U.S. Forest Service rangers got an earful from Swain County residents last week during a public hearing regarding the proposed Forest Management Plan.
Just north of Cullowhee, at the curvy, gravel terminus of Cane Creek Road, sits the building containing the world’s largest wilderness medicine classroom.
Landmark Learning, a nationally accredited school offering a variety of courses in wilderness medicine, started using the building in May, though there’s still heavy equipment in view as fine-tuning continues. The 8,000-square-foot building contains a 2,400-square-foot classroom, a commercial kitchen, and a student lounge. Up an even steeper hill than the one that leads to the main building is a pair of dorm-style cabins and a terraced camping area, which together can accommodate 36 people.
Well it seems there was one and I’m sure it could have been my fault. Smoky Mountain News reporter Holly Kays called me Wednesday morning — Oct. 12 — to ask me what I thought of Haywood County commissioners’ latest resolution regarding wilderness designation in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests. I told her I didn’t know, as I hadn’t seen the resolution. I told her I had a copy on my computer but that I hadn’t looked at it.
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.”
Big and wild can’t be big and wild if your mind and heart are small.
A “real” public meeting — as in announced and on the docket — took place in Asheville on Sept. 20 as Buncombe County Commissioners listened to pros and cons regarding the proposed Craggies Wilderness Area and Big Ivy. The result was a resounding success for the local “Friends of Big Ivy” group and a diverse assemblage of environmental groups and local citizens who love “their” wilderness.
A meeting to talk about wilderness started off with a bang last week when a group of pro-wilderness folks who had showed up hopeful of putting a bug in Congressman Mark Meadows’, R-Cashiers, ear were asked to leave.
In a 12-round heavyweight professional boxing match, at the beginning of the twelfth round there is a bell and the referee motions the two fighters to the center of the ring to begin the final round of the contest. In the fight for life on the planet Earth, and according to a majority of noted scientists, we are in the twelfth round. And Pulitzer-winning biologist E. O. Wilson is the referee.
By Brent Martin • Guest Columnist
Setting aside a modest portion of the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest as Wilderness and National Recreation Areas (NRAs) would deliver huge benefits for a wide variety of user groups and for our local economy. So it is baffling to witness county after county in western North Carolina passing resolutions opposing the idea.
Macon County commissioners maintained their stance against creating more wilderness areas in the county despite The Wilderness Society’s attempt to change their minds.