USDA names Heidi Huber-Stearns to Northwest Forest Plan Federal Advisory Committee
Heidi Huber-Stearns, the Theodore Roosevelt Associate Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, has been appointed to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture Federal Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations on modernizing landscape management across national forests within the Northwest Forest Plan area in Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
The committee will make recommendations focused on a climate-informed amendment of the Northwest Forest Plan to update management direction so that national forests are managed sustainably, adapted to climate change, and resilient to wildfire, insects, disease, and other disturbances, while meeting the needs of local communities.
“Establishing this committee is another way for us to embrace climate-smart science, ensure we hear from diverse voices and get a range of perspectives on how to best confront the wildfire crisis and climate change,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This committee will also be asked to help reshape ways we engage with communities and deepen our connections with tribes as we go through the Northwest Forest Plan amendment process.”
The committee’s recommendations will incorporate traditional ecological knowledge, the latest science, and climate resilience into its recommendations for the 17 national forests in the Northwest Forest Plan area. The committee will also advise how these planning efforts can complement the Wildfire Crisis Strategy and help the Forest Service take more proactive measures to reduce wildfire risk, restore fire resilience, and enable long-term ecological integrity for people, communities and natural resources.
Establishing this committee is in line with President Biden’s Executive Order 14072 and Secretary’s Vilsack’s Memorandum on Climate Resilience. The national forests in the Northwest Forest Plan area have significant ecologic values, including for water, wildlife, and carbon, and contain important old and mature forests. They are embedded in the people and communities of the area and are important for the social and economic sustainability of those communities. These lands are also culturally significant and the ancestral homelands for tribal nations. According to a recent inventory conducted by federal researchers as required by the Executive Order, the 17 national forests represented in the Northwest Forest Plan contain one quarter of the remaining old-growth forest on national forests and grasslands in the lower 48 states.
The committee represents a diverse group from Tribes, local communities, environmental groups, industry, and academia across Northern California, Oregon and Washington.