Forest Service in home stretch on draft Pisgah, Nantahala forests plan

James Melonas, deputy supervisor of the National Forests in North Carolina (NFsNC) office addressed a crowd of Forest Service colleagues at an April national training in Denver to share his thoughts on the ongoing Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests plan revision effort in Western North Carolina.

His message: be transparent and build trust. “Really focusing on relationships and engaging folks as early as possibly well before the revision starts is critical,” Melonas said.

A national forest management plan provides a general framework to guide a forest in managing its resources for the next two decades. The environmental impact statement estimates the cumulative environmental impacts that may result from the proposed draft forest plan.

Michelle Aldridge, planning staff officer and forest planner of NFsNC, says that the Forest Service has been sharing building blocks of the plan and will continue to unveil pieces of the draft revised forest plan throughout the summer. The agency will present the complete draft plan to the public in late autumn.

As for now, Aldridge said Forest Service staff members remain focused on developing and fine-tuning various aspects of the draft. A 90-day comment period will follow that includes public meetings at multiple locations throughout Western North Carolina will follow the fall release.

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