Asheville coalition rallies against forest plan

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 10:31 PM EDT
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (FOX Carolina) - The U.S. Forest Services released their draft plan for what happens over the next several years with Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest.

It’s the largest national forest in North Carolina, and the Forest Service wants to open it up to more logging, and people aren’t too happy about that plan.

Whatever decision the forest service makes will impact 3 decades of forest management.

“Pisgah National Forest is worth far more standing than logged-down,” said a young rally speaker.

A little music, a little fun, and just over 100 people gathered outside the Forest Service Headquarters in Asheville. It’s the same building where Forest Service leaders will sit down and negotiate a management draft plan for Pisgah National forest.

“Rather than weakening protections, we think they should be strengthening protections and protecting more of Pisgah,” said Will Harlan, I Heart Pisgah Coalition organizer.

Harlan was joined by Ashville mayor Esther Manheimer and several others to speak at the rally against the draft plan on the table.

They say the draft will increase the amount of logging and timber harvesting allowed by thousands of acres, build 300 miles of logging roads through the forest and threaten the trails and views of the Craggy National Scenic areas, one of the most popular spots in the forest.

“Now more than ever, folks love their forests and want to see more of them protected. They’re spending more time outdoors than ever before,” said Harlan.

James Melonas, the North Carolina Forest Supervisor said the decision is a tough balancing act.

“As we work with all the different interests, we’re not always going to agree on everything, but we all love the forest,” said Melonas.

The Forest Service feels their plan works because it allows them to grow younger trees by cutting down old ones, create more scenic attractions and more-easily address any future climate concerns. But the activists say, the risks are too high.

“The best and easiest climate solution is simply to protect the trees and forests,” said Harlan.

To see the Draft plan click here.

For more information on I Heart Pisgah click here.