The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Plan decides how much of the forest is logged and how much is protected. This blueprint will guide the next 30 years of forest management. What does the plan say? We have distilled thousands of pages of documents into a report card that grades the plan and summarizes the 10 main issues.
The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Plan quadruples logging in the country’s most popular national forest while reducing protections for its most important recreation and conservation areas.
Here’s The Cheat Sheet
The plan fails to protect over 101,000 acres of most important conservation and recreation hotspots. More than half of the most popular forest in the country is in highest priority logging designations. The plan places 44,000 of acres of old-growth forests in highest priority logging designations. More than 65,000 acres
The Forest Scenic Area designation for part of Craggy provides key support for the proposed Craggy National Scenic Area, and the final plan included an additional 700 acres. However, the plan places approximately 3,000 acres in the highest priority logging designations. Over 1,500 acres of old-growth in Craggy are placed
The plan quadruples timber harvests and authorizes 300 miles of new roads, but the Forest Service claims that increased logging and road building will have no impacts on rare and endangered species. The plan could have protected State Natural Heritage Areas, which shelter more than 70% of rare and
The plan authorizes cutting over 44,000 acres of existing designated old-growth forests. Over a quarter-million acres of mature forests that are approaching old-growth status are placed in logging-priority designations. Twenty percent of the highest-priority logging lands contain known, inventoried old-growth forests. The plan opens half of the forest to logging.
Logging is planned in the A.T. National Scenic Trail Corridor and protections for the trail are weakened. Logging is planned for the National Historic Trail of Tears corridor and on a sacred Cherokee village site. Parts of the Mountains to Sea Trail—North Carolina’s state trail—are placed in highest priority logging
The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are headwaters for seven major river systems providing drinking water for millions. The final plan proposes fewer and weaker protections for its rivers and streams than any other national forest in Southern Appalachia. Only one-third of eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers were recommended for
The Plan’s Wilderness Inventory identified 350,000 acres, but the Forest Service recommended protecting only 49,000 acres—less than 14%. More 100,000 acres of Wilderness Inventoried Areas are placed in highest-priority logging designations. The plan recommends the least possible amount of wilderness among all of its alternatives. The plan removes one current
The plan will quadruple timber harvests in the country’s most popular national forest. The plan places half of the forest in logging-priority designations. The plan targets 65,000 acres of Natural Heritage Areas, the most biologically diverse parts of the forest. The plan allows logging on steep slopes, which will result
The U.S. Forest Service is the manager of the largest stock of carbon-storage forests in the country. Yet the climate and carbon-storage benefits of mature, intact forests are not included in any of the plan’s decision-making. Increased timber harvests are prioritized over the climate and ecological benefits of mature, intact
The forest planning process failed to adequately include the input of youth, who will be affected most by this 30-year plan. The Forest Service is currently planning a commercial timber harvest in the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Corridor and on the site of a historic Cherokee village. The
The final plan is an epic fail. It has already received widespread public, political, and community opposition. the final plan sentences the forest to decades of conflict, litigation, and community resistance. Fortunately, the solution is simple: prioritize conservation and recreation in the country’s most popular national forest. Specifically, here are
Areas in Panthertown are best suited for Special Interest Area and Backcountry Management Area designations. The areas in Panthertown proposed in the draft Forest Plan as Matrix should instead be managed as Backcountry, while the core of Panthertown should remain as a Special Interest Area. The Forest Plan should prioritize