Governor Gordon Criticizes “Top Down” Approach to Forest Management in Response to Old Growth Management Plan

Governor Mark Gordon is telling the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the Biden Administration’s management plan for old-growth forests is a “misguided, top-down proposal that should go no further.” 

In a comment letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Governor Gordon asked the Forest Service to halt this policy making and said that protection efforts should be evaluated at a forest level, and involve local cooperating agencies. The Forest Service should reconsider moving forward with the proposal, which as written is a top-down approach that fails to meet public participation requirements, including a transparent, collaborative process.

“This proposal seems to indicate the Forest Service has abandoned its policy and the commitments made in the 2012 Planning Rule when it comes to public input, transparency, local knowledge, and the importance of decisions being made by those that are closest to the forest,” the Governor wrote. “This is made clear by the proposal’s exclusion of counties as cooperating agencies and the decision to amend 128 management plans at the same time with the responsible official being as far away from the forests as you can get.”

The proposal is a poor use of time and resources, the Governor wrote. He noted that the Forest Service in Wyoming and nationwide already struggles to revise, implement and monitor existing forest plans. 

“The Forest Service, the public, and old-growth would be better served if the limited staff time and resources were used to address the real threats of wildfire, disease, and insect infestation through active management, plan revisions, implementation, and consistent accurate monitoring,” Governor Gordon added.  

Governor Gordon’s full comment letter may be read here. The Wyoming State Forestry Division, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and Wyoming Department of Agriculture are also submitting comments that are specific to their resource areas and missions.