Biden proposes rule change to protect old growth and mature forests

By Ron Dungan
Published: Tuesday, May 2, 2023 - 5:30pm

Scientists have known for years that old growth trees can benefit ecosystems and resist wildfire, but the Forest Service does not have regulations in place to protect them.

The Biden administration has proposed a rule change that could address that.

Last year, President Joe Biden ordered public lands agencies to inventory old growth and mature trees.

The study showed that a surprising number of mature trees remain.

But many have been removed, said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity, and drought, logging, bark beetles and climate change threaten the ones still in place.

The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on a proposed rule change to protect them.

"The best way to restore the extent of old growth, is to protect the mature trees. They’re the ones, that if you let them grow, that they will be turning into old growth. So we need a rule," Spivak said.

One benefit of old growth forests is that they can help offset the effects of climate change.