Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan: More Logging or More Wilderness?

Deciding the future of our national forests in North Carolina

The U.S. Forest Service is updating its management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in western North Carolina—and a lot is at stake for these treasured Blue Ridge forests. A draft proposal would open over 700,000 acres for logging! But the plan also creates opportunities for habitat restoration and for new wilderness and recreation areas.

Act now to create new wilderness and recreation areas

The Forest Service is taking public comments on its Potential Wilderness Inventory through February 27. This is our chance to designate new areas for wilderness and recreation. Act now!

Wild South is advocating for the creation of 12 new Wilderness Areas totaling 88,000 acres and 2 National Recreation Areas totaling 220,000 acres. What does that mean?

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  • Wilderness Area designation is the strongest protection we can get for our public lands. These areas are permanently set aside as places for wild nature, free of human disturbance. In wilderness areas, there can be no development, no roads, and no machinery. Wilderness areas provide unspoiled natural refuges for people to visit—places of renewal and discovery.
  • National Recreation Areas are managed for the health of the forest and for recreational use. The proposed new recreation areas will ensure that people have lots of places to enjoy the great outdoors. National Recreation Areas welcome hunting, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock-climbing, swimming, fishing, picnicking, camping, and more.

Proposed plan would open 700,000 acres to logging

In November, the Forest Service made a shocking proposal to open 700,000 acres—or 70%—of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for timber production, which it describes as “the purposeful growing and harvesting of crops of trees to be cut into logs.”

globe_old_growth2These mountain forests are natural treasures that should not be treated as crops for industrial logging. Instead, Wild South advocates that management of these forests should prioritize ecological benefits, like clean water and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation. The economy of Western North Carolina now depends far more on tourism and recreation than on logging—and our communities benefit from the millions of people who visit the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests every year. These  forests are the third most visited national forests in the country—and people come to enjoy the beauty of nature. They don’t come for stumps.

Last fall, over 1,100 people sent their version of Wild South’s message to the Forest Service about logging. That stage of the public process is now complete—but there will be important opportunities for action once the Forest Service releases its draft plan. Sign up for Wild South emails and we’ll keep you posted.

Love the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests? Help make the plan.

In the fall of 2014, the Forest Service released a draft assessment for the forest plan and took public comments. The comment period for the Wilderness Inventory runs through Feb. 27, 2015.  Take action now!

In the spring, the Forest Service will release a proposed plan, along with alternatives. Again, the Forest Service will take public comments, for 90 days, before finalizing the plan.

Wild South tracks every stage of this process and informs a network of over 15,000 citizens—because the public should have a say in public lands. Join our network and we’ll let you know what’s happening and how you can take action.