Here’s a project getting some attention that isn’t in the West: the Courthouse Creek Project, on the Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest.
News article in the Black Mountian News yesterday:
Groups appeal to stop Courthouse Creek logging project
“This is the worst possible place for an old-school logging project,” said D.J. Gerken, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Devil’s Courthouse are worth far more than the timber this project will generate.”
The logging, which could begin as early as 2015, would include 30 harvest sites that range in size from 4 to 34 acres, dispersed across the 7,000-acre Courthouse Creek area. The project would take four to five years and harvest about 6 percent of the trees in the Courthouse Creek area.
“The Forest Service promised to manage this area as intact, mature forest for black bear,” said Ben Prater of Wild South. “The Forest Service bills this timber sale as a restoration project — but the pristine habitat in this area doesn’t need restoring; it needs to be protected.”
The appeal was filed on behalf of the Wilderness Society, Wild South, and Western North Carolina Alliance.
OK, so I took a look at the EA, which is here:
There are 10 items listed under Purpose and Need for Action. This one seems to be the one the groups object to:
4) There is a need to develop between 64-192 acres of early successional habitat in MA 3B and up to 324 acres of early successional habitat in MAs 4A and 4D (Forest Plan, page III-31). There is currently no managed 0-10 year age class habitat in MAs 3B, 4A, and 4D in the AA. Two-age and group selection harvests would provide this needed habitat.
Under the preferred alternative, the Pisgah would take these actions:
In stands harvested with a two-age prescription, an average minimum of 20ft2/acre residual basal area would be left in a non-uniform distribution, where some trees are clumped and others are scattered as individuals. Preferred leave trees are hickory species, white oak, and chestnut.
In stands harvested with a group selection prescription, small openings of 0.2 to 1.0 acres would be harvested, distributed over a stand size area, with the intent to establish three or more distinct age-classes within a prescribed rotation.
Some of these stands “would be harvested with the objective to improve golden-winged warbler habitat and would be permanently maintained as shrub habitat. The target basal area for these units would be 20 to 40 ft2 basal area per acre.”
I can’t imagine these activities would bother black bears in the least.
The EA also note that “Many of the proposed activities in the Courthouse Creek analysis area correspond to the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest Restoration Focus Areas, which were developed collaboratively between the National Forests in NC, partner organizations, and research scientists in August 2008.”
Of course, there’s lots more detail in the 139-page EA.
Is this an “an old-school logging project”? I don’t know anything about the Pisgah. Anyone care to comment?
My main question is why these groups would appeal an apparently benign project, one that would seem to meet the “developed collaboratively” objectives? I can see a lot that I imagine these groups would support. If this was an “old-school” clearcutting project, I could understand. Maybe these groups think all logging is bad. Or maybe they just have to make some noise.