The Transylvania Times -

PNF Pre-Draft Plan Released, Public Comments Open Until Sept. 1


June 12, 2017

Anglers of all kinds have been weighing in with their desires for the new management plan.

The title "pre-draft" may sound a little odd, but that's exactly what was released a couple of weeks back when the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) rolled out the latest in the Nantahala/Pisgah Revision Plan. This newly plowed ground of forest management, which makes the process very transparent and interactive, is at the stage where the public gets to peek at its own input so far in the plan.

As descriptions and maps are brought out, one should also get a glimpse at the direction the Forest Service is taking. The beauty of this plan, and what makes it vastly different from those of the past, is that forest users will be able to comment until Sept. 1 on the pre-draft. Past plans took public input, but once they were developed, they were enacted, unlike the more collaborative approach that the pre-draft plan takes.

Here are some pre- draft points of the plan that will affect the Pisgah District in Transylvania County:

•Geographic Areas (GA's)

Transylvania County was broken into two geographic areas: the Pisgah Ledge and the Highland Domes. The Western boundary of the Pisgah Ledge tract starts at N.C. 215 and covers all of the Pisgah District in Transylvania County going East.

The Highland Domes will pick up N.C. 215 as its eastern boundary, taking in the remainder of the county's National Forest land to the west. Both geographic areas extend into neighboring counties that share both the Nantahala and Pisgah National forests.

•Management Areas (MA's) within both geographic areas in Transylvania County include:

The Cradle of Forestry, Scenic Byway Corridors, John Rock Scenic Area, Looking Glass Rock Scenic Area, Pink Bed Bogs and Inventoried Roadless Areas. In the eastern end of the county, the Davidson and Mills rivers' systems are eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation.

The Horsepasture River already has Wild and Scenic River designation and both the Thompson and the Whitewater Rivers are newly eligible for Wild and Scenic River designation. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

The three general forest management areas as described by the USFS are Interface, Matrix and Backcountry that make up the bulk of the forest.

Interface areas of the forest contain the primary access for visitors. Roads, trailheads, visitor facilities and access to fishing are included in the Interface. The Matrix of the forest is the largest management area in the forest. It begins about one mile from primary road corridors, connecting the three management areas.

The Backcountry areas of the forest are largely roadless and remote with a management emphasis on backcountry recreational use. Visitors can expect little evidence of humans other than anglers, bikers, sportsmen, paddlers and climbers.

Each management area has a distinct set of guidance for its unique emphases and description.

After looking through this forest plan roll-out as a sportsman, outfitter, recreationist and conservationist, I am pleased to see not only my input but others captured in this pre-draft from the past four years work.

Critical wildlife habitat needs are included and restoration needs in the forest are also addressed. The sustainability of trails, roads and recreation all play key parts in the plan. I'm also pleased that our history and culture can be recognized not just as the past, but brought forth into a plan for the future.

I encourage you to visit the USFS website,, or go to the open house being held at the Pisgah Ranger District Office on July 13, from 6 – 8 p.m., to learn more about the descriptions of the GAs or MAs or comment on the plan. Also, on July 20 at the Lake Toxaway Community Center from 6 – 8 p.m., the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council will be hosting a sportsman workshop on all the Geographic and Management areas of Pisgah National Forest. Again, the deadline is Sept. 1 for comments on the pre– draft.

Mountain bikers have been able to give input based on their needs and wants in the forest. Being able to connect trails better is one of their concerns.

The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Revision Plan is in its fourth year. Once completed (spring of 2018) it will guide the management of these forest for the next 15 – 20 years.

The public will have further chances to comment later after Sept. 1, when the Forest Plan Draft is completed. The pre-draft plan represents work and input from many aspects of stakeholders, forest users, the general public and forest managers.

The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Revision Plan is one of the first revision plans to be developed under the 2012 planning rule that encourages collaboration among the groups listed above.

(Whitmire is the owner of Headwaters Outfitters, and plays various roles in local conservation efforts.)


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