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ARCATA, Calif. —The USDA Forest Service has released the Northwest Forest Plan science synthesis, a report that will serve as the scientific foundation for land management planning in northern California, western Oregon and western Washington.

One of the most significant findings of the Northwest Forest Plan science synthesis is that the plan has protected old-growth forests as habitat for important species. At the same time, the report found that restoration of fire and other active forest management activities at the landscape scales can promote ecological integrity and rebuild forest resilience to disturbance and stressors.

The report, Synthesis of Science to Inform Land Management Within the Northwest Forest Plan Area, summarizes science published since 1994, when the Northwest Forest Plan was implemented. Based on the best available scientific data at the time, the plan was designed to resolve debates about old-growth forests and endangered species while providing timber outputs from 17 Northwest national forests totaling 24 million acres. In California, the plan amended forest plans for the Klamath, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta-Trinity, and Six Rivers National Forests.

The science synthesis was authored by 50 scientists from Forest Service Research and Development, other federal agencies, universities, and tribes. It also was informed by extensive public input with stakeholders who provided comments to peer reviewers for their consideration, as well as suggestions of scientific literature to the authors. The Ecological Society of America, a science organization, independently managed scientific review of synthesis content, which covers topics ranging from old-growth forest ecosystems and tribal values to timber harvest and socioeconomic well-being.

Published by the Pacific Northwest Research Station in partnership with the Pacific Southwest Research Station, the science synthesis will inform the assessment stage of the land management planning process across the Northwest Forest Plan area. Using the synthesis as its scientific foundation, assessments will evaluate existing and possible future conditions and trends in social, economic, and ecological systems. As such, the synthesis is not a decision document. This synthesis is one of several completed or in process across California. Others include the Sierra-Nevada and Southern Cascade Range science synthesis (completed 2014), and the Northeastern California Plateaus Bioregion science synthesis (in progress).

The three-volume Northwest Forest Plan science synthesis is available online.

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