Letter: Promote trees, not roads, in our national forests

Graphic by Lori Deaton

A new land management plan for Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, finalized by the U.S. Forest Service in February, includes a sharp increase in logging, opening up almost half of its 1 million acres of forests to logging, including 44,000 acres of old-growth forest [avl.mx/cim].

This forest management plan was supposed to be a framework for long-term sustainability of our national forests and carbon storage but instead puts wildlife habitats and old-growth areas at an increased risk, catering to new roads that will increase water pollution and habitat fragmentation.

Imagine if humans could live hundreds of years and only get stronger. If, as each day passes, we not only experience more life, but we develop the ability to protect more life. A world in which ageism is flipped on its head because our oldest and wisest humans are also our protectors and saviors.

Now replace this vision of strong, aging humans and look out your window. Imagine (or if you’re lucky, acknowledge) that the biggest tree outside of your window is 200 years old and that it is making your family comfortable by shielding you from extreme weather such as heat and flooding. It is also cleaning your air by using sun and water, through a process called photosynthesis, to suck the carbon dioxide that you exhale, a greenhouse gas, and trap heat back into the earth to insulate your family and all humans from a warming planet.

If we take a moment and consider this backyard as a larger vision of the world, where huge, old trees in Pisgah and Nantahala national forests were left alone to protect our climate and build biodiverse communities, we can change the human world and make it comfortable for our own human family to live comfortably on this planet for centuries to come. If humans stop logging wood (which releases carbon dioxide that was safely stored) for our own purposes (to make room for roads, and provide us with energy, fuel, paper) and we invest in the power of nature, we can live to see what new human generations are capable of. And we can live on this planet as proud participants of a biodiverse Earth.

For those of us who love the mountains of Western North Carolina, let’s all start talking the talk and walking the walk of working together. Call your senators and representatives and tell them to leave our natural forests alone so they can grow old. Tell your senators and representatives to fund alternatives to human living that don’t include logging and to edit the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Plan to preserve old growth. And finally, talk to your friends and family to build this simple vision. Let our forests live, and we can all live, too. Simple as that.

— Carrie Pettler


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8 thoughts on “Letter: Promote trees, not roads, in our national forests

  1. Voirdire

    thanks for this. And not only are our mature hardwood forests here in WNC carbon sinks as respirators of carbon dioxide, they are also every bit as importantly, aspirators that release billions of gallons of H20 as unseen mist/ humidity into the atmosphere on a daily -albeit seasonal- basis ..which then cools in the atmosphere, which that then creates localized rain. Without this life giving cycle that only large intact mature forests create.. you invariably go from a greener woodland ecosystem to a browner drier savanna ecosystem ..and from there to eventually the only other major ecosystem on our planet.. desert. Here in WNC, and the entirety of east coast of the US, it might not look like a savanna quite yet ( ..that’s entirely dependent on rain from larger, but more random and less frequent atmospheric river events) ..but the lack of fresh water in the form of regionally aspirated rain from intact native forests inevitably becomes apparent. Just look at what the entirety of the European mainland continent suffered last summer… major rivers that had been navigable for centuries simply dried up. It’s that simple… and inevitable.

  2. Jerry Hinz

    I’m not sure of your expertise in Forest management– the Forests were established to provide for all of us- for as many of our needs as
    can be obtained within environmental standards .
    That includes many activities getting a slice of the pie– The Forest is NOT– the Park Service.
    The forest is not locked away but some of the Forest is Wilderness and there are special rules to protect those areas.
    There can be logging- can be mining- and other commercial uses- A great amount of the forest is Recreation– trails- rec areas-
    overlooks – swimming – boating- fishing- camping…hunting – snowmobiling- sometimes cabins- skiing – etc–..etc..
    All these uses need to try and strike a balance with the ecology- have a low level of impact – but the impact on the ecology
    may not be “0”. You may “love” trees– but the experts do know how to manage the forests. Cutting is one way to
    not only have a product to make tables and chairs we all want.. it provides jobs- but also encourages new growth- regeneration
    and actually aids wildlife- ( we’d like more birds and animals ) Animals and birds- can use open areas for the regrowth there- sprouts- grasses- berries
    and “Fringe Areas” establish also for Forage and cleared areas have ” Hide” areas for the animals to run to when feeling threatened.
    Forest Land is ” for us all” and – managed for us all. It is not all about the trees — Old Growth is appropriate for Wilderness and special areas.
    But having it for the entire Forest would be not be considering all the opportunities. This Forest was established to provide for us within reason.
    To lock it up would be a big mistake. – and against the reason that FORESTS were established in the United States. We would not- at all- like a Forest of Old Growth

    • Voirdire

      This is ridiculous…. I mean just flat out nonsense. When the Forest Service was created and given its mission in 1905 they were less than two billion people on this planet ..84 million in the US. Since then over one third of the world’s forests have been irrevocably lost. And then there is global warming on an unprecedented scale… you probably hadn’t heard much about this lately …nor the fact that fresh water levels for agriculture and everyday use throughout the US/ world are plummeting. But sure, right, we surely need to be making “tables and chairs” from our mature hardwood forests ad infinitum ….what century are you in? ….what planet do you live on?

      • Jerry Hinz

        To you it might be ridiculous… Let’s deal in facts.
        There are Wilderness areas that protect old Growth- on many lands overseen by US Forest Service. There are other agencies that protect
        Forests and Old Growth,
        There are Park Service lands and others that protect trees and severely limit cutting to meet their goals – more to protect.

        As the US Forest Service: Founder of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot said
        “that where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.

        Hence, we all get some of the Forest.
        Trees are a part of management – but the other uses I mentioned already also get a piece of the pie on US Forest Service Managed Lands, and there are trained specialist in every field within Forest Service working to maintain a balance considering all uses – considering what our citizens want as uses in the Forest– and considering the environment. The Forest Plans outline the future focus for each Forest.

        • Voirdire

          “Hence, we all get some of the Forest” ..huh? This US Forest Service “plan” for the Pisgah and Nantahala forests is nothing more than a calibrated ploy to double the amount of cutting and logging in these two forests.. period. But sure, no worries, you’re going to get your “some of the Forest” …it will delivered to you on the back of a logging truck. Your “trained specialists” at the Forest Service are all working under a set mandate to increase the timber output from our WNC National Forests… the rest from them and timber folks like yourself is nothing more than disingenuous ( ..to put it mildly) green wash about the health of the forest et al ..that no one other than the logging crowd believes for one second. Just total BS… but honestly, please, let’s keep hearing more of this talking out of both sides of your mouth double talk nonsense about how sharply INCREASING the amount of logging of our mature hardwood forest in the Pisgah and Nantahala helps keep the good ole timber folks employed ( ..and let’s not forget those quaint little table and chair manufacturers humming along) …all while protecting our environment!

          • Jerry hinz

            Please tell us what are your qualifications are – to know about Forest management. I am not disputing the events happening in the world that are hurting the environment but USForest Service management is by law focused on protecting the environment while still allowing us all to use the forests. You may not like this – but managing forests takes professionals with skills in many areas

    • Shultz!

      Thanks Jerry, very well written comment and hopefully one that’ll maybe spark folks to consider the nuance here. That’s it…just wanted to chime in try to counter the rudeness & disrespect from others. Have a nice day :-)

  3. Feel the Burn

    Jerry, never mind the rude comments from the above, it’s just another transplant from the north east area who has left a failed state and moved down here and continues pushing for the same issues they moved away from….Insanity.

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