Wildlands Director, Grace Brahler and her pup Silas, measuring a large mature tree in the proposed 42 Divide timber sale (photo by Cascadia Wildlands' WildCAT Volunteer).

Press Release: Federal Agencies Release Joint Report on Mature and Old-Growth Forests

April 20, 2023

Grace Brahler, Cascadia Wildlands, grace@cascwild.org, 541-393-8178
Madeline Cowen, Cascadia Wildlands, madeline@cascwild.org, 206-653-4959

Feds Solicit Public Input for Climate Resilience Rulemaking

On April 20, 2023, the two federal agencies charged with overseeing federally-managed public forests in the US released a much-anticipated report defining, identifying, and producing an initial inventory of mature and old-growth forests. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) inventory, which will continue to expand, identified more than 32 million acres of old-growth and around 80 million acres of mature forest across 200 types of forests. The inventory was ordered by President Biden in his 2022 Earth Day Executive Order, which marked the first time the federal government clearly acknowledged the many ecosystem services and climate benefits of our country’s last remaining mature and old-growth forests. The initial inventory found that old-growth forest represents 18% and mature forest another 45% of all forested lands managed by the Forest Service and BLM. In addition, the Forest Service announced a proposed rulemaking process. The agency is asking for public input on how to adapt current policies to protect, conserve, and manage national forests and grasslands for climate resilience.

“We are pleased to see the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management meet the ambitious deadline set last Earth Day to define and inventory the remaining mature and old-growth forests on federally-managed public lands,” said Grace Brahler, wildlands director with Cascadia Wildlands. “However, the glaring shortcoming remains that mature and old-growth forests are not protected from logging while this process unfolds. As we move into this next phase, we continue to call for durable legal protections for these forests for their myriad benefits, including as profoundly effective carbon sinks.”

“As we get ready to celebrate yet another Earth Day characterized by compounding biodiversity and climate crises, we ask federal agencies to permanently protect mature and old-growth forests as one of our most powerful natural climate solutions,” said Madeline Cowen, grassroots organizer with Cascadia Wildlands. “Older forests filter our drinking water, remove climate pollution from the air we breathe, and increase our resilience to uncharacteristically severe wildfires. These forests are worth far more standing.”

Cascadia Wildlands invites the public to join us and our partner organizations for an Earth Day Rally for Forests and Climate on Saturday, April 22nd, in Eugene, Oregon, calling for lasting protections for public mature and old-growth forests from logging.