By Kimber Ray
After the U.S. Forest Service encountered heated public outcry in response to the release of a draft management plan for the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forests this past October, the agency revised its goal of creating a final plan from 2016 to early 2017.
In accordance with a 2012 federal policy, Forest Service officials have sought considerable public input on the 15-year plan to guide future management in these North Carolina forests. This effort backlashed when the agency’s preliminary estimate on where logging could occur was misconstrued by several conservation groups as an indication of how much logging would occur.
Similar skepticism has afflicted the designation of potential wilderness areas, where six county commissions have passed anti-wilderness resolutions — some aim to protect logging areas, while others relate to certain forms of outdoor recreation such as mountain biking and four-wheelers. Yet the Forest Service has not proposed new wilderness areas in any of these counties, a designation of which would require an official act of Congress.
The Forest Service has reached out to three conservation and recreation groups to help foster improved dialogue. Public meetings to discuss the plan are tentatively scheduled for late April and May.
Learn more at 1.usa.gov/11qVQ9I