Author Topic: Ecological Restoration Policy  (Read 1913 times)

Offline Peter Vahry

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Ecological Restoration Policy
« on: September 12, 2013, 03:55:16 am »
Ecological Restoration Policy

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of proposed directive; request for comment.


SUMMARY: The Forest Service proposes to issue a permanent Ecological
Restoration Policy in Forest Service Manual (FSM) 2020. The proposed
directive would provide broad direction for restoring National Forest
System lands and associated resources to achieve sustainable management
and ecological integrity. This policy would recognize the adaptive
capacity of ecosystems, the role of natural disturbances, and
uncertainty related to climate and other environmental change. On
September 22, 2008, the Forest Service issued an interim directive, FSM
2020 Ecological Restoration and Resilience. The interim directive was
reissued on March 3, 2010, a third time on August 30, 2011, and a
fourth time on May 13, 2013, and is now proposed as permanent policy.

DATES: Comments must be received in writing by November 12, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments through the World Wide Web/Internet Web site Alternately, submit written comments by
addressing them to Forest Service Restoration Directive, c/o Jim
Alegria, Forest Management Staff, USDA Forest Service, Mailstop 1103,
1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250, or by facsimile to
202-205-1012. Please identify your written comments by including
``Restoration Directive'' on the cover sheet or first page. Electronic
comments are preferred. For comments sent via U.S. Postal Service,
please do not submit duplicate electronic or facsimile comments. Please
confine comments to the proposed directive on the Ecological
Restoration and Resilience Policy.
    All comments, including names and addresses, when provided, are
placed in the record and are available for public inspection and
copying. The public may inspect comments received on the internet at

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Alegria, Forest Management Staff,
USDA Forest Service, Mailstop 1103, 1400 Independence Avenue SW.,
Washington, DC 20250, 202-205-1787. Individuals who use
telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m.
and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.


Background and Need for the Directive

    The need for ecological restoration of many areas in the National
Forest System is widely recognized, and the Forest Service has
conducted restoration-related activities through many resource
management programs for decades. However, an internal agency study
( identified that the concept of ecological restoration has
not been well understood nor consistently implemented within the
agency. The Agency believes that a foundational, comprehensive policy
and definitions would help it to use ecological restoration more
effectively as a tool for achieving land management objectives on
national forests and grasslands.
    The Forest Service proposes to amend its directives by establishing
a new title in the Forest Service Manual, FSM 2020: Ecological
Restoration . The proposed directive would establish broad,
foundational policy for restoration of National Forest System lands and
resources. The intent is to provide a clear, comprehensive, and
science-based restoration policy to guide achievement of sustainable
management and ecological integrity under changing environmental
conditions, such as those driven by a changing climate and increasing
human uses.
    Restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of ecosystems
that have been damaged, degraded, or destroyed. Ecological restoration
re-establishes the composition, structure, and/or ecological processes
that support sustainable aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In order
to identify an ecosystem in need of restoration, current conditions
should be evaluated against: the natural range of variation as a
reference to understand ecosystem function; the dynamic nature of
ecosystems, associated natural and current disturbance regimes; and
likely future environments resulting from climate change and increasing
human uses. Although this proposal is to establish a restoration policy
on National Forest System lands and resources, there may be some
situations where ecosystems have been so degraded that restoration may
not be feasible or economically possible.
    The proposed directive applies to all National Forest System's
resource management programs. For example, this directive would apply
when there is an objective to restore watershed condition and function,
control invasive species, re-create natural stream channel complexity,
improve or reestablish habitat for threatened and endangered species,
and restore natural fire regimes.
    The Forest Service has a multiple-use mission and not all
management activities on national forests and grasslands require a
restoration objective. The Agency will continue to support management
activities such as energy development, recreation use, grazing and
timber production conducted in an ecologically sustainable manner to
avoid the need for ecological restoration in the future. For example,
vegetative treatments in the Wildland Urban Interface that are
necessary to effectively reduce fire risk to communities may require a
silvicultural treatment that would not be viewed as ecological
restoration. Rather, the vegetative treatments would address the
objective of reducing the risk of harm to people, property and forest
resources due to wildfire. Water structures for range management will
continue to be developed to sustain livestock and reduce risk to
riparian systems. The directive would amend the Forest Service Manual
to include a definition for the term restoration, or ecological
restoration. The more generic term restoration has been used widely by
the Forest Service and other agencies beginning with the National Fire
Plan Cohesive Strategy adopted in 2001, and the 10-Year Comprehensive
Strategy and Implementation Plan. The term restoration and associated
concepts such as reforestation, resilience, and adaptation, are
increasingly used by the Congress, media, stakeholders, general public,
scientific community, and leaders, including the Secretary of
Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service, in their public
statements. The directive primarily serves to improve understanding of
the term by Forest Service employees, partners, and the public, by
clarifying the purpose behind it, as well as its scope and context.
This improved understanding will allow the Forest Service to
communicate ecological restoration needs more effectively at the local,
regional, and national levels.

To read the entire notice....
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