[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 135 (Friday, July 15, 2022)]
[Pages 42493-42494]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-15185]



Forest Service


Bureau of Land Management

Request for Information (RFI) on Federal Old-growth and Mature 

AGENCY: Forest Service, Agriculture (USDA); Bureau of Land Management, 
Interior (DOI).

ACTION: Request for information.


SUMMARY: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United 
States Forest Service (Forest Service), and the United States 
Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 
invite public comment to inform the response to Executive Order 
Strengthening the Nation's Forests, Communities, and Local Economies 
which requires USDA and DOI to define old-growth and mature forests on 
Federal lands; complete an inventory and make it publicly available; 
coordinate conservation and wildfire risk reduction activities; 
identify threats to mature and old-growth forests; develop policies to 
address threats; develop Agency-specific reforestation goals by 2030; 
develop climate-informed reforestation plans; and develop 
recommendations for community-led local and regional economic 
development opportunities.

DATES: A webinar will be held for interested members of the public on 
July 21, 2022. More information about this session (including specific 
time and how to attend) will be posted to the Forest Service website 
(https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/old-growth-forests). Comments 
must be received in writing by August 15, 2022.

ADDRESSES: The webinar will be held on Microsoft Teams web conferencing 
software. The webinar will be recorded. Information about how to attend 
the webinar, presentation materials used during the webinar, and the 
webinar recording will be posted to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/old-growth-forests. Written comments concerning this notice may be 
submitted electronically to: https://cara.fs2c.usda.gov/Public/CommentInput?project=NP-3239.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jamie Barbour, Assistant Director, 
Ecosystem Management Coordination, (503) 708-9138, 
[email protected]. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for 
the deaf and hard of hearing (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service 
(FRS) at 1-800-877-8339, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, 
including holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of this RFI is to inform the 
public and gather feedback on potential future implementation efforts 
associated with provisions of Executive Order (E.O.) 14072: 
Strengthening the Nation's Forests, Communities, and Local Economies, 
issued April 22, 2022. The focus of this current request for 
information is to inform the response to E.O. 14072 Section 2(b) 
specifically, which calls on the Secretaries of Agriculture and the 
Interior, within one year, to define, identify, and complete an 
inventory of old-growth and mature forests on Federal lands, accounting 
for regional and ecological variations, as appropriate, and making the 
inventory publicly available.
    Background. E.O. 14072 Section 2(b) states that: ``The Secretary of 
the Interior, with respect to public lands managed by the Bureau of 
Land Management, and the Secretary of Agriculture, with respect to 
National Forest System lands, shall, within one year of the date of 
this order, define, identify, and complete an inventory of old-growth 
and mature forests on Federal lands, accounting for regional and 
ecological variations, as appropriate, and shall make such inventory 
publicly available.''
    USDA and DOI recognize definition development as a pivotal first 
step in meeting the subsequent identification and inventory 
requirements of E.O. 14072. Development of the definition, followed by 
identification and inventory will then be used to inform subsequent 
needs identified in E.O. 14072 Section 2(c) (e.g., conservation and 
wildfire risk reduction activities, including consideration of climate-
smart stewardship of mature and old-growth forests; analysis of the 
threats to mature and old-growth forests on Federal lands, including 
from wildfires and climate change; and development of policies to 
institutionalize climate-smart management and conservation strategies 
that address threats to mature and old-growth forests on Federal land).
    This effort is also directly connected to the Secretary's 
Memorandum 1077-004: Climate Resilience and Carbon Stewardship of 
America's National Forests and Grasslands (issued June 23, 2022, by the 
Secretary of Agriculture, https://www.usda.gov/directives/sm-1077-004). 
The Secretary's Memorandum 1077-004 specifically references E.O. 14072 
implementation and other actions.
    Defining old growth and mature forests for purposes of conducting 
an inventory as required under E.O. 14072 Section 2(b) does not, by 
itself, change any current forest management policies or practices. 
Developing policies to institutionalize climate-smart management and 
conservation strategies that address threats to mature and old-growth 
forests on Federal land as stated in E.O. 14072 Section 2(c) will 
follow completion of definition development, identification, and 
    Defining old-growth and mature forests has evolved with our 
scientific understanding of these unique ecosystems. Previous 
definitions include a general old-growth one included in a 1989, Forest 
Service Chief's letter to Regional Foresters which reads: ``Old-growth 
forests are ecosystems distinguished by old trees and related 
structural attributes. Old-growth encompasses the later stages of stand 
development that typically differ from earlier stages in a variety of 
characteristics, which may include tree size, accumulations of large 
dead woody material, number of canopy layers, species composition, and 
ecosystem function.'' Today, most scientists agree that old-growth 
forests differ widely in character with age, geographic location, 
climate, site productivity, and characteristic disturbance regime. 
Mature and old-growth forests also reflect diverse spiritual and 
cultural values for these special places.
    Gathering and synthesizing old-growth forest information at a 
national scale continues to progress. Data sources exist, including the 
Forest Service Inventory and Analysis Program. Yet,

[[Page 42494]]

several factors, including variations in ecological definitions of old 
forests in response to the diversity of forest types across the nation, 
climate change impacts, and the dynamic nature of forest conditions, 
are challenging to integrate. Considering the important values provided 
by old forest conditions, leveraging the Forest Service Forest 
Inventory and Analysis Program with existing and evolved definitions of 
old-growth will provide an improved picture for land managers to guide 
sound, science-informed, decision-making.
    Input Requested. The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land 
Management, DOI, are seeking input on the development of a definition 
for old-growth and mature forests on Federal land, and are specifically 
requesting input on the following questions:
     What criteria are needed for a universal definition 
framework that motivates mature and old-growth forest conservation and 
can be used for planning and adaptive management?
     What are the overarching old-growth and mature forest 
characteristics that belong in a definition framework?
     How can a definition reflect changes based on disturbance 
and variation in forest type/composition, climate, site productivity 
and geographic region?
     How can a definition be durable but also accommodate and 
reflect changes in climate and forest composition?
     What, if any, forest characteristics should a definition 
    Additional information about this effort, including a link to the 
recorded webinar, can be found at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/old-growth-forests.

Christopher French,
Deputy Chief, National Forest System, Forest Service.
Tracy Stone-Manning,
Director, Bureau of Land Management.
[FR Doc. 2022-15185 Filed 7-14-22; 8:45 am]