451 McCormick Rd
Coraopolis PA 15108
February 22, 2010
For Immediate Release
RGS urges US Forest Service to Equally Consider the Long-Term Impacts of Not Taking an Action, As Well As Short-Term Impacts of the Proposed Action When Evaluating Wildlife Impacts
Coraopolis, PA — Responding to the US Forest Service (USFS) request for input into the development of a new Planning Rule, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is in unison with more than two dozen other conservation and sportsmen’s organizations in its conviction that any course of action must include guidance directing field personnel to compare the short term impacts against the long-term risks and benefits of not taking the proposed action.
For example, a proposed timber harvest may well have some short-term impacts on those species that use mature forests, but deciding not to adopt that proposed action, may well jeopardize those species that require the younger stages of forest development that develop following a harvest. Since the passage of the 1975 Forest Management Act, the bias has been towards mature forests and thus many of the species — both hunted and non-hunted — which require the young or early successional forests are declining.
As well intended as it may be, agency personnel have been making decisions to avoid potentially harmful short-term effects. A common result is that many projects with substantial long-term benefit are abandoned, placing important wildlife habitats and associated wildlife at increased risk in the long-term.
“Historically the USFS has done a good job of predicting what might happen to wildlife if a project is implemented, but it has often failed to predict what might happen if a project does not move forward, which means that the interests of ruffed grouse, woodcock and many species of neo-tropical songbirds and other species generally get short changed. It has been our experience that projects abandoned 10 years ago due to potential short-term risks to some species are adversely impacting grouse and other wildlife today and projects abandoned today will adversely impact grouse and other wildlife 10 years down the road,” said RGS President and CEO Dr. Mike Zagata.
“To protect human lives and property, society no longer allows fire to play its ecological role in the forests of the eastern United States. Therefore, if we are to maintain the species that rely upon young forests for their survival, society must step in and use timber harvest and other forms of active management to provide the forest habitats historically provided by fires. Our failure to do so is already putting many species, both hunted and non-hunted, at risk including the New England Cottontail, about 43 species of neo-tropical songbirds, American woodcock and even the ruffed grouse which is listed as a species “of greatest conservation need” in all the New England states except Maine,” RGS Dr. Zagata continued.
The Ruffed Grouse Society has urged the USFS to provide direction in the new planning rule that will increase the use of comparative ecological risk assessments, a policy that would most certainly ensure that all wildlife and their habitats are given equal consideration as important land management decisions are made.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.
Information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
RGS Director of Conservation Policy