Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests input meeting

A public input meeting that will help shape the future of the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 17 in Franklin at the Nantahala Ranger District Office.

It is one of several held it the region over the past month as part of the ongoing development of a master plan to guide the management of the national forests. The meetings were previously scheduled for October but were postponed due to the federal government shutdown.

The four-year process will analyze a wide spectrum of national forest issues, including every form of recreation imaginable, ecological integrity, scenic and cultural values, logging, environmental threats and wilderness area designations.

Public input is being invited to help shape these management strategies for the forests over the next 15 years.

The current round of public input meetings will delve into aspects of the current forest management plan that should change. Some examples offered by the forest service based on stakeholder input to date are:

• How should large mountain bike festivals in the forests be managed?

• Logging in national forests has been dramatically curtailed — has it been curtailed too much?

• In light of burgeoning outdoor recreation, how should conflicts between competing forms of recreation be handled?

• Are trails being properly maintained?

• Should the forest service take a more active role in protecting rare ecosystems, like balds and bogs?

• Should new wilderness areas be designated?

The last forest plan was finalized in 1987. But there are new issues now that weren’t around then. Climate change, the advent of cell towers and wind turbines, the reintroduction of elk in the landscape or even new types of recreation like geocacheing. All these will need to be wrapped into the new forest plan as well.

To read the report, and all about the forest plan process, go to www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfsnc/nprevision.

The Nantahala Ranger district office is located at 90 Sloan Road outside Franklin.

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