Forest Service proposed plan drawing criticism

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

A controversial project that would reportedly leave more than 70-percent of Western North Carolina forests open to logging has numerous groups up in arms.

Thursday in Asheville, a rally was held outside the Forest Service Office where around 30 environmental groups gathered to discuss concerns about the plan.

The Forest Service proposal would reportedly impact 400 acres in the headwaters of the Chattooga Wild Scenic River in Jackson and Macon Counties.

Thursday’s meeting was designed so Forest Service staff and Environmental Forest Preservation leaders could address one another directly. Topics raised included debating if proposed forest burns, road building and cutting of old growth is too aggressive

"It's important that the Forest Service realize not every possible project in heritage area is beneficial. And there are risks with timber harvest in this area that can degrade areas," said Josh Kelly of Mountain True.

Members of the group the Chattooga Conservancy say they are objecting to the quote "ecological restoration project" they say will clear rare forest areas.

Forest service officials respectfully disagreed stating forest burns and maintenance projects like this are essential to reduce risks for fires to control what are called fuels old dying trees.

The Forest Service says clearing the old forest will also make way for better living and eating areas for forest wildlife from bears to turkeys.

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