WASHINGTON — On Nov. 15, the Forest Service released its newest national strategy, “Rise to the Future: National Fish and Aquatic Strategy.” This strategy is an update to the original, which was released about 30 years ago. This updated strategy has an increased emphasis on partnerships, the economic and social benefits of our aquatic resources, and integrating across the breadth of Forest Service staff and deputy areas.
Over the past 30 years our understanding of the threats and stressors affecting our aquatic systems has changed drastically; therefore, updates are needed to meet the new and increasing threats. The Forest Service is responsible for managing some of the most crucial aquatic resources which are responsible for supporting many of the nation’s fisheries. There are also immense economic, social and cultural benefits that flow from healthy watersheds. The updated strategy also strengthens our commitment to work with federal, state, tribal, private, and nongovernmental partners, all of which are vital to our ability to sustainably restore habitats, improve watersheds, conduct research and serve the public.
The strategy contains six priority goals:
- Conserve fish and aquatic resources;
- Connect people to the outdoors through fishing, boating and other aquatic activities;
- Strengthen partnerships and work across boundaries;
- Deliver and apply scientific research;
- Build capacity through mentoring and training; and
- Communicate the value and benefits of fish and aquatic resources.
Each goal contains multiple objectives which aim to address current and future pressures and management needs such as invasive species; impacts from drought, floods, and other extreme weather events and increasing public demands on natural resources. The strategy also calls out near-term high priority action items to put in motion specific actionable projects to achieve the six priority goals.
This strategy was produced by a team of nearly 60 participants across the agency along with representatives from the American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Fish Habitat Partnership, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, and Trout Unlimited. The full strategy, including the specific objectives and high priority action items, can be found on the Forest Service fisheries web page.