Scroll Top
AP Ranger District
White Pine
South Carolina
Jump to Latest Update

In the spring of 2019, the Forest Service issued a Scoping Notice for the White Pine Management Project on the Andrew Pickens Ranger District in South Carolina. The project area encompasses approximately 1,952 acres of national forest land, including a significant portion of the Chattooga River watershed in Oconee County. Even-age timber harvests, or clear-cuts with reserves, are planned for 1,195 acres, commercial thinning for 59 acres, and uneven-age group selection harvests for 698 acres. Tree-cutting will be followed by herbicide application, prescribed burning, chipping, and/or planting.

This project has the potential to impact popular recreation areas used by the public for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and scenic enjoyment, and could affect streams, rare stands of old growth timber, and adjacent private landowners. The Chattooga Conservancy, along with numerous community members, maintained active involvement throughout the planning and objection process. The project decision was finalized in 2021, and implementation is underway. We will continue to monitor impacts on water quality and ecosystems as the project progresses.

We hosted a public meeting about the project in late April 2019, participated in meetings and hikes with the Forest Service and others involved in the project, and submitted comments throughout the planning process: 

White Pine Scoping Notice – May 2019 – Chattooga Conservancy Comments
White Pine Draft EA & 40-Acre Exemption – Nov 2020 – Chattooga Conservancy Comments
White Pine Final EA & DN/FONSI – April 2021 – Chattooga Conservancy Objection

The project project area can be viewed on our Interactive Map.

UpDate July 2021

In response to objections to the White Pine Project, the Forest Service held a virtual “objection resolution” meeting on May 27th. Chattooga Conservancy staff joined three individual objectors in attending the meeting. An additional three parties submitted objections prior to the April 16th deadline, but these were “set aside from review” because the objectors had not previously submitted comments on the project.

The meeting provided an opportunity for objectors to explain specific project issues to Forest Service staff, including Forest Supervisor John Lint and District Ranger Robbie Sitzlar. The objectors expressed their concerns regarding old growth, habitat connectivity, climate change, forest diversity, erosion and sedimentation, aquatic resources, cumulative effects with the ongoing Loblolly Project, and impacts to the Chattooga River, scenery, recreation areas, and adjacent private property. Forest Service personnel acknowledged objections, but did not discuss these issues or provide any responses during the meeting.

On Tuesday, June 29th, we received Supervisor Lint’s written response to objections (issued June 24th by mail). The majority of concerns were not addressed with any changes to the project plan. The Supervisor requested that the AP District take the following actions:

  • Review analyses for soil and water resources and cumulative effects of soils, and add clarifying information where needed.
  • Request that the South Carolina Forestry Commission conduct courtesy exams (water quality), specifically to include Swafford Creek, Hart’s Branch, and a pond on private property.
  • Work with Chattooga Conservancy to pursue opportunities for additional monitoring.
  • If an interest group or organization is willing to develop a proposal and agree to maintain the trail system in the Swafford Creek area, cooperate with them to investigate the possibility of officially designating this trail system.
  • In uneven-aged treatment stands in the Swafford Creek area (34/18, 34/21, and 31/4) limit canopy gap size per group opening from 1 acre to approx. 0.5 acre.
  • In the Swafford Creek area, delineate the area to be protected for the pink lady’s slipper prior to implementation, and investigate the presence of a bog, and if possible provide protections during implementation if present.

Today, July 1st, the AP District released their Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact, approving implementation of the White Pine Project. You can find full project details here, and view the project area on our interactive map.

Thank you to all who attended meetings, participated in the public comment and objection processes, and helped spread the word about this project! Public involvement contributed to the changes that have been made to the project plan since the Scoping Notice in 2019. Although we are disappointed with the outcome, we’ll continue to stay involved with water quality and resource monitoring as this project moves forward.