Gov. Noem and Colleagues Oppose Biden's Amendments to the National Forest System

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February 6, 2024

Contact: Amelia Joy


Gov. Noem and Colleagues Oppose Biden’s Amendments to the National Forest System


PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem and five of her fellow Republican governors sent a letter to President Biden and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing the amendment of all land management plans for units of the National Forest System. You can read the letter here.


“We have watched this effort unfold over the course of nearly two years. During this time, USDA and USFS leadership have failed to engage with us as leaders of our states to address any of the challenges and flaws we have identified with this old–growth forest policy,” wrote Governor Noem and the other governors. “We cannot have confidence that this policy is sound and supported by science… The USFS should abandon this effort or at the very least, begin this process again.”


The governors in their letter explain that the existing old-growth forest definitions are sound and sufficient for informing decisionmakers.


“We are witnessing a concerning theme across federal land management agencies where decision-making is being elevated to the Washington Office and the expertise of the field is being ignored,” continued Governor Noem and her colleagues. “USDA and USFS should be focusing on where the need truly is – removing administrative bottlenecks and working with partners to increase the pace and scale of forest management projects in order to meaningfully address our forest and wildfire health crisis.”


South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources State Forester Markus Warnke also sent a letter on this subject to the director of the Ecosystem Management Coordination Staff. You can read that letter here.


Governor Noem was joined by the following Republican governors in issuing the statement:

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, and Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo.