Ruffed Grouse Society Petitions U.S. Forest Service to Sustain Young Forest Habitat

RGS has filed a legal challenge to compel the Forest Service to follow the law

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Coraopolis, PA – The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) has filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service due to the agency’s consistent failure to provide the young forest habitats required by the ruffed grouse, American woodcock, golden-winged warbler and other game and nongame wildlife on national forests throughout the eastern United States.

“The failure of national forests in Regions 8 and 9 to meet even their own minimum goals for young forest habitats has contributed to substantial declines in the populations of game and nongame wildlife that depend upon these habitats,” said RGS President and CEO John Eichinger. According to Ryan Woody, an attorney representing RGS on the Petition from the firm of Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C., “The failure of the U.S. Forest Service to sustain young forest habitats sufficient to support viable populations of ruffed grouse and other wildlife that require these habitats on the Chattahoochee (GA), Hoosier (IN) and Sumter (SC) National Forests is a clear violation of regulations promulgated under the National Forest Management Act.”

On other national forests in the east, wildlife populations that thrive only in young forests continue to decline. For example, the Wayne National Forest in Ohio has established only 2 percent of the young forest acreage identified as a minimum goal in its forest plan. The Jefferson National Forest in Virginia has established only 12 percent of the young forest acreage identified as a minimum goal, while the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee has established only 13 percent.

“From the heart of ruffed grouse country in the Great Lakes region, to the historic covers of New England and the hills of the Appalachians, ruffed grouse and other wildlife of young forests have been poorly served by the Forest Service. RGS takes this step reluctantly, but has little alternative due to the Forest Service’s lack of response to our repeated efforts to work collaboratively,” continued Eichinger. “These deficiencies indicate a systemic problem that demands the attention of our most senior officials within the Forest Service.”

About The Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society

Established in 1961, The Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS/AWS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

Information on RGS/AWS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found at: www.RuffedGrouseSociety.org.

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