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Now’s your chance with Nantahala – Pisgah forest plans January 25, 2013

Posted by Jenny in conservation, Nantahala National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Southern Appalachians, Wilderness Society.
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Bartram Falls, Ledbetter Creek, near Cheoah Bald

Bartram Falls, Ledbetter Creek, near Cheoah Bald

The US Forest Service is preparing to modify the management plans for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Now is the opportunity for people who care about these places to make themselves heard.

The Forest Service has scheduled meetings in February and March for the six ranger districts. (See bottom of this post for details.) Members of the public are invited to attend to find out how revisions will be made to plans that will affect western NC forests for a full 15 years.

Followers of this blog have seen posts about places in the two national forests designated as “Mountain Treasures” by the Wilderness Society. I’ve blogged about seven of these; there are 41 in all, and I intend to visit most of them—all of them if I can. These Mountain Treasures are particular spots for which the Wilderness Society plans to try for higher levels of protection from threats such as logging and road-building. The highest protection would be afforded through wilderness designation, but other means exist, such as having certain places listed as official Research Natural Areas, Scenic Areas, Botanical Areas, Historical Areas, and so on. Roadless areas are another important designation.

I went to a meeting last night in Franklin that was attended by representatives of the Wilderness Society, the Nantahala Hiking Club, and others. It was interesting for me to learn a bit about how these plan revisions are done. Some of the people there were recently involved in the same process with George Washington National Forest in Virginia. Dealing with the bureaucratic intricacies is a full-time art in itself, and it takes both dedication and, at times, a sense of humor. I learned that “roadless” areas sometimes have a few roads, that “early succession” is a stage in forest progression oddly beloved by the timber industry and hunters of the ruffed grouse, and that “old growth forests” can be planned for the future . . . hmmm!

It takes training, patience, and nerves of steel to keep after one’s goals in this bureaucratic fog, playing the game, bringing good science to bear, dealing diplomatically with people who have opposed interests, and trying for a reasonable consensus. But you don’t have to be an expert to participate. Your voice can still be heard, and you can join the efforts of a local conservation group to add clout to that voice.

As I told the meeting, one subject that strikes a nerve with me is ATV use in the forests. As it stands, there are a few small “sacrifice” areas in these two forests where ATVs are permitted, and I hope the acreage will never be expanded. Unfortunately, the problem goes beyond management to enforcement. While illegal ATV use is not so common in Nantahala, I have seen areas in the Bald Mountains in Pisgah where ATVs were running roughshod over the trails and even on the AT.

Here are the six meetings scheduled for the ranger districts of the two forests. All will run from 6 to 9:

  • Cheoah: Feb. 21 at Graham County Community Center, Robbinsville;
  • Appalachian: Feb. 25 at Mars Hill College, Broyhill Chapel, Mars Hill;
  • Tusquitee: March 4 at First Baptist Church, Murphy;
  • Grandfather: March 12, McDowell Technical Community College, Rm. 113, Marion;
  • Pisgah: March 18, Transylvania County Library, Brevard;
  • Nantahala: March 19, Tartan Hall, Franklin.

Consider the value of these places, and take action.

View from Huckleberry Knob

View from Huckleberry Knob

View from Teyahalee Bald

View from Teyahalee Bald

Snowbird Creek

Snowbird Creek

Big trees at Joyce Kilmer

Big trees at Joyce Kilmer

Looking across the Fires Creek basin

Looking across the Fires Creek basin

Azalea near Cantrell Top, Unicoi Mountains

Azalea near Cantrell Top, Unicoi Mountains


1. Gary - January 28, 2013

look like wonderful places .. I hope you get some turnout to these meetings.

Jenny - January 28, 2013

There’s a lot of great places in these forests. Thanks for your good wishes.

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