Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition
Protecting old growth is part of the coalition mission. Within the Southern Appalachian mountains and forests, one can find forest communities and old grow trees that are more than 300 years old. SAFC has taken inventory of the trees. The intention is to protect permanently and conserve the rare forests providing a habitat for a list of species that continues to grow. Harboring important biological, geographical, and climatic links to the part is in the plans.
Over 114,000 acres of old growth forests have been identified. They provide crucial data for the National Forests as plans are made for future recovery and protection of the region’s old growth. The US Forest Service can use the data when developing management plans for the forests of the area. This link provides more information.
The initial draft by the National Forests has the public concerned. They feel current plans will:
- Emphasize commercial development and logging, which includes gas and oil drilling, over watershed and forest protection
- Fail to identify or protect valuable, unique, old growth of the forests in the region
- Allow excessive road-building and logging around and in watersheds, rivers, and streams.
- Be found lacking in restoration of river and stream ecosystems damaged by management in the past
- Fail to improve and protect watershed sources of drinking water
- Open roadless areas to damaging activities such as temporary roads or logging
- Ignore the public views on the forest plans draft.
For more details, read the article linked here.
The Inception of National Forests
About a century ago, signs of destructive logging were beginning to show. National and regional leaders became concerned when over-cut watersheds and large clear-cuts allowed a devastating series of floods and wildfires. Visionary leaders saw the need to recover watersheds and save forests from disastrous logging destruction.
These following entities continue planning and conservation efforts: the National Forests, established in 1911; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, founded in 1934; and the Shenandoah National Park, established in 1935. More information is provided here. Other protection agencies include the Sumter National Forests and Chattooga Conservancy. The SAFC vision for protecting forests surpasses the current level of protection.
Benefits of the Forest
When the forest is healthy, people reap the benefits. Listed here are some of the benefits provided.
- Filtration of sediment and pollutants from the water takes place.
- Annual streams flow steadily and aquifers are replenished.
- Drinking water supplies remain intact.
- Over 100,000 people have recreation-based tourism jobs.
- Retail sales of $296 million are brought in by South Appalachian hunting.
- Private and commercial user fees for the Ocoee River amount to $3 million. That amount includes more than $300,000 in tax revenue.
- Clean air is provided as the forest filters pollutants, provides oxygen, and sequesters atmospheric carbon.
- Forests are links to the past and reassure the future.
Read about other benefits on this link.
In its efforts to link the past and reassure the future, the SAFC has published this document that explains the vision it possesses. Protection and restoration of the Southern Appalachian landscape’s ecosystems, native forests, waters, and wild lands are included. From Alabama to Virginia, local, regional, state, and national organizations are united, by the coalition, to protect public lands and the heritage of the region. The rural countryside, rivers, forests, and mountains are at risk from irresponsible land development, excessive road building, and mismanagement.
The campaigns and vision are intent upon protecting and restoring ecological processes, native species, and lands. Conservation initiatives receive campaign assistance, financial support, scientific analysis, and GIS mapping from the regional headquarters.
There are some restoration projects cloaked in terminology that are more harmful than beneficial. Fuel treatment is one area of concern. There is a difference between fuel treatments necessary for home protection and fuel treatments that restore ecological integrity. Other environmental issues include restoration plans that degrade wildlife habitats, native vegetation, and soils.
The Executive Summary and Healthy Forest Restoration Act links provide more information about the principles. Ecosystem services, climate control, clean water, and pure air are vital to the survival of wildlife and fish and the quality of life. The 2003 Healthy Reforestation Act allows 1,000-acre insect projects to be excluded from environmental review. The act provides no fire protection for communities. It guts the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Wildlife Management” and “Forest Health” are veiled excuses for allowing logging in areas deemed unsuitable. Those terms are open to interpretation. The Forest Service must be told that logging numbers are excessive. Allowable sale quantities need to be lowered. Unsuitable area logging requires precise provisions that eliminate loopholes for the timber industry.
Early succession, that naturally occurs, is not taken into consideration when determining how much logging is needed. There is a one to two percent disturbance that occurs naturally in stable forests every year. Adding unnatural disturbances can create abnormal conditions. Learn more here.
Threatened and Endangered Species
Twenty-five of the federal threatened or endangered vertebrate species are found in the Southern Appalachians. Sixty-eight of them are candidates for the list. Many can be found in no other part of the world.
The mountains escaped glaciations during the Ice Age. Animal and plant life have been harbored for as much as 200 million years beyond other US regions. A group of evolved salamanders remain in the mountains.
Studies indicate the global decline of neotropical migratory songbirds results from US deforestation and Central and South America rain forest destruction. The Southern Forests are crucial to songbird migration flyway and breeding habitat. Road construction and clear cutting pose a threat to the biological diversity of the region. This information is documented in the provided link.
The Appalachians have been the site of many TV programs and movies filming in the Appalachians. Film companies seek the rich images, primordial forests, and scenic backdrop they provide. The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia is a picturesque super-highway that brings millions of visitors to the region each year. Read more about the aesthetic value here.