Advocating for wildlife-friendly policy with our conservation partners, we secured a landmark advancement for large landscape conservation—by persuading the United States Forest Service (USFS) to incorporate wildlife corridors and ecological connectivity into its newly minted Forest Planning Rule. Now, as the USFS creates the next generation of land management plans for its 193 million acres, the agency must evaluate and provide protection standards for ecological connectivity and wildlife corridors to ensure the long-term integrity of our public lands.
We consider this a major victory for maintaining large connected natural areas across each of the 171 national forests and grasslands, as well as having the USFS consider its connections to neighboring wild areas. Still, it’s just the beginning, as this new national policy must now be translated into tangible local progress during the development of individual management plans. To that end, we have proposed changes to the USFS Manual and USFS Handbook, "how to" books that guide managers through day-to-day operations and planning. At the same time, we also are participating in local USFS management plan revisions to assist firsthand in the new policy’s implementation.
We’re thrilled to have helped get provisions for connectivity into the new Forest Planning Rule, and we’re committed to assuring the Forest Service converts this new direction into the protection of dozens, if not hundreds, of wildlife corridors across the nation over the next decade.