460,000 people ask Forest Service to protect mature forests from logging

Public comments submitted in support of forest conservation proposal
  • Ian Brickey, Sierra Club, ian.brickey@sierraclub.org
  • Ellen Montgomery, Public Lands Campaign Director, emontgomery@environmentamerica.org, 720-583-4024
  • Mark Morgenstein, Media Relations Director, markm@environmentamerica.org, 678-427-1671

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than 460,000 people have submitted public comments to the U.S. Forest Service calling for the agency to adopt a rule that protects mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal land as a cornerstone of U.S. climate policy. Environment America Research & Policy Center and Sierra Club on Thursday delivered some of those public comments to the U.S. Forest Service office in Washington, D.C. Activists holding signs that said "Save America’s Oldest Trees" joined the environmental advocacy groups for the delivery at the Forest Service’s national headquarters. The submissions come at the end of a public comment period about a proposed rulemaking on forest management and climate resilience. The Forest Service specifically asked for feedback on managing mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal lands.

"I’m not surprised that so many people took the time to get involved in this comment period. We love our trees and forests so of course people spoke up," said Ellen Montgomery, public lands campaign director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Our forests clean our water, are home for wildlife and are an incredible ally in our work to stop climate change. Our mature and old-growth forests and trees are worth more standing than as lumber."

Currently, the federal government allows logging of mature and old-growth trees across the country. The Forest Service’s 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule partially protects some U.S. forests from logging but not up to 50 million acres of mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal land. If the government lets timber companies chop them down, it will eliminate one of the most effective tools for removing the atmospheric carbon that exacerbates climate change. In addition, it would eliminate essential habitats for countless species and degrade the land.

“Old growth trees and forests are some of the most effective tools we have to take on the climate crisis. Protecting these forests on federal public lands would absorb and store critical amounts of carbon as well as safeguard vital habitat, ecosystems, and watersheds,” said Anna Medema, Associate Director, Legislative and Administrative Advocacy, Forests and Public Lands for Sierra Club. “Hundreds of thousands of people have made it clear – taking climate action means preserving the old growth we have and letting younger trees mature. We look forward to working with the Forest Service to create the strongest possible rule to protect these treasured forests.”

In November, the Climate Forest Campaign released a report, “America’s Vanishing Climate Forests.” This report spotlighted 12 federally run logging projects that include cutting down mature and old-growth forests, reducing these forests' ability to absorb carbon and releasing  into the atmosphere vast amounts of carbon that trees had safely stored. Together with an earlier report, Worth More Standing, the coalition has highlighted 22 projects that would endanger nearly 370,000 acres of mature and old-growth forests and trees.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.