The bald granite dome of Looking Glass is a landmark along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The logging is not supposed to be visible from the Parkway but will be visible from the top of Looking Glass, a vista that is popular with hikers.
“This is in the heart of Western North Carolina’s recreation center,” said Chris Joyell, campaign coordinator with the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project. “The forest service is required to protect views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. For those of us who care to venture off the Parkway, it is tough luck for us. Anyone who climbs to the top of Looking Glass Rock will see this proposed logging project staring them in the face.”
Tracy Davids, executive director of the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, called it a double standard.
“Hikers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts deserve the same consideration the forest service affords motorists along the Parkway,” Davids said.
Logging will cover 275 acres, with a mixture of heavy and light logging.
In addition to logging, the forest service will kill non-commercial trees, considered “trash trees” by the forest service, by injecting herbicide into the trunks of trees across 800 acres.
“The herbicide treatment will prepare future forests for logging,” Joyell said. “It will eliminate trees they see as undesireable for their purposes, which are extracting as many board feet from the forests as possible.
Dogwoods, sourwoods and beech are examples of trees that will be injected with the herbicide and killed to make more room for oaks and hickories, which are better timber trees.
“They are managing this forest as a commodity rather than an ecosystem,” Joyell said.
Selling timber to logging companies is considered part of the mission of the national forest service, however.
Looking Glass is located in Transylvania County along U.S. 276 between Waynesville and Brevard. Views from popular hiking trails are also likely to be impacted by the logging project, according to the environmental group.
Western North Carolina Alliance is also urging the forest service to modify the logging proposal to protect views.
— By Becky Johnson