Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Conservation | Posted on 02-09-2014
Forests in our world and in the United States are important. They are responsible for providing homes and jobs to people, absorbing and storing carbon, providing wood for furniture or firewood, serving as habitat to mammals, birds, and insects, preventing flooding, regulating regional climates, conserving soil and water, and for providing a refuge for tourism, recreation, and educational activities. Because forests are responsible for so many things, it’s no wonder that state and federal governments work hard to protect them. The National Forest Management Act of 1976 sets in place some standards for forests in the United States. Here’s a rundown on what laws exist to help protect forest trees:
Sec. 4 section 3 of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974, stated that the federal government is responsible for the reforestation of already existing forests. This means forests shall be “maintained in appropriate forest cover with species of trees, degree of stocking rate, the of growth, and conditions of stand designed to secure the maximum benefits of multiple use…” The act also stipulates that Congress must allocate $200,000,000 annually for the purpose of reforesting and treating lands.
Renewable Resource Program
The 1976 act also established laws that provide an opportunity for forest and rangeland owners to participate in educational programs. The point of these programs is to improve and enhance the condition of the land and to disseminate knowledge about the renewable resources the land possesses. The education provided also seeks to impress upon landowners the need to improve air, water, and soil quality within forests.
Harvesting and Roads
If trees are harvested from a forest, there is a subsection of the 1976 act that requires that the land be re-forested within five years after the harvest. It is also a requirement stated within the same provision that clear-cutting must occur in the most effective method and that “cut blocks, patches, or strips are and blended to the extent practical with the natural terrain.” These cuts must also be consistent with the protection of other wildlife, fish, soil, and water.
Any road construction that occurs on forestland must also be consistent with this law. If any roads are constructed on national forest land, they must be designed to accommodate standards that are appropriate for the intended uses and impacts on land and its resources.
Limitations on Timber Removal
The law explicitly states that the Secretary of Agriculture cannot set forth a timber sale limit that exceeds the sustainability-yield ratio of a particular forest region. In other words, if reforestation cannot occur quickly enough in a forest where lumber is being taken for sale, then the Secretary of Agriculture must put a hold on that area until the forest can be replenished. However, if forests are damaged by fire, disease, wind throw, or other natural catastrophes, this subsection does not apply.
Controlling Dutch Elm Disease
Dutch elm disease endangers many forest trees. As a result, the Forestry Act allocates money for the study of Dutch elm disease, researching possibilities to control it and providing a plan of action to spread knowledge about its effects.
In addition to these laws set forth, many states also have their own laws regarding forest trees, such as the age and type that can legally be cut. If you’re wondering what you can and cannot do in a forest, look up your state’s Department of Agriculture or Forestry for more information.
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