Tom Partin, president of the timber industry group American Forest Resource Council, released a statement following Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of new federal forest planning rules.
Not surprisingly, he compliments the same planning changes that environmental groups criticized, including the focus on rural economies, logging to improve forest ecosystem health, and replacing the appeal process with a pre-decisional objection process (this must be where the feds try to avoid going to court).
However, Partin does take issue with the administration’s plan to focus more attention on using the “best available science” to protect species diversity:
“We are pleased with the improvements over prior Planning Rules contained in the Draft Rule released today. The increased emphasis on socio- and economic elements in the planning process is an important recognition of the role of Forest Service lands play in the lives of the American people, especially those who live in rural communities. Without a viable milling and logging infrastructure, our National Forests cannot be restored to sustainable ecosystem health within current federal budget constraints. Use of the pre-decisional objection process will lead to better plans and a more streamlined process for their adoption without sacrificing the appropriate review and input from the public. Of course, we see some need for improvement and clarification, particularly in the treatment of species diversity. The cumbersome process required by this proposed rule, for example, documentation of consideration of “best available science,” is contrary to the pledge of this Administration to simplify and streamline governmental regulations. We look forward to providing the agency with our comments and suggestions for revisions prior to issuance of the Final Rule.”