On December 2, 2019, the Forest Service released the Foothills Landscape Project Draft Environmental Assessment (EA). With included appendices and Specialist Reports, the EA amounts to over 1,000 pages. In light of the busy holiday season, the Chattooga Conservancy signed on to a letter requesting a delayed start date of the commenting period. The Forest Service denied this request, and on December 11, published their official legal notice in Gainesville Times for the 30-day comment period ending January 10, 2020.
Thank you to all who got involved and made your voices heard about this project! Over 2,000 comments were submitted during the comment period. The Chattooga Conservancy submitted comments in partnership with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife, Georgia ForestWatch, Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society, as a document totaling more than 200 pages. We also submitted a separate brief set of comments. Both documents can be read here:
We will update with any further news.
The Forest Service launched its “Foothills Landscape Initiative” in the fall of 2016. The project area encompasses a vast 157,625 acres of national forest land in north Georgia, including a significant portion of the Chattooga River watershed in Rabun County. The Forest Service is seeking public input to consider as they develop specific aspects of the project.
We have been engaged in the Foothills Project’s “collaborative” process to push for the restoration of native forest types, old-growth forests and native canebrake ecosystems, and to also push for the protection of water quality, wilderness areas and roadless landscapes within the project area.
After a series of public meetings and workshops during 2017, the Forest Service issued its “proposed action” for the Foothills Project. The agency also developed an online forum to solicit public participation.
We submitted 3 sets of comments on the Foothills Landscape Initiative prior to the release of the draft EA in Dec. 2019:
This is a large project. Stay tuned for further updates.