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'Friends of Big Ivy' work to protect wilderness area

Asheville City Council unanimously approved a resolution recommending the Big Ivy/Craggy Mountain area be designated a wilderness area by Congress.  (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The effort to keep part of Pisgah National Forest from development gets support from Asheville city leaders.

City council unanimously approved a resolution recommending the Big Ivy/Craggy Mountain area be designated a wilderness area by Congress.

"Big Ivy is too special," said Will Harlan, a nearby resident and founding member of the nonprofit Friends of Big Ivy. "It's an old-growth forest, 4000 acres of old growth, 40 rare and endangered species. It's a recreation hub. This just wasn't the place for logging."

Harlan and several other area residents formed the nonprofit Friends of Big Ivy three years ago, he says, after the US forest service announced plans to log about 4000 of Big Ivy's 14,000 acres.

But despite a recent resolution from Buncombe County commissioners calling for Craggy Mountain and Big Ivy's protection, Harlan says the Forest Service's plans for logging part of it continued.

"They didn't listen to the Buncombe County Community. They really didn't listen to the Buncombe County Commission. Maybe they will respond to Asheville, the largest city in the Pisgah-Nantahala footprint."

U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Tim Sloane says the Forest Service does take all public input seriously.

"We take everything seriously, as far as the comments and concerns we get from the public," says Sloane. But, he adds, the Forest Service is developing its own forest plan.

"We are working with our stakeholders, our partners, and the general public and our own natural resource specialist and professional as we develop this plan."

As far as the resolution to designate Craggy Mountain/Big Ivy a wilderness area,permanently protected from development?

"Ultimately it's up to the Congress whether or not an area becomes a wilderness area or not," Sloane says.

The forest plan is scheduled to be completed during summer 2019.

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