of climate change – many values endure, such as the importance of clean water, iconic wildlife such as salmon, and thriving forests to the residents of the Pacific Northwest. These principles remain as sound today as they were when the plan was written.”
The topics addressed in the new science synthesis include old growth forest ecosystems, threatened and endangered terrestrial and aquatic species, climate change, socioeconomic considerations, scientific uncertainty, and restoration strategies, among many others. The Forest Service expects to publish a general technical report that encompasses the science synthesis.
“Healthy forests, lakes, and rivers are the backbone for the Pacific Northwest’s exceptional recreation opportunities and the local economies supported by the recreation industry,” said Katherine Hollis, Director of Conservation and Advocacy at The Mountaineers, “In Washington State alone, outdoor recreation employs 199,000 people and brings over $2 billion in local and state taxes. The NWFP’s science synthesis is a welcomed opportunity to study these socioeconomic benefits.”
In addition to public review and comment on the synthesis, dozens of experts and practitioners will be conducting a peer review process, which will also inform the Forest Service’s revision effort.
“We anticipate the synthesis will engage public interest throughout the region and we look forward to providing thoughtful feedback to the Forest Service as it considers the need to improve the scientifically-sound, ecologically-credible, and legally-defensible Northwest Forest Plan,” said Susan Jane Brown, staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Through this feedback, we hope to help ensure that our treasured Pacific Northwest forests and rivers are managed to best meet the needs of our region.”