The Kaibab National Forest released a revised management plan after nearly a decade of work. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the plan focuses on contending with increased wildfire and climate change.
The forest management plan was eight years in the making. It represents the first official revision since 1988 when the original management plan was devised for the 1.6 million-acre national forest.
Mike Williams, Forest Supervisor on the Kaibab National Forest, says one of the primary goals of the plan is to counter the effects of climate change and reduce instances of large, catastrophic wildfire.
“One of the most important areas that we’ve looked at is the need to thin the forests and reintroduce fire in terms of managing the structure of the forest. Really, to be able to withstand fire better than it has in the past as these larger fires seem to continue,” Williams says.
In addition to the new forest-health initiatives, the plan recommends that approximately 6,400 acres of the Kaibab National Forest be designated as wilderness. Many of the suggested areas expand already established wilderness land on the Kaibab. Williams describes the plan as reflecting a significant shift in the perspective of forest managers over the last quarter century.
“I think back in 1988 we were still in a time when many people were looking at national forests as a source of goods and services, commodities … It’s much more focused today on the ecological and socio-economic sustainability of these national forests that we have,” Williams says.
According to Williams, all 11 national forests in the Southwest are currently developing new management plans. The Kaibab National Forest plan is the first to be released.