Letters to the president: Protect our forests

A Kentucky forest champion makes the case for protecting habitat.


Photo: Kentucky Heartwood staff and Council Members by Tina Marie Camp Scheff 


Older trees are the climate solution we don’t have to invent, but simply protect. Protecting these trees is also critical to saving species threatened with extinction and to safeguarding drinking water for millions of Americans. This past Earth Day, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that moves the United States toward more protection for old-growth forests. The president directed federal agencies to conduct an inventory of mature and old-growth forests on America’s federal lands so that policies can be adopted to protect them.

But even with a thorough inventory, we can’t assume that the federal agencies will make a durable rule that protects our more important trees and forests from logging. So we’ve been holding webinars and asking people to write letters. In May, Chris Karounos from Kentucky Heartwood wrote a letter to the White House after attending a webinar.


Thank you for the executive order on climate change and forests. It is great to have a deadline for completing the old growth inventory. But we need to have a long lasting rule protecting old growth forests as soon as possible!! Just an hour south of me on Forest Service land, 180 acres of 150+ year old old-growth are set to be logged in a project that is logging 3,500 acres of mature forest. Worse still the logging is on steep landslide prone hills above critical stream habitat for the Kentucky arrow darter, a federal listed endangered species under the ESA. My organization, Kentucky Heartwood, is forced to sue the Forest Service for not doing their job. The “South Redbird Wildlife Enhancement Project” is doing the opposite of what its name suggests. Instead of logging to “create habitat” for a species of least concern, the ruffed grouse, the Forest Service should be conserving endangered species habitat and considering logging effects on causing climate change. We are afraid that our lawsuit may not be enough to stop this. Trees are already marked for harvest and we keep finding more landslides into streams sensitive to sedimentation in North Redbird Ranger district from the recent Redbird One project. Many versions of this story are echoed across the country. We need a federal rule to help protect these important old forests to fight climate change and protect endangered species before it is too late!

Tell Secretary Vilsack: Stop the logging of our most important trees


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

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