Put the forest first!

The U.S. Forest Service rolled out a “draft” management plan last fall after a series of public meetings. The plan, while clearly labeled “draft”, placed around 700,000 acres of the million or so acres of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in management areas deemed appropriate for logging. To say the plan caught some stakeholders off guard is like saying the Grand Canyon is a ravine in Arizona.

The FS and proponents of the draft plan quickly tried to walk back the 700,000-acre claim stating that there were already safeguards in place that would protect much of the area from commercial logging. That is likely correct, plus records from past years show that only about 1,000 acres per year have been logged from North Carolina national forests over the past decade.

The pressure within the agency to come up with an appropriate plan was intense. FS employees know the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are special places that deserve special attention and expressed wishes that this little break might give pause and allow everyone to focus on doing things, “… the way the resources and all interested parties deserve.”

There will be announcements of dates and places for upcoming meetings regarding plan revision. Show up, en masse, with your signs and bumper stickers declaring “Put the Forest First!” These are signs FS personnel would welcome.

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