While a draft forest management plan is still nearly a year away, a group of recently released documents gives a glimpse into how the U.S. Forest Service might ultimately manage the 1.2 million acres in the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest over the next 20 years.
Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins was headed to church Sunday morning, Oct. 23, when he got the call. A forest fire had ignited the Dicks Creek area of the Nantahala National Forest, near Sylva. Fire Management Officer Greg Brooks was already on the scene, and the response had to start ASAP.
“I was walking out the door, literally on the porch,” Wilkins said. He turned himself around, changed out of his Sunday best and drove out to meet Brooks, sizing up the challenge set before them.
When the forest planning process for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests kicked off more than two years ago, it didn’t take long for the question of wilderness designation — whether and how much more acreage should be recommended, which areas should make the cut — to rise to the top of the stack of contentious issues.
Congressman Mark Meadows (R-Cashiers) and a room of 30 wilderness supporters spent two hours discussing everything from ecology to U.S. Forest Service road budgets last week at the Haywood County Historic Courthouse with the goal of better understanding each other’s views on the purpose of wilderness designation.
“I will read everything you send me. I’m going to ask you questions,” Meadows promised as he closed out the meeting. “I’m trying to be as informed as I can.”
The timeline for a draft forest management plan has been kicked back once more, with the document now expected sometime at the very end of 2016.
A purchase of 48 acres adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest and the Highlands of Roan by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy saved the tract from development.
By Bill Lea • Guest Columnist
In the article about the bear dogs attacking a camper’s dogs (www.smokymountainnews.com/outdoors/item/14952), Wallace Messer (a bear hunter whose dogs were not involved in the attack) begins by suggesting the blame for the attack should perhaps be placed on the victims — a strategy used time after time by defense attorneys and their defendants pleading innocence. Even if Kadie Anderson’s dogs had growled as a natural reaction to protect their owner — which Kadie vehemently denies happened — that does not justify being attacked by a pack of a dozen dogs. A forest user and her pets’ well-being were still jeopardized. The bear hunting dog owners should be held accountable just like any other dog owner would be in the exact same situation. Why should any small group of dog owners be given special status with a law that protects only them when every other dog owner in the state would be held liable?
Kadie Anderson was packing up camp after a night in the backcountry with her two Australian shepherds when the peace of an autumn forest waking up from a nighttime rain was decisively broken.
“A pack of hunting dogs came into the camp and attacked my dogs, almost killed my dogs, bit me a couple of times while I was trying to protect them,” recalled Anderson, an Ohio resident who at the time was camping in the Snowbird Wilderness Area in Nantahala National Forest.
By Bill McLarney • Guest Columnist
We humans are highly skilled and devilishly clever. We can create ball fields, schools, prisons, highways, airports, strip malls, industrial parks, reservoir lakes, landfills, farms of all kinds, Superfund sites, babies and sustainably managed timber lands — the list goes on. One of the few imaginable things we can’t make is what has come to be called wilderness. So just maybe we shouldn’t destroy a whole lot more of it.
When Brent Martin emerged from the Forest Management Plan meeting in Franklin, the first glimpse into the direction that management in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests might take over the next few decades, he was upset. Shocked. Disbelieving, even.