- 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 protection. The plan offers protection for nine additional rivers by recognizing them as eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation, for a total of 18, but it left out 35 eligible streams.
- The plan does not provide any buffers or protections for ephemeral streams.
- The plan allows logging on steep slopes.
- The plan authorizes the construction of 300 miles of additional logging roads, the largest contributor to sedimentation, pollution, and pesticide runoff into rivers and trout streams.
- The plan fails to address erosion and sedimentation of streams from its existing road network and backlog of road maintenance.
- Timber harvests require substantial increases in herbicide applications.
- No rare and endangered aquatic species receive any additional protections in the final plan.
- The final plan claims that quadrupling timber harvests, substantially increasing accompanying pesticide applications, and constructing 300 miles of logging roads will have no impact on rivers and streams or the hundreds of rare species that depend on them.
- The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is a freshwater biodiversity hotspot that is home to some of the most rare fish, mussels, and salamanders in the world. The plan provides no specific protections for these species.
- The Forest Service does not plan to measure the impacts of increased herbicide use on water, wildlife or human health.
- The Forest Plan’s proposed buffer zones for rivers and streams are smaller and weaker than buffer zones in other neighboring national forests.
Protected Areas: F
The plan fails to protect over 101,000 acres of most important conservation and recreation hotspots. More than 62% of the most popular forest in the country is in highest priority logging designations.