On March 19, three environmental groups reached an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service regarding the Nettle Patch timber sale in Jefferson National Forest.
Under the agreement, the agency dropped its plans to log Pickem Mountain and reduced commercial timbering from a proposed 1,419 acres to 577 acres. The Forest Service also cancelled the project’s use of prescribed fire and agreed to other measures to protect water quality, including conducting thorough reviews of future logging roads.
“The Forest Service’s agreement to not log on Pickem Mountain was critical to protecting these incredibly special areas,” Southern Environmental Law Center Attorney Kristin Davis commented in a press statement.
The agency issued the proposal for the High Knob section of the forest’s Clinch Ranger District in 2016. Local grassroots organization The Clinch Coalition, nonprofit law firm Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club had opposed the original plan. The groups cited concerns about erosion, flooding, water quality, species diversity, recreation and more. But after years of engagement with the Forest Service and months of settlement negotiation, the groups’ objections were resolved.
“We very much appreciate that the Forest Service took time to meet with us, listen to our members’ concerns and make changes to their plans accordingly,” Wally Smith, vice president of The Clinch Coalition, said in the statement.