ASHEVILLE, N.C., February 29, 2016 — Starting this month, the Forest Service will provide an opportunity for the public and partners to see draft building blocks of the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Plan as they are being developed. Some initial building blocks of the plan are available now on the National Forests in North Carolina website.
Since 2012, the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests have been in the process of revising their forest plan. The forest plan is a required document that guides what activities can take place on a particular piece of Forest Service land. Forest plans are typically revised every 15-20 years.
“Public input is essential to our planning process,” explains James Melonas, Deputy Forest Supervisor for National Forests in North Carolina. “We are continuing to engage the public in various ways as we develop the Forest Plan. To help facilitate input and discussion, we are sharing our thinking on each small piece of the plan as it is being developed. Sharing now allows us to make sure we are on the right track before we release an official draft.”
This month, the Forest Service is releasing pieces of the plan that apply to the whole forest. These pieces identify broad goals and concepts for managing the forest’s resources. More building blocks of the developing plan, including the management area plan direction, the plan monitoring program and required analyses, such as the evaluation of lands that might be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, will be available in the months ahead. These additional materials will be posted on the website throughout spring and summer 2016.
“It is important for the public to understand that the materials we are releasing now are ‘under construction.’ As we receive feedback, the versions on the web will be updated to reflect our evolving thinking,” says Melonas. “We want to show how public input is being used in the development of the plan.”
These building blocks are designed to build a broadly supported and implementable forest plan that guides the Forest to provide clean and abundant water, connect people to the land, and improve and restore forest health. A formal draft plan and associated Environmental Impact Statement are expected for release in Fall 2016.
The developing plan language, as well as a short video from Deputy Forest Supervisor James Melonas, is available on the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Planning Home page of the National Forests in North Carolina website (www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc). New content will be updated as it is developed on the Forest Plan Under Construction page.