What is at stake
Without the substantial improvements recommended by the public in its comments on the initial draft, the final plan will:
• Emphasize logging and other commercial development, including oil and gas drilling, over forest and watershed protection. Â The plans would double allowable timber sales over current cut levels in the Jefferson and Sumter National Forests and increase sales in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest by 16%. Â
Current cut level Plans’ allowable sale quantity Jefferson NF 10.5 mmbf 22mmbf Sumter NF 39 mmbf 78.7 mmbf Chattahoochee NF 51 mmbf 61 mmbf Cherokee NF 22.7 mmbf 22 mmbf
• Fail to identify and protect unique and valuable old growth on each forest in the region. Special areas, such as the 175-year-old ridge-top oaks on Kelly Ridge on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia are actually targeted for logging.
|The draft management plans are unclear as to whether they are referring EXISTING, POTENTIAL, OR FUTURE old growth, though the regional guidance was clear about these definitions. Therefore, EXISTING old growth could be placed in the timber base, while already cut over lands are put in “future” old growth.|
|Small patches of old growth are not identified are incorporated into the old growth network.|
|While most of the five forests have very limited Old Growth surveys, they have not recognized the other more complete inventories presented to them by citizen groups|
• Fail to protect steams, rivers, and watersheds by allowing excessive logging and road-building in and around these important water bodies.
For example, those forest that used a drinking water management zone allows logging within this area, even though logging and the associated logging roads are recognized as a major problem for water quality.
|no. of management zones used in the forest||no. of those zones that do not allow logging|
• Fail to restore streams and river ecosystems that have been damaged by past management. The initial plans, for example, failed to remove old dirt roads once used for logging but now muddying waterways.
miles of roads
|no. roads to be built or rebuilt||no. of roads to be removed|
enough miles of roads to get you from Roanoke, VA to Wichita, KS.
less than 20% maintained to standard
enough miles of roads to travel between Atlanta, GA and Santa Fe, NM
currently 20-40 mi/yr
less than 40% maintained to standard
enough road miles to travel between Columbia, SC and Boston, MA
7 mi/yr Â
|enough miles to travel between Memphis, TN and Sheridan, WY|
• Fail to protect or improve watersheds that are sources of drinking water and fail to identify watersheds needing special protection or restoration. In fact, each of the initial draft plans allowed logging or road construction or both in watersheds that supply drinking water to Southern Appalachian communities.
• Open up current roadless areas to damaging activities, including logging and so-called temporary roads. Â The initial plans allowed such activity in 26 % of the roadless areas on the Jefferson National Forest and left 80% of the roadless areas on the Chattahoochee-Oconee without any real protection.
Â“The Forest Service has consistently failed to respond to the public and their strong views on the draft forest plans,Â” said Mark Shelley. Â“Not surprisingly, those plans came nowhere near to adequately protecting our forests and along with them, the recreational areas, watersheds, and drinking water supplies for the millions of people in this region. The Southern Appalachian National Forests deserve more protection, not less, and the Forest Service needs to wake up to that fact before it is too late.Â”
In the past four years there have been two opportunities for the public to comments on the future of their National Forests. The first time was during the roadless rule. These management plans are the second.
|comments asking for more protection through management plans||comments asking for roadless protection during roadless rule|