Buncombe seeks permanent federal protection of 16,000 acres

The Buncombe County Commission unanimously passed a resolution that asks the U.S. Forest Service to recommend permanent federal protection for a 16,000-acre area near Asheville within Pisgah National Forest.

The proposal requests broader, more lasting protections than the U.S. Forest Service’s Proposed Land Management Plan for Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, which was released Feb. 7, 2020. The draft plan, scheduled to be finalized in 2021, will oversee the management of the region’s two national forests for the next two decades.

The Buncombe proposal would expand protection in Shope’s Creek, the Big Ivy watershed near Barnardsville and portions of the Craggy Mountains in northern Buncombe County.

Advocates of the proposal say the area is one of the wildest and most ecologically extraordinary portions of Pisgah National Forest.

In February, the groups proposed to the Forest Service that an area be protected as the Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area, encompassing 16,000 acres, and its boundaries include 8,693 acres recommended as federal wilderness.

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