Defenders in Action: National Forests and Other Public Lands
The U.S. Forest Service manages the National Forest System, comprising 193 million acres spread across 175 national forests and grasslands across the country. These lands sustain diverse ecosystems and support an incredible array of iconic animals such as grizzly bear, wolf, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, and wolverine.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers more than 245 million acres in 12 western states. The magnificent landscapes are home to species like sage grouse, pronghorn, and desert tortoise.
Unlike National Wildlife Refuges, which are primarily managed for wildlife conservation, national forests and BLM lands are managed for multiple uses that serve the American public, including industry (timber, oil and gas, mining), grazing livestock and recreation, in addition to protecting wildlife.
Our public lands provide wildlife with safe havens from rapid development on private lands, but even on our national forests and BLM lands wildlife face threats from poorly planned logging and energy production, as well the risks associated with a changing climate. The loss of fish and wildlife populations on public lands ripples through the ecosystem, and represents risk to clean water, recreational opportunities and other important benefits provided by these public lands
What Defenders Is Doing to Help Protect Public Lands
Defenders of Wildlife’s top priorities include: keeping roadless areas roadless, protecting old growth and other special types of habitats, restoration of habitats that have been lost or degraded over time, and maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems, including healthy, sustainable wildlife populations.
Defenders’ experts work closely with legislators and policy makers to help ensure our public lands will remain healthy for wildlife and people. For example, we provided extensive comments and input on sweeping new forest management directives—known as the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) forest planning rule—enacted by the Obama administration in March 2012.
Defenders also mobilizes our supporters to take action—our NFMA campaign resulted in more than 100,000 messages being sent to the Obama administration. When necessary, we also use the courts to fight to protect our public lands.
Finally, Defenders participates in a number of proactive programs, such as the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, an initiative of the Forest Service that works to restore forests through collaborative that bring together stakeholders and the Forest Service.