Protecting Our Southern Appalachian National Forests

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SELC and partners blast Forest Service proposal to gut NEPA

The U.S. Forest Service proposed sweeping policy changes in June that would eliminate environmental review and public involvement for most of its decisions, prompting SELC and partner groups to submit formal opposition this week. In comments to the...

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U.S. Forest Service proposes to cut more trees by cutting public input

Last week, the U.S. Forest Service proposed sweeping policy changes that would eliminate environmental review and public involvement for most Forest Service decisions, including logging projects, road construction, and pipelines. The proposed rule i...

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U.S. Forest Service Proposes to Chop More Trees and Cut Public Input

WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. Forest Service released a proposed rule today with significant changes to the agency’s process for considering and accepting public input, including a new loophole for commercial logging that would allow up to 4,200-acres...

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Far-reaching public lands bill reauthorizes Land and Water Conservation Fund

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress passed and President Donald Trump recently signed the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, far-reaching conservation legislation that designates more than 1 million acres of new...

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After 3 years of negotiation, Forest Service compromises on timber project

The U.S. Forest Service has significantly scaled back its proposal to log nearly 1,500 acres of forest around High Knob and Pickem Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest. This follows negotiations with conservation groups that strongly objected to...

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Study: Southerners love — and want more — wilderness

According to a study by researchers at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, residents that spend time exploring outdoor areas and live within half-a-day’s drive of Southern Appalachian national forests are ove...

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Department of Interior launches stealth attack on transparency

On December 28 — in the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s and in the midst of a government shutdown — the Department of the Interior submitted a proposal to weaken its response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Today SELC...

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New federal funds foster engagement in management of public forests

Although the news was overshadowed by the government shutdown, Congress got something important done before wrapping up in December. With passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) budget was reautho...

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Public cut from public lands under Trump order

In the midst of all the turmoil in Washington, D.C., one recent move by President Donald Trump has slipped largely under the radar. Just before the Christmas holiday and on the eve of the government shutdown, Trump signed an executive order to increa...

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U.S. Forest Service considers rule change to speed up oil, gas drilling on national forests

The U.S. Forest Service has given advance notice that it wants to revise its regulations for oil and gas drilling on national forest land. The proposed rulemaking would “streamline” the Forest Service’s environmental review and permitting process – a...

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Suit voluntarily dismissed after timber sale cancelled by Cherokee National Forest

Earlier today, SELC, on behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, with Knoxville attorney Shelby Ward, on behalf of Heartwood and Tennessee Heartwood, voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit previously filed in federal court alleging that the Unite...

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SELC sues for information on secret public lands overhaul

As numerous signs suggest a potential shakeup in how the nation’s public lands are overseen, SELC is suing for access to public information about government plans. In a suit filed today, SELC charged the Office of Management and Budget with failing t...

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Farm Bill would weaken logging protections and curtail public input

The U.S. House of Representatives is once again considering legislation that would bypass public involvement or consideration negative impacts from logging on public lands. The Farm Bill forestry provisions largely mirror those in the Resilient Fore...

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Hugh Irwin recognized for lifetime of service to Southern forests

Hugh Irwin’s tireless dedication and determination in protecting southern forests over more than three decades of work have shaped our landscape. SELC recently recognized his immeasurable impact on the Southern Appalachian mountains with its Southeas...

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Conservation groups file suit over timber sale shrouded in Forest Service secrecy

A recent suit filed by SELC and partners alleges the U.S. Forest Service is illegally endangering the soil, forests, and waters of the Cherokee National Forest and hiding those risks from the public. At stake is Tumbling Creek, a cold-water trout st...

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SELC: Congress Passes Bill Proposing to Treat Southeastern National Forests as Mere Crops

Washington, D.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) released the following statement on the so-called “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017” (H.R. 2936). The legislation, which passed in the House late Wednesday, proposes to create...

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U.S. House passes bill proposing to treat Southeastern National Forests as crops

Late Wednesday, the House voted on and passed the so-called “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017” (H.R. 2936). The legislation proposes to create massive categorical exclusions (CEs) to allow tens of thousands of acres—15 to 45 square miles—of...

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Additions proposed for two Virginia Wilderness Areas

Senator Tim Kaine introduced a bill last week, the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act of 2017, co-sponsored by Senator Mark Warner, that would protect an additional 5,600 acres of the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. {image1} The bill...

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Celebrate National Public Lands Day

Each year, National Public Lands Day provides a chance to reflect on the key role these special public spaces play in American lives. One of the exceptional public places on that list is the Cumberland Plateau, which runs through eastern Tennessee...

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Debilitating federal budget cuts back on the table

In the proposed federal budget released today, the Trump administration recommends crippling cuts to essential federal protections in many areas, though few are as extreme as what is proposed for the Environmental Protection Agency. If Congress was...

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President dismantles stream protections, threatening drinking water for Southeasterners, nation

Today President Donald Trump signed into law a repeal of the Stream Protection Rule, dismantling key protections that help keep our drinking water safe from coal pollution. The President’s signature on this bill marks the first anti-environmental...

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Grant awards over $500,000 for collaborative work in George Washington National Forest

Environmental restoration work in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest got a boost this month thanks to newly announced federal grant funds. Developed in a two and half year public collaborative process, the Lower Cowpasture Restoration and...

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Shared love of Shenandoah Mountain unites community

SELC has long supported collaborative processes involving a wide range of stakeholders to develop forest management plans. Recently, the public television series This American Land featured the Shenandoah Mountain area, which lies in the heart of...

