WASHINGTON, JULY 31, 2014 AT 2:15 PM EDT - The U.S. Forest Service today announced and is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would provide forest products to federally-recognized Indian Tribes.
“The Forest Service works diligently to respect our government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “American Indians and Alaska Natives have been connected to these lands for thousands of years, and we want to facilitate continued access to these resources.”
Many forest products are used by Indian tribes in the practice of their cultural and religious beliefs and heritage. For example, ginseng and Devil's club are used by some Tribes for medicinal purposes. The proposal would clarify the process Indian tribes must use to request trees, portions of trees or forest products for noncommercial traditional and cultural purposes.
This rule would implement section 8105 of the 2008 Farm Bill, which gives the Secretary of Agriculture discretionary authority to provide, free of charge, any trees, portions of trees, or forest products from National Forest System lands to federally recognized Indian tribes for noncommercial traditional and cultural purposes. The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on July 31, 2014, with a 60-day public comment period.
Written comments concerning the Federal Register notice should be addressed to: Director, Forest Management Staff, USDA Forest Service, Mail Stop 1103, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C. 20250 or by email to FarmBillForestProductsRule@fs.fed.us. Comments may also be submitted on-line at www.regulations.gov.
The mission of the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the Nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.