Public lands provide rural communities with economic opportunities, environmental benefits, and improve quality of life.
State policymakers should consider public land forest management that protects mature forests and caps annual timber harvest. Many states have passed legislation similar to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), which requires an environmental analysis of activities on state-owned lands. Any state-level environmental protection act should ensure robust public comment, environmental analysis, and assessment of the impact on Indigenous communities and the climate. Policy to actively manage the wild/urban interface through prescribed fire, small-diameter thinning, and managed grazing can help to reduce fuels and protect communities from catastrophic wildfire.
- Federal: Pass the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act, which would create a permanent endowment fund that offers stable and reliable funding for rural public lands, county services, and education. The bipartisan bill would appropriate initial money for the fund, and would be further funded by commercial revenue generated on national forests, Bureau of Land Management-administered land in Oregon and California, and Fish and Wildlife refuges. The bill would prevent underpayment or nonpayment of federal obligations to local governments through annual appropriations shortfalls, as well as preventing federal lands extraction due to county government shortfalls.
- State: Invest in public recreation and green spaces that promote rural livability while attracting tourism.
- State: Protect state forests.