For Nantahala, Pisgah planning, Forest Service gets input from biking group SORBA

Press release

from the N.C. News Service

For the first time in its history, the U.S. Forest Service is placing greater importance on watershed protection when it comes to long-term planning. In western North Carolina, the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will be two of the first to have their plans revised with the new priorities.

This time, the Forest Service is seeking help from some of the people who use the land for recreation the most, including members of Pisgah SORBA, the local chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association. Chris Strout is president of the group and says he is happy to provide input.

“They’ve got shrinking budgets, they’ve got constraints. You know, what can we offer to the Forest Service in return for the use of our resources that they’re charged with managing?”

The revision of the plan will take about three years, but will provide a blueprint for both forests for the next 15 years. The Nantahala and Pisgah forests cover 1 million acres of Western North Carolina and are among the most-visited national forests in the nation.

Strout says past plans placed a greater emphasis on logging, but this time the Forest Service understands the growing contribution recreation and tourism play in the economies of the forest areas. Timber harvesting has decreased by 65 percent in the past 20 years.

“From a recreation and conservation standpoint, the forest plan going forward will be very different than anything we’ve seen in the past, yet there’s still always going to be timber extraction, there’s still always going to be that side of resource management.”

The last plan for Nantahala and Pisgah was completed in 1987. The Forest Service is seeking input from hikers, conservation groups, hunters and others.

More information is to be found at

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.