Protect Our Climate Forests

What's At Stake

Mature and old-growth forests are also known as “climate forests” because they remove and absorb large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. This makes them a natural climate solution that simultaneously provides vital refuges for many at-risk species and vulnerable wildlife.

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a policy that could reduce the logging and destruction of old-growth trees in national forests, but it needs to be dramatically strengthened before it is finalized. The Forest Service also needs to issue strong protections for mature trees, which are our future old-growth forests and exist in much greater numbers than old-growth.

Together, we have urged the administration to protect mature and old-growth forests on federal lands to address our climate and biodiversity crises, and we need to keep the pressure on. We need the administration to commit to strengthening the proposed protections for old growth in national forests and also protect mature trees from logging. There’s a comment period open now until September 20th that needs your input.

Safeguarding and expanding carbon-rich forests on federal lands is one of the most important, cost-effective, and immediately available strategies to fight the climate crisis. Older trees accumulate and store enormous amounts of carbon over many centuries and provide vital wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air, and mitigation for floods and droughts. Larger, older trees are also more fire resistant.

The Forest Service’s new proposal rightly recognizes the importance of mature and old-growth forests, but doesn’t do enough to keep them from being cut down and sent to the mill.  Protecting them is the direction federal forest management needs to move in.

We need to ensure mature and old-growth trees and forests on federal lands remain in place to mitigate climate change, protect biodiversity, and continue providing their natural benefits for future generations.

A river winds through a forest seen directly from above near Klamath Falls, Oregon.
A river winds through a forest seen directly from above near Klamath Falls, Oregon. (Brian Handy / Getty Images)

60 Days Remain

Delivery to United States Forest Service

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Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

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It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.