Updated October 17 With New Statistics
Bettina Ring is the American Forest Foundation (AFF)'s Senior Vice President for Family Forests.
The 2012 wildfire season could soon be one of the worst on record.
With nearly 9 million acres burned by wildfire as I write this, forest conservation resources are quickly being sapped.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), for example, has exceeded $1 billion spent on fighting wildfires [PDF, pg. 1071]—resources that could have been spent preserving healthy forests and preventing wildfire.
The Forest Service has several great programs, like the Forest Stewardship Program and Forest Health Protection, that give landowners the tools and boots-on-the-ground expertise they need to manage healthy and fire resilient woodlands.
With better planning, resources used to fight wildfires could instead be used to extend the reach of these programs, effectively addressing our wildfire threat more safely and proactively.
Family forest owners steward more forestland in America than the federal government. As the largest ownership group, these families sustainably manage working forests and protect water quality and wildlife habitat for the benefit of all of us.
A well-managed forest provides multiple public benefits including rural jobs and recreational opportunities. Family forest owners need all the conservation tools they can get, and yet resources for private forest owners have diminished steadily over the last decade.
HEALTHY WOODS ARE MORE RESILIENT TO WILDFIRE
This past summer, wildland firefighters, foresters, and woodland owners urged the Obama Administration to support conservation programs and strong wood products markets to better secure fire-safe woodlands.
These advocates also urged the Obama Administration to support restoring funds redirected away from USFS programs, so we can ensure the long-term safety of our firefighters, our rural communities, and our nation’s forest legacy.
Woodland owners want to do right by their land, and demand remains high for the best information and tools to manage private forests. That’s why the American Forest Foundation launched MyLandPlan.org, an interactive and easy-to-use website for woodland owners.
PROTECT YOUR WOODS FROM NATURAL DISASTERS WITH MYLANDPLAN.ORG
While woodland owners share a lot in common, most woodland owners want to make the best decisions for their land and their legacy. MyLandPlan.org helps woodland owners think about, and plan for, what they need to do to protect their woods.
At AFF, we know that there are agencies and other organizations that are tirelessly committed to helping woodland owners protect their woods—many of these groups are our partners in advancing forest conservation across the country. The goal of My Land Plan is to provide a one-stop shop, where woodland owners can access a variety of information, from a variety of our partners and other sources all in one place.
With customized information available to each woodland owner who selects goals and activities, My Land Plan helps to increase the active management of woodlands by landowners all across the country. This is turn will help keep more forest land healthy and productive. Already, woodland owners have mapped more than 130,000 acres of forestland and selected goals and actions to help keep their forest healthy. That’s a great start!
My Land Plan helps woodland owners answer the question, “What’s really going on out there in those woods?” “Am I doing the right thing?” “What else can I be doing?”
If you’re a woodland owner, check out My Land Plan and find out all the ways the site can provide you with useable information, and please help spread the word about My Land Plan to other woodland owners!
Photo (bottom) of Jim Cota on his Oregon Tree Farm by Rob Amberg