By Sept 30: The Nantahala/ Pisgah National Forests Need Your Help

September 4th, 2017
By Deborah

Speak up to protect Nantahala-Pisgah forests!

North Carolina’s national forests house some of the most beautiful landscapes in our state and nation, as well as critical habitat for a range of important animal species. That’s why it’s critical for those of us who love these forests and their inhabitants to speak up now on the Nantahala Pisgah National Forest Plan being drafted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Trail in the Nantahala National ForestThe current preliminary draft of the plan could, technically, allow for timber-cutting in sensitive areas because it treats the vast majority of the forests as being the same, without recognizing many special places within the landscape that are important to backcountry recreation, exceptional biodiversity, old growth trees, and connectivity of habitat.

The USFS is taking public comments on the plan until Sept. 30. We must encourage the agency to consider the unique needs of differing landscapes within the forest and provide protection through this plan revision accordingly.

Here are some of the concerns the Sierra Club and our allies have raised regarding each district, as well as the overall plan. You’re welcome to take these ideas and include them in comments you send by mail or email to the Forest Service (submission guidelines below).] Please personalize what you know, love, and recommend protecting:

Grandfather Ranger District: Linville Mountain should be placed in backcountry management. The Upper Creek Gorge/Sugar Knob Backcountry area should be expanded. The Upper Wilson Creek Backcountry area should be expanded.  

Appalachian Ranger District: Snowball Mountain, Coxcombe Mountain, and Shope Creek should be included in the Craggy Mountains/Big Ivy Special Interest Area. (We are pleased by the creation of a new Special Interest Area in Big Ivy, though it should cover all of Big Ivy, and not just a portion.)

Pisgah Ranger District: Upper Courthouse Creek, Daniel Ridge, Cedar Rock Mountain, and upper Lickstone Ridge should be placed in backcountry management to protect their remote character and the species that depend on them.

Nantahala Ranger District: All of Panthertown Valley and Flat Creek should be in backcountry management. Tellico Bald, Siler Bald, and Fish Hawk Mountain should be placed in backcountry management. The backcountry area around Terrapin Mountain should be expanded to 4,000 acres. Corbin Knob, Hench Knob, and Chunky Gal Mountain should be Special Interest Areas.

Cheoah Ranger District: Upper Santeetlah Creek should be a Special Interest Area or backcountry area.

Tusquitee District: Gipp Creek should be placed in backcountry management. The Unicoi Mountain backcountry area should be expanded.

Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in general: There are many special places that are in the wrong management area and lack the amount of protection they require., In addition to specific areas mentioned under each Ranger District above, there are dozens of smaller natural areas are not protected by the forest plan that should be “zoned” in the backcountry designation. Other resources, such as Old Growth, Riparian areas, state-designated Natural Areas, and major recreational trail corridors, do not have specific management area designations with standards and prescriptions for protection (a departure from the current plan). Rather they are left in zoning that is wide open to logging. For example, the Bartram Trail, Benton McKay Trail, Art Loeb Trail, and Mountains-To-Sea Trail lack a management area that would preserve the special character of these long-distance hiking trails. They should be designated as special corridors, similar to the Appalachian Trail and the Trail of Tears. In short, more specific management areas with standards and guidelines need to exist at the Forest Plan level to hold the District Rangers accountable when proposing future projects within their Districts.

Submit your comments by Sept. 30.

  • By email: Use the subject line, “Spring 2017 Material Plan Building Blocks” and send your message to ncplanrevision@fs.fed.us.
  • By postal mail to: Attn: Plan Revision, National Forests in North Carolina, 160A Zillicoa St. Asheville, NC 28801

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