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Wednesday, 16 January 2013 00:00

Devil’s Courthouse logging proposal criticized by environmental groups

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out devilscourtProposed logging below Devil’s Courthouse in the Pisgah National Forest is being widely decried among outdoor recreation groups and environmental advocates.

The towering rock spire of Devil’s Courthouse is one of the most popular and best overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway, straddling Haywood and Transylvania counties. The proposed logging would be visible from the top as well as impact popular hiking and biking trails.

On top of impacting views and recreation, environmental groups claim endangered species could also be hurt by the logging.

The forest service has attempted to dispel false visions of clearcut slopes below Devil’s Courthouse, however. Logging would be done on 472 acres — a small part of the more than 7,000-acre area on the southern slopes of the Parkway in Transylvania County.

It would only consist of selective thinning, not clear-cutting. Thinning means loggers cut only large trees, leaving behind small and medium trees, which then have more room to grow. Oak trees in particular will be spared and allowed to grow bigger. Pockets of “young forest” within a more mature forest can also benefit certain species of wildlife.

The selective logging is only one part of the overall forestry restoration of the area. The proposal also calls for:

• Restoring native brook trout.

• Removing invasive plant species.

• Designating 127 new acres as official “old growth forest,” which protects it from ever being cut in the future.

• Plant hybrid American Chestnut trees as part of long-range effort to return chestnut to Southern Appalachian forests.

But the prospect of logging at all in this high-use recreation area and Parkway viewshed is being adamantly protested. Send public comments by Jan. 18 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Read the entire proposal at www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=36287.

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