Groups propose recreation areas on WNC national forests

The federal government should create two national recreation areas in Western North Carolina and designate nearly 110,000 acres of national forest land as wilderness, a coalition of more than 30 environmental and outdoor recreation groups says.

The groups released a joint position statement this week calling for the designations to be part of the long-range plan for Nantahala and Pisgah national forests, which take in parts of virtually every county in WNC. The U.S. Forest Service is revising plans for the forests.

All of the recreation and wilderness areas would require approval by Congress, but proponents say getting them included in the forest plan expected to be adopted in 2017 or 2018 would be a vital first step in that process.

Pisgah National Recreation Area would include Mount Pisgah, Looking Glass Falls, Shining Rock Wilderness, Graveyard Fields, the Cradle of Forestry and other scenic areas located on 115,573 acres between Brevard and Waynesville.

Grandfather National Recreation Area would cover 57,400 acres in Avery, Burke, Caldwell and Watauga counties and include upper Wilson Creek, Harper Creek and Lost Cove.

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