Forest Planning Rule

A man and two women view a map  while a woman, a Forest Service employee, discuss the management activities for the Florida scrub-jay displayed on the map.

In April 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new planning rule for America’s 193-million acre National Forest System that includes stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities.

This new planning rule provides a framework for future land management plans for 155 national forests and grasslands across the country.
Land management plans under the new rule will include plan components to:

  • Restore and maintain forests and grasslands.
  • Provide habitat for plant and animal diversity and species conservation. The requirements are intended to keep common native species common, contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate species, and protect species of conservation concern.
  • Maintain or restore watersheds, water resources, water quality including clean drinking water, and the ecological integrity of riparian areas.
  • Provide for multiple uses, including outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, wildlife, and fish.
  • Provide opportunities for sustainable recreation and recognize opportunities to connect people with nature.

Plans under the new rule will be developed using:

  • Public involvement and collaboration throughout all stages of the planning process. The final rule provides opportunities for Tribal consultation and coordination with state and local governments and other federal agencies, and includes requirements for outreach to traditionally underrepresented communities.
  • The best available scientific information to inform the planning process and documentation of how science was used in the plan.

A more efficient and adaptive process for land management planning, allowing the Forest Service to respond to changing conditions.

Please visit the Forest Service Planning Rule Revision website for more information.

“This new rule provides the framework we need to restore and manage our forests and watersheds while getting work done on the ground and providing jobs. The collaboration that drove this rulemaking effort exemplifies the America's Great Outdoors initiative to foster conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people.”

~ USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack