Thursday, January 10, 2008

Forest Service allows logging at Blowing Rock, N.C.

In 2006, the U.S. Forest Service announced plans to log in the Pisgah National Forest near the mountain resort town of Blowing Rock, N.C., about 90 miles northwest of Asheville. Since then, environmentalists and locals have opposed the logging in the section known as the Globe (in photo by Jeff Eason for The Watauga Democrat) since many of the affected areas would be visible from popular tourist spots, but this week the Forest Service said it would continue with the plan, reports Bruce Henderson of the Charlotte Observer.

"Forest Supervisor Marisue Hilliard, who oversees national forests in North Carolina, upheld an October logging decision that environmental groups had appealed," Henderson writes. "She promised 'continued dialogue ' with opponents and other potential concessions, such as cutting the trees in stages over a decade." (Read more)

The plan calls for logging trees in 17 scattered units for a total of 212 acres within the 11,225 acres of the Globe area. More than 1,000 public comments were filed in response to the plan, and environmental groups opposed the logging, saying that some trees in the area had been for more than 300 years. The Southern Environmental Law Center appealed on behalf of three environmental groups, and the Blowing Rock, Boone and Watauga County governments passed resolutions calling for a federally designated scenic area that would prohibit logging.

The original plan called for the logging of 231 acres, but the 19-acre reduction was not enough to satisfy opponents such as Chris Joyell of Wild South, reports Scott Nicholson of the Democrat, a weekly newspaper in Boone, N.C. (Watauga Cpunty). Joyell told Nicholson the service should at the very least avoid logging in areas that could receive the scenic designation.

“We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the Globe basin and best represent the community’s interests for that area,” Joyell said. “We hope to gain time and help them understand the importance of this area to the community.(Read more)

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