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 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.
Address your comments to the Plan Revision Team Leader
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/