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

Recent developments indicate the Forest Service may be rethinking a plan to open roughly 700,000 acres of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forests to possible industrial-scale logging. (© Bill Lea)

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 bringing thousands of visitors to the area every year. Just last fall the U.S. Forest Service proposed to put all that in jeopardy with a plan to open roughly 700,000 acres of the Pisgah-Nantahala to possible industrial-scale logging.

SELC has been pushing back against managing this special landscape for commercial logging. Although the Forest Service’s original proposal did not dictate the precise amount of logging or the specific locations where it would take place, it would have increased the amount of logging and, even worse, would have allowed logging to expand into more remote corners of the landscape.

Identifying which lands can be logged is a critical part of the forest planning process, during which the Forest Service sets policies for each of its forests for 15 years. SELC has been working to ensure that logging is limited to areas that already have roads, some of which have been damaged by past land uses and can benefit from restoration forestry. Recently the Forest Service has indicated it may revisit the logging proposal and instead work in collaboration with conservation and other stakeholders.

Nearly five million acres of Southern Appalachian national forests stretch from Alabama to Virginia. Protecting them has been at the heart of SELC’s mission from the day we opened our doors in 1986.

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