Key Findings: Priority Issues Across the West
- Forests in America continue to change and evolve. The 2008 Farm Bill set into motion a landmark endeavor for all U.S. states and Pacific Islands to complete assessments of the forests within their boundaries and to develop strategies to address identified threats and opportunities. These Statewide Forest Resource Assessments and Strategies (Forest Action Plans) were submitted to and approved by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), on behalf of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in June 2010. Analysis of the western Forest Action Plans showed that, as diverse as the West is, there are foundational issues held in common across forest types and ownerships. These issues are:
- Forest Health and Invasive Species;
- Wildland Fire and the Wildland-Urban Interface;
- Sustainable Communities and Economies;
- Climate Change, Carbon Sequestration, and Biomass Energy; and
- Water Quality and Quantity.
These issues are interrelated and are driven by many factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: climate change, shifting economic conditions, and changing demographics and social values.
These factors place stress on our ecological, economic, and social systems resulting in the loss of forestland and the benefits these lands provide. This concept and accompanying recommendations are explored in depth in the WFLC report Threats to Western Private Forests: A Framework for Conserving and Enhancing the Benefits from Private Working Forests in the Western U.S..
Successfully addressing these priority issues forms the foundation of strategic activities to be undertaken by the WFLC members in the coming years.