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Biden proposes rule change to protect old growth and mature forests

Scientists have known for years that old growth trees can benefit ecosystems and resist wildfire, but the Forest Service does not have regulations in place to protect them.

The Biden administration has proposed a rule change that could address that.

Last year, President Joe Biden ordered public lands agencies to inventory old growth and mature trees.

The study showed that a surprising number of mature trees remain.

But many have been removed, said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity, and drought, logging, bark beetles and climate change threaten the ones still in place.

The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on a proposed rule change to protect them.

"The best way to restore the extent of old growth, is to protect the mature trees. They’re the ones, that if you let them grow, that they will be turning into old growth. So we need a rule," Spivak said.

One benefit of old growth forests is that they can help offset the effects of climate change.

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.