Ag Secretary Sends Forest Service in New Direction

New approach to managing forests focused on restoration.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has outlined his vision for the future of the nation's forests. In his first major speech regarding the Forest Service on Friday, Vilsack said the nation's forestlands are in critical need of restoration and conservation.

 

"By using a collaborative management approach, with a heavy focus on restoring these natural resources, we can make our forests more resilient to climate change, protect water resources, and improve forest health while creating jobs and opportunities," Vilsack said.

 

Vilsack was quick to point out that declining forest health and the effects of changing climate have resulted in an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks. He said it is time for a change in the way America's forestlands are viewed and managed, with an eye towards the future.

 

"This will require a new approach that engages the American people and stakeholders in conserving and restoring both our National Forests and our privately-owned forests," Vilsack said. "It is essential that we reconnect Americans across the nation with the natural resources and landscapes that sustain us."

 

According to Vilsack, the new approach to managing our forests aims to secure the nation's water supply. Watersheds with a large proportion of forest cover are more likely to be associated with good water quality, with forests protecting soil, moderating stream flow, supporting healthy aquatic systems, and sustaining good water quality.

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