The Transylvania Times -

Series Of National Forest Meetings Planned


March 12, 2018

Courtesy photo

The Panel Series includes one on March 27 in the county library.

This month, experts representing a diverse group of conservation, recreation and business interests will take part in a series of special panel events on the future of the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests this March.

The panels, which will be held in Brevard, Sylva, Boone and Andrews, will present visions for a win-win forest management plan that allows all interests to co-exist and thrive in Western North Carolina's national forests, according to MountainTrue, which is organizing the series of panels.

MountainTrue is an environmental and conservation nonprofit covering Western North Carolina.

This year, the U.S. Forest Service is expected to release the first draft of a new forest management plan for Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.

This big-picture plan sets the ground rules for all activities in the forests for the next 15 years or more: from wildlife management and timber sales on public lands to the Hiking, fishing and mountain Biking for which the region is well-known.

Comprising more than a million acres combined, Nantahala and Pisgah are a central part of the region's natural and cultural heritage and a driver of its economy, according to the press release.

In the spirit of cooperation, the release said, the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership was formed to gather all forest interest groups into the same room at once: timber, water, wildlife, recreation, wilderness and more.

The Partnership, the release said, believes it's critical that everyone be willing to support everyone else's values with the expectation that the support will be reciprocal.

For the past five years, the Partnership has come up with a vision and a set of recommendations for a forest plan that supports all forest interests at once.

The Forest Service has also received recommendations from other groups participating in the forest plan revision, and now the Partnership wants to share the best of those ideas with the wider public.

The panel schedules are as follows:


March 15 at the Jackson County Public Library, 6-7:30 p.m.

Panelists: Josh Kelly, public lands field Biologist for MountainTrue; Tommy Cabe, tribal forest resource specialist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Andrea Leslie, habitat conservation coordinator for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission; and Bill Kane, board member of the N.C. Wildlife Federation.


March 22 at the Watauga County Public Library, 6-7:30 p.m.

Panelists: Josh Kelly, public lands field biologist for MountainTrue; Julie White, director of the Southern Off-Road Mountain Bicycle Association (SORBA); Jim Sitts, Appalachian timber manager for Columbia Forest Products; Curtis Smalling, director of conservation for Audubon North Carolina in Boone; and Deirdre Perot, representative of Back Country Horsemen of Pisgah.


March 27 at the Transylvania County Public Library, 6-7:30 p.m.

Panelists: Tom Thomas, president of Back Country Horsemen of N.C. and a member of the N.C. Horse Council; Megan Sutton, Southern Blue Ridge program director of The Nature Conservancy; David Whitmire, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council and co-owner of Headwaters Outfitters; Kevin Colburn, national stewardship director of American Whitewater; and Fred Hardin, forester with Gilkey Lumber Company.


March 29 at the Andrews Community Center, 6-7:30 p.m. Panelists: Callie Moore, executive director of the Hiwassee Watershed Coalition; Tommy Cabe, tribal forest resource specialist for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; Sophia Paulos, economic development director of Graham County; and Chris Coxen, district biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The panel in Brevard will be moderated by Lee McMinn of the Transylvania County Resources Council.

The panels in Sylva, Boone and Andrews will be moderated by journalist and professor of economics at Blue Ridge Community College Jack Igelman.

The events are free and open to the public, and will include a question-and-answer portion with the audience at the end. Refreshments will be provided.

The panel events are sponsored by MountainTrue and the following members of the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership: Access Fund, American Whitewater, Backcountry Horsemen of N.C., Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D, Columbia Forest Products, Defenders of Wildlife, Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, International Mountain Bicycling Association, North Carolina Horse Council, North Carolina Youth Camp Association, Root Cause, Southern Appalachian Mineral Society, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the Wilderness Society, and Wild South.

The panel in Brevard is also sponsored by the WNC Fish & Wildlife Conservation Council.

For more information about the group, go to

About MountainTrue

MountainTrue is the oldest grassroots environmental non-profit in North Carolina and champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities. It engages in policy advocacy at all levels of government, local project advocacy and on-the-ground environmental restoration projects across 23 counties in the region.

About the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership

Courtesy photo

A local angler greets another trail user in the North Mills River tract of Pisgah National Forest. Remember, everyone is supposed to yield to equestrians out on the trail.

The Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership strives to create a lasting voice for innovative management and public investment in the public forests of North Carolina's mountains for the future. It envisions a thriving, resilient forest within its natural range of variation, able to support healthy ecosystems, wildlife populations, local economies and traditional uses.

It envisions a forest with the connectivity and integrity to remain resilient in the face of the changes and challenges of the future.

About the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Council

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council, formed by a variety of sportsmen and other wildlife interests, supports the sound management and conservation of all wildlife resources in the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest and provides support and positive guidance to ensure a diversity of wildlife thrives there.


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