The United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was at the Forest Service Smokejumper Center on Friday to sign a stewardship memorandum that contained a blueprint to modernize the U.S. Forest Service.

Perdue outlines aspects of the agreement officially signed on Friday.

“It increases productivity,” said Secretary Perdue. “These are renewable resources. We are blessed with a beautiful country here that grows great renewable resources. I’m from Georgia where we see trees as a crop, and it’s a longer tern crop, but it’s a productive renewable resource, and guess what, it also has the ability to take carbon out of the air.”

Perdue said the memorandum also approves speeding up the permitting process for various projects without being bogged down by excessive red tape, or what he termed ‘bubble wrap’.

“We want to increase productivity by also speeding up the process of how we approve these many uses,” he said. “Businesses and recreation, outfitting, the forest products sector, communication, and many others rely on thorough and speedy reviews and approval to remain viable and deliver the good and services we all depend on.”

Secretary Perdue continued to count off the features of the new memorandum.

“We’re also going to improve access to our national forests and grasslands,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a we-four-no-more. I think most of the litigation we see has a possessiveness there that doesn’t want to share, and we believe in good access for all the multiple users. The national forests and grasslands are places of opportunity for anglers and hunters, motorized users and non-motorized users and recreation of all kinds in enjoying these lands.”

Perdue finished up by promising to lessen the red tape that complicates all such efforts.

“Some people call it red tape but I call it bubble wrap,” he said. “We want to expedite our environmental reviews without sacrificing the environmental quality we all demand. As stewards of the land it’s our moral obligation to leave it better than we found it, and that’s what we want to do and we can do that through active management. We want to expedite environmental reviews to support active management to protect communities, businesses, watershed and wildlife habitat.”

Surrounded by various officials, including Congressman Greg Gianforte, Secretary Perdue then signed the memorandum.

After the signing of the memorandum, KGVO received this response from Wild Earth Guardians.

“Today's announcement from Secretary Perdue directing the Forest Service to prioritize logging, grazing, drilling, mining and all around exploitation of national forest lands comes as another gut-punch from the Trump administration. Fish and wildlife depend on the integrity of forests to survive, and this latest order threatens the survival of a whole range of species already struggling from exploitation and climate change. When Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration talk about ‘modernizing’ the U.S. Forest Service what they really mean is undermining our nation’s bedrock environmental laws to facilitate more public lands logging, drilling, mining and grazing with less citizen oversight and less science. The Trump administration’s so-called ‘Modernization Blueprint’ is really just a blueprint for more public lands logging, drilling, mining and grazing at the expense of critical wildlife habitat and clean water.”