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Sunday, September 25th, 2016
Written by Deborah

Need Your Help for Nanthala/Pisgah Forests Wilderness Comments (including the Craggy Mountains)

Please email/write to the US Forest Service (address below) to ask for wilderness recommendations in the Nantahala/Pisgah Forests. (Talking points below.) See Craggy Mountains:  #1.
The background:
The US Forest Service has been working on the 20+ year revision of its management plan for Nanthala/Pisgah National Forests since 2012-3.  In 2015 the Forest Service expanded its wilderness inventory to include close to 360,000 acres in the two forests. In July 2016 the US Forest Service released their draft wilderness evaluations of this inventory, which unfortunately failed to take many deserving areas forward into analysis and whittled this acreage down by roughly 80% or more. The results fail to properly document the wilderness characteristics of the areas evaluated. This will inevitably prevent deserving areas from being recommended for wilderness and could potentially block them from even being protected under backcountry management, which could leave them open to logging.
 The Forest Service is accepting public comments on the evaluation. The Forest Service needs to properly evaluate these areas, with the most deserving being considered for wilderness recommendations.

1. Please advocate for the Craggy Mountains.  On Sept 20, 2016 Buncombe County Commission voted unanimously (7-0) to adopt a resolution recommending that the extended Craggy Mountains Wilderness Study Area be recommended for Wilderness designation to the US Forest Service and thereby, for them to recommend this to the US Congress for such a law to be passed.  Buncombe County resolved that 7900 acres be designated as wilderness.  However, in the Forest Service July Wilderness Evaluation, they stated that only under 5000 acres could be considered for Wilderness.
2. Tell the Forest Service to reconsider and greatly expand the areas carried forward for analysis. All of the 52 areas in the Wilderness Inventory have excellent wilderness characteristics and should not be so quickly dismissed by the Forest Service as having “no wilderness character.”
3. Ask the Forest Service to  include in alternatives deserving areas that were promoted by the public such as:  Terrapin Mountain, Tellico Bald, Wesser Bald, and Dobson Knob.
4. Tell the Forest Service to reinstate Overflow Wilderness Study Area in their recommendations — an area that has already been designated by the US Congress as a wilderness study area.
5. Tell the Forest Service that Mackey Mountain, and Tusquitee Bald should be included in Wilderness recommendation at a larger size than the Evaluation document suggests. Tusquitee Bald was inventoried at 29,000  acres, but the current evaluation whittled it down to 8500 acres. Mackey Mountain was inventoried at 14,985 acres, but the current evaluation whittled it down to 7355 acres. The Forest Service should NOT rule out or whittle down areas that have better Wilderness qualities, more solitude, and less intrusions of sites & sounds from the outside world than existing Wilderness areas like Shining Rock & Linville Gorge.
 6. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement must include a broad range of reasonable alternatives for Wilderness Designation.  The current draft alternatives are too narrow.
USFS contact:
Address your comments to the Plan Revision Team Leader
Email: NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us
Subject line: Summer Building Blocks
Or mail to:
Attn: Plan Revision Team Leader
National Forests in North Carolina
160 Zillicoa Street, Suite A
Asheville, NC 28801
TWS links:   The Wilderness Society
General information and critique of the evaluations: http://www.ncmountaintreasures.org/nantahala-pisgah-forest-plan-revision/
Area-specific comments: http://www.ncmountaintreasures.org/nantahala-pisgah-forest-plan-revision/usfs-wilderness-evaluations-and-tws-responses/

Friday, September 23rd, 2016
Written by Deborah

Sierra Club Oct. 5: “Environmental Legislative Update – The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

On Oct. 5, the Sierra Club presents an “Environmental Legislative Update: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” The presentation features updates on coal ash, water quality, clean energy, recycling and more from the 2016 NC legislative session and what we can expect in 2017.
Date: Wednesday, Oct 5
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, Asheville (Charlotte Street and Edwin Place).
For more information, contact Judy Mattox, 828-683-2176, judymattox@sbcglobal.net

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
Written by Deborah

August 3: Pollinators, Plants, Toxins & Roundup

Bee City USA’s Phyllis Stiles presents a discussion of pollinators, the plants they like, the toxins they hate, and the special danger posed by Roundup.  She will also report on the latest encouraging positions taken by Home Depot and Lowes.
Date: Wednesday, August 3
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, Asheville (Charlotte Street and Edwin Place).
For more information, contact Judy Mattox, 828-683-2176, judymattox@sbcglobal.net 
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Written by Deborah

Friday June 24: “The Future of Renewable Energy & Environmental Policy in NC”

 “The Future of Renewable Energy & Environmental Policy in NC,” with speakers Ken Brame, Sierra club Political Chair & Brownie Newman, Vice-Chair Buncombe County Commission.
Location: The Collider, 1 Haywood St., Suite 401, Asheville, 8:30am- 10:00am.  Free & open to the public.  More information: ThinkNCFirst-Asheville Invitation Contact: sarah@willowstrategies.com.
Recommended parking in the Rankin Parking Deck.
This event is part of Think NC First, a think tank and sponsor of Roadmap 2025 Project for NC’s education, economic growth, natural resources, and quality of life. http://www.nc-roadmap.org./
Monday, June 13th, 2016
Written by Deborah

Recycling: June 18 hard to recycle items collection Weaverville

Asheville Greenworks hard to recycle event For more information: http://www.ashevillegreenworks.org/hard-2-recycle.html

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
Written by Deborah

Input sought on Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Plan

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