"An Obama administration plan to protect wildlife and water in U.S. national forests drew fire on Monday from environmental advocates who contend the new rule needs stronger scientific standards.
As it stands now, the proposed Forest Planning Rule gives too much discretion to individual managers of the 155 forests and grasslands that cover 193 million acres (78 million hectares) of public territory, a former U.S. wildlife official said in a telephone briefing.
'Our forests are in real trouble,' said Jamie Rappaport Clark, former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and now with the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife.
Clark and other environmental activists noted that national forests are a source of drinking water for some 124 million people, and cited a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that said these areas sustain 223,000 jobs in rural areas and contribute $14.5 billion a year to the U.S. economy."