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Logging Southern forests won’t fight wildfires in the West

As Congress prepares to wrap up its business for 2016, supporters of legislation to expedite logging on national forests, including dropping protections for thousands of acres of Southeastern forests, hope to slip their dangerous bill into unrelated...

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National Forests expert, Senior Attorney Sarah Francisco named Director of Virginia Office

SELC has named longtime attorney Sarah Francisco as our new Virginia Office director who will lead this organization’s legal and policy work throughout the state. A senior attorney at SELC, Francisco joined the organization 15 years ago, first as a...

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Locals urge Forest Service to keep western North Carolina wild

Wild places will always tug at our heartstrings. But there’s more than sentimental value to the land we protect as wilderness: these lands harbor rare stands of old growth forest, protect pristine water quality, and provide important habitats for...

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U.S. Forest Service reaches next phase of wilderness evaluation for N.C.’s Nantahala, Pisgah

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests’ wilderness evaluation is now available to the public. This evaluation of National Forest land follows on the heels of last year’s wilderness inventory, for which SELC provided extensive input. The...

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Southeast Opposition Mounts as Senate Considers Proposal Tying Western Wildfire Funding to Logging

Washington, D.C.— Today the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee held a hearing on long-needed Congressional efforts to stabilize funding for wildfire suppression in the Western United States. Yet many conservation groups voiced...

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Protections for Southeastern forests on Senate committee chopping block

Today the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee will hear testimony on long-needed Congressional efforts to stabilize funding for wildfire suppression in the Western United States. The problem is the wildfire funding may come with...

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SELC, partners call for improvements to proposed timber sale near Georgia’s Cooper Creek

SELC and our partners are raising concerns about the U.S. Forest Service’s latest proposal for an enormous timber sale in and around northern Georgia’s Cooper Creek watershed. Of particular concern is the alarming change the Cooper Creek proposal...

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Conservation Groups Call for Improvements to Proposed Cooper Creek Timber Sale

Blairsville, GA—Conservation groups have raised concerns with the U.S. Forest Service’s latest proposal for an enormous timber sale in and around the Cooper Creek watershed, near the Cooper Creek recreation area in Union County, located in the Blue...

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Added protections included in Chattahoochee National Forest timber sale

Working closely with Georgia ForestWatch, as well as with the Sierra Club, SELC has secured major improvements to a large-scale logging and forest management project in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, in the watershed of Warwoman Creek. Our...

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Findings reinforce importance of land protection to biodiversity in the Southeast

A study published in the most recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identifies the U.S. Southeast as the key area for national protection of species biodiversity. Biodiversity is an important indicator of an ecosystem's resiliency....

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SELC working to keep logging out of Pisgah-Nantahala’s backcountry

Together the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests comprise just over a million acres surrounding Asheville, North Carolina. Offering stunning landscapes and backcountry recreation, these public lands serve as a major driver of the local economy by...

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Conservation Groups Support Forest Service Decision to Keep GW Off Limits to Gas Drilling & Fracking

Charlottesville, VA – Local conservation and community groups expressed support for today’s decision from the U.S. Forest Service to make the George Washington National Forest (GW) unavailable for oil and gas drilling, except for a small portion of...

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U.S. Forest Service Proposes Opening Most of the Popular Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest to Logging

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—In what conservation groups flag as a dramatic shift, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing industrial-scale logging in the vast majority of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina – about 700,000 acres, or an...

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Tennessee’s Wilderness Act Turns 50

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which SELC has used to save some of the wildest places in the Southern Appalachians. Wilderness designation requires an act of Congress and affords the strongest protection possible for...

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Conservation Groups Reach Agreement with Forest Service on Logging at Courthouse Creek

Conservation groups reached an agreement with the Forest Service that will allow the agency to move forward with the controversial Courthouse Creek timber sale.  The agreement reduces the size of the timber sale, removing logging from significant...

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Conservation Groups Appeal Decision to Log Courthouse Creek

Conservation groups have appealed a US Forest Service decision to log high value forest below the popular Devil’s Courthouse mountain in western North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. The Southern Environmental Law Center filed an administrative...

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Groups Challenge Timber Sale Near Lake Keokee

A proposed timber sale near Lake Keokee in the Jefferson National Forest would cause soil erosion, harm water quality, and degrade mature forest habitat and the significant scenic and recreation values of the area, conservation groups said in an...

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Conservation Groups and Forest Service Reach Agreement to Protect Old Growth Forest in Macon County

Conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service have reached an agreement that protects an area of rare old-growth forest from logging near Franklin in the Nantahala National Forest. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) had appealed the...

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Forest Service, Environmentalists Reach Accord After Years-Long Timber Fight in North Carolina

Additional contacts: Bob Gale, Ecologist, Western North Carolina Alliance, 828-258-8737 Dave Wilson, Director of Stewardship Services, National Wild Turkey Federation, 803-637-7515 Asheville, NC - After years of debate, the U.S. Forest Service and...

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Prime Wildlife Habitat in Tennessee Spared under Agreement Between Conservation Groups and U.S. Fore

Conservation groups have withdrawn their challenge of a large timber sale that the U.S. Forest Service was planning in the north section of the Cherokee National Forest after reaching an agreement (pdf) with the agency sparing the most vulnerable...

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SELC applauds introduction of forest-protection bill in Congress

Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia and Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, along with 17 members of the Southeast's congressional delegation (see below) are joining more than 150 colleagues from across the country and from both sides of...

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