Front Porch Blog

South Takes the Lead to Protect Wild Forest Land

North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina have become the first states in the nation to request protection of all the wild, roadless national forest land within their borders.

The move was part of a process set in motion by the Bush Administration in 2002. Instead of implementing a Clinton Administration policy that would have protected all roadless national forest lands in the US, the Bush Administration rolled back that policy and required every governor to file their own formal petition that would determine the fate of the federal roadless lands in their state.

According to the Media General News Service,

Three Southern states – Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina – asked the federal government Monday to protect hundreds of thousands of acres in national forests from road construction.

The three states were the first in the nation to ask the Agriculture Department to use a new federal rule that governs whether roads can be built in pristine areas of national forests.

Makes you proud to be a Southerner, doesn’t it?

Here are the details for the three states, according to the Media General News Service:

Virginia is seeking protection for 374,000 acres in the George Washington and Jefferson national forests. That’s 21 percent of the land in George Washington and 9 percent in Jefferson.

“We need to have land available for backcountry recreation, wildlife protection and to protect our water quality,” said Nikki Rovner, Virginia’s deputy secretary for natural resources. “The only place in
Virginia where those characteristics exist is on public land. We are not going to find them on private land.”

“North Carolina faces phenomenal growth pressures, and our opportunity to protect these areas may be limited,” Jennifer Bumgarner, an advisor to Gov. Michael Easley, a Democrat, told the Agriculture Department’s advisory committee on roadless areas.

North Carolina is asking that nearly 174,000 acres in the Pisgah, Nantahala and Croatan National Forests be kept without roads. That amounts to 15 percent of the national forest land in the state.

South Carolina is asking to save the remaining 7,581 acres without roads in Sumter and Francis Marion National Forests.

“This is all the roadless national forest we have in South Carolina,” said South Carolina forest supervisor Jerome Thomas. Forests must have less than a half mile of road for each 1,000 acres to be considered roadless. The rest of the 624,000 acres in the Sumter
and Francis Marion forests already have roads.





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