The U.S. National Forest Management Act of 1976 put in place a system for forest management. The Act was deemed necessary after several debates over the legality of clear-cutting forests.
Several lawsuits had been brought against the U.S. Forest
Service for practicing this technique of forest management. In each instance, the Court had to rule that the Forest Service violated the Organic Act of 1897. Both timber harvesting and forest management posed serious problems, however, and the Forest Service looked for Congressional help. After several proposals, Congress passed the National Forest Management Act, giving the Forest Service much leeway in forest management -- with the goal of multiple use and sustained yield.
The law addressed a number of controversial issues. It allowed clear-cutting as this was judged necessary by the Forest Service. While species diversity was to be considered, the Forest Service was to decide how to achieve this. Also under the Act, the Service was to move away from timber management of marginal lands, but it was to determine what fell under that category. In addition:
trees could be cut down in old age, but the agency had permission to lower that age when it saw fit; and timber could be harvested only at an even rate.
The text of the law