The land, purchased by Conserving Carolina, falls roughly halfway between the current Island Ford and Hap Simpson Park access points, which are separated by nearly 10 miles of river. Morrow Landing’s placement will therefore facilitate shorter trips by less experienced river users and improve access for emergency responders.
“By expanding the blitz to four counties and making a game of it, we hope to be able to engage more people and find more species,” said MountainTrue Public Lands Biologist Josh Kelly. “We might even find some that have never been recorded in our region.”
The pending approval of a U.S. Forest Service plan for the roughly 1 million acres that the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests cover in Western North Carolina is likely to influence whether a large swath of the Craggy Mountains should be open for timber harvesting or managed for recreation.
Groups in Western North Carolina are continuing their projects while the U.S. Forest Service finalizes its choices for the comprehensive 20-year plan.
On Feb. 14, the U.S. Forest Service kicked off a 90-day comment period on the long-awaited draft of a new plan for the forests, set to take effect in 2021 and guide the service’s management approach over the next 10-15 years. Comment online, by mail and at public meetings throughout WNC ends on Thursday, May 14.
Later this month, the N.C. Forest Service will help the city of Asheville carry out a series of controlled burns on at least 95 acres around the North Fork and Bee Tree Reservoirs, thereby reducing the risk of more severe fires in a watershed that serves more than 125,000 area residents.
Craig Harper with the University of Tennessee notes that negative public perception about prescribed burning generally arises from a lack of understanding about how fire benefits the landscape. “Many people will argue for increased diversity on national forests, but they don’t want disturbance,” he says. “If you don’t have disturbance, then it is impossible to have increased diversity.”
What’s the future of Western North Carolina’s public woodlands, particularly the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests? Public lands biologist Josh Kelly has worked with the Asheville-based nonprofit, WNC Alliance, since 2011, helping determine the answer. And with the U.S. Forest Service updating its plans for Pisgah and Nantahala for the first time in 20 years, the […]