News Release

US Forest Service report spotlights at-risk species on private lands

Report provides tools for forest management

Washington
January 6, 2011 -

The U.S. Forest Service recently published Threats to At-Risk Species in America’s Private Forests,a report emphasizing how increased housing density near and on private forests is threatening habitat for plants and animals already at risk of decline or extinction.

The report, the third in a series titled “Forests on the Edge”, details how several species of at-risk wildlife that utilize private forests include:

  • The Chesapeake Bay’s Delmarva Fox Squirrel, one of the largest squirrels in the Western Hemisphere
  • The diminutive Key Deer, found only in the Florida Keys
  • The Sonoma and Santa Barbara populations of the colorful California Tiger Salamander

“Over half of America’s forests are privately owned and are under pressure from housing development, pests, diseases and fire,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Future development is likely to result in a decrease of private forest habitat for many at-risk species. This report will be a valuable tool for conservationists to assist in planning future developments and identifying at-risk species.”

The report is part of the Forests on the Edge series. Findings include:

  • Watersheds with the greatest number of at-risk species associated with private forests are located in the Eastern U.S. and coastal California.
  • Watersheds, where increased housing density is likely to contribute to the decline of forest dependent at-risk species, are located primarily in the Eastern U.S. but also in parts of the West and Southwest.
  • Conservation actions can reduce impacts on wildlife and plant species already at risk while supporting compatible development of housing. A few examples include:
  • Wildlife tunnels under highways allowing safe passage
  • Increased awareness about negative impacts of free-ranging pets
  • Explore clustered housing developments that incorporate environmental considerations and maintain open space

The report also presents and discusses maps that identify watersheds across the United States where at-risk species habitat is most threatened. The Forest Service is providing this information as a tool that can be used by local and state agencies as well as by organizations for planning purposes. To obtain maps or a copy of Threats to At-Risk Species in America’s Private Forests go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/projects/fote/