In February, the U.S. Forest Service released its draft 15-year plan and draft environmental impact statement for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in North Carolina. A 90-day public comment period runs from Feb. 14 to May 14.
This is the first time that the agency has allowed public participation during the planning stages of a forest management plan. The process began in 2012. Public feedback was robust and at times contentious, and the Forest Service extended their timeline to incorporate comments from individuals and groups.
The plan is divided into four alternatives, one being the status quo. Each strikes a different balance between recreational options, logging, preserving cultural resources and protecting species and water quality. For example, the alternatives set aside different places and overall acreage for wilderness preservation and for logging, and have different goals for trail and road construction and maintenance.
Two of the three new proposed alternatives increase the acreage deemed suitable for timber harvest, but deeper analysis was not available at press time.
March 10, 5:30-8:30 pm:
Foothills Conference Center, Morganton, N.C.
March 12, 5:30-8:30 pm:
NC Arboretum Education Center, Asheville, N.C. (Parking fee is waived.)
March 16, 5:30-8:30 pm:
Brevard Library, Brevard, N.C.
March 19, 5:30-8:30 pm:
Brasstown Community Center, Brasstown, N.C.
March 24, 5:30-8:30 pm:
First Presbyterian Church, Franklin, N.C.
March 26, 5:30-8:30 pm:
Bentley Fellowship Hall, Mars Hill, N.C.