Front Porch Blog

Round Mountain Timber Sale, Redux

Virginia Forest Watch stopped this sale once. Now we need your help to do it again.

Your comments are needed to stop an extensive LOGGING and ROADBUILDING project in the Jefferson National Forest in Bland
County. Comments are needed by approximately April 26, ’06.

The project is located on aptly named “Round” Mountain, a 3592 ft. mountain on the eastern wing of Garden Mountain. In 1987, Dr. Richard Hoffman described the 5×8 mile bowl called Burkes Garden as the ” most interesting single natural area in Virginia.” Adjacent Round Mtn is not as well known, but contains extensive tracts of intact forest and old growth forests on its north side.

In 2005, Virginia Forest Watch forced the Forest Service to halt the project because the Forest Service failed to properly examine the impacts of converting numerous antiquated woods roads on the mountain to modern logging roads. Now the Forest Service has revived the project with little improvement.

The logging and roadbuilding project should not go forward.

Comment points –

– The proposed project involves extensive roadbuilding (construction of 2.5 miles of roads plus additional skid trails), logging (102 acres), and so-called “oak enhancement” (447 acres), a silvicultural treatment (habitat manipulation) which simulates logging over a large area. The Forest Service should carefully monitor the impact and
effectiveness of the large-scale non-commercial “oak enhancement” treatment on oaks, other tree species, wildlife, native plants, soils, waterways and other resources, since this is a relatively new treatment that has not yet been studied over a large portion of the New River Valley Ranger District.

– Many of the logging units and oak enhancement treatments are planned in a significant 4,869 acre tract of forest on the north side of Round Mountain; and adjoining or near several extensive old growth forest tracts recognized by the Forest Service.

– Wolf Creek, downstream, is a state-listed impaired waterway. The Wolf Creek watershed is also listed a Forest Service designated
Priority Watershed, due to several unique aquatic species found in the watershed. Priority watersheds are watersheds “where forest management activities may make a difference.” (Jefferson National Forest Plan 2-2 to 3).” Forest Service stream surveys indicate that many of the tributaries of Wolf Creek that originate in the logging project area are already in “very poor” or “poor/fair” condition and/or are “extremely acid sensitive.” Logging and skidding could further damage Wolf Creek and its tributaries.

– Logging and roadbuilding here will damage mature and old growth forests, unfragmented forests, soils, watersheds, recreation, and scenic values. Previous logging projects on the mountain (for example, the East Round Mountain project in the 1990s) have already had negative impacts on many of these resources. There is no need for further logging on Round Mountain.

As part of this project, the Forest Service proposes planting blight-resistant American chestnut seedlings in the even-aged logging units should such seedlings come available in the future.
We think planting chestnuts is an excellent idea, but we ask the Forest Service to
consider an alternative calling for the planting of chestnut seedlings in old roadbeds and previous cutting units INSTEAD OF creating newly logged sites. This will allow these old
sites to heal. Many of the old roads proposed for road reconstruction are old roads dating to the 1930s and 1940s, or are illegal roads. As such, they may be far less heavily compacted than modern Forest Service roads and, once examined by the agency, may be determined to be good sites for American chestnut restoration. We encourage planting chestnuts on these sites.

– [Please add additional concerns if you have any additional personal concerns about the project.]

Send comments to: Cynthia Schiffer, District Ranger, New River Valley Ranger District, 110 Southpark Drive, Blacksburg, Va. 24060.
Official comments must be postmarked by approximately April 26, ’06 – comments are not as effective after this date, but please write to express your concern even if you miss the deadline! They need to hear from us! Please make other public officials aware of the project, for example, US Congressman Rick Boucher or local officials, as appropriate.

Virginia Forest Watch




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