More than sixty percent of threatened and endangered plant and animal species in the United States are found in private forests. More than 57 million acres of private forests, however, are expected to experience substantial increases in development over the next few decades, according to a new report by the U.S. Forest Service.
“Over half of America’s forests are privately owned and are under pressure from housing development, pests, diseases and fire,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Future development is likely to result in a decrease of private forest habitat for many at-risk species.”
Development of forests for housing could be particularly harmful in the eastern United States, where increased housing density in rural areas is likely to contribute to the decline of the largest numbers of forest-associated at-risk species. Wildfires have the potential to impact the habitats of the greatest variety of at-risk species in the southeast, southwest, and California.
The report suggests actions to reduce the impacts of development on wildlife and plant species already at risk, including building wildlife tunnels under highways, clustering housing in order to maintain open space, and increasing public awareness of the negative impacts of free-ranging cats and other pets.
To download the report, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/openspace/fote/at-risk.html.
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