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Action Alert: Southside Timber Project

Please take a little time to send your comments to the Nantahala Ranger District of the Forest Service, and tell District Ranger Mike Wilkins to WITHDRAW the Southside Project proposal, and include the specifics outlined below.

Send comments by email to:  or by USPS to: Nantahala Ranger District, 90 Sloan Road, Franklin, NC  28734.  The Forest Service requires that comments “should be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and must include supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider.”

The DEADLINE for submitting comments is by midnight on Monday, March 19th, 2018

  • On February 16, 2018, the Nantahala Ranger District released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for their Southside Project.  The project Analysis Area is over 29,000 acres, with most of it located in the heart of the Chattooga River headwaters.  The Chattooga Conservancy has thoroughly analyzed the 185-page document.  We’ve concluded that if this proposal moves forward, it will do great harm to the biological integrity of the area, at tax payer’s expense.  Here is what we have discovered:

TARGETS OLD GROWTH FORESTS  Almost 60% of the 317 acres proposed for timber harvesting is over 100 years old, and some of it is over 200 years old.  Old growth forests are rich in biological diversity, and are extremely rare.  Only .5% of these rare native forests remain in the southeastern US, and it should not be destroyed.  Protecting, restoring and connecting our remaining patches of old growth forest is essential for providing the “seed stock” for restoring native forest ecosystems, for preserving rare habitat for dependent flora and fauna, and helping mitigate and adapt plant and animal species to the effects of climate change.

  • Tell the Forest Service to NOT CUT OLD GROWTH at Brushy Mountain and Granite City, and not cut in stands 41/42, 41/44, 41/40, 41/47, 40/42, 40/21, 40/13 and 29/16, that are over 100 years old.

OUTDATED AND FLAWED SCIENCE  The Forest Service has proposed to cut down these older forests, and attempts to justify this through studies that claim the “early successional habitat” (ESH, 0-10 years old) created by timber harvesting is necessary for many species in decline, and that young forests that are more efficient as carbon sinks, to slow the effects of climate change.  However, it is widely known in the scientific community that older forests create some ESH naturally, and are much better at storing carbon than ESH.  But the Forest Service continues to use outdated and flawed science in their old Forest Plans, which binds the agency to intensive timber harvesting to create ESH.  Recent scientific studies conclude—contrary to the older studies used by the Forest Service—that old growth forests are much more effective at storing carbon, and when old growth forest is cut down, it takes almost 200 years to reach the same capacity.

LOTS OF HERBICIDES  The Forest Service is proposing to use massive amounts of herbicides (glyphosate) to cultivate only certain tree species for commercial timber harvesting, and to kill other native trees, shrubs and invasive species.  Recent studies show that poisonous herbicides like glyphosate persist much longer in the environment than previously thought, and are much more likely to cause cancer.  And in many cases, mechanical methods work just as well, without the risk.

EXCESSIVE BURNING  The Forest Service wants to burn 722 acres in the Bull Pen area; 1,765 acres in the Jack’s Creek & Whitewater River area; and burn patches of forest in other miscellaneous areas.  The Chattooga watershed is known as a “temperate rain forest,” yet the Forest Service wants to prescribe fire at intervals much more frequent than natural fire cycles, causing soil degradation and erosion while disrupting our natural ecosystem.

LOSING TAXPAYER’S MONEY  We believe that the proposed timber harvesting and other actions in the Southside Project would occur at a loss of tax payer’s money.  The EA fails to disclose and include costs for road-building, timber sales planning, administration, burning, herbicides, etc.  The Forest Service attempts to justify these below-cost timber sales by claiming that the benefits to wildlife, recreation and habitat make up the difference—all of which are very disputable claims.