Mills River Logging Update- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Mills River Logging Update

    Could be better, could be worse pretty much sums it up.

    Guaranteed trail impact: Lower Trace down to the river (the massively eroded part) will be used for timber extraction and will be re-graded.
    There will be two spots in the last 1/2 mile of Upper Trace where an old road crosses the trail. This old road will be used for extraction and will be re-graded, so there will some impact on the trail tread.

    Potential other impacts: Logging occurs very very close to Bear Branch and Wash Creek trails. The FS claims the trails will not be impacted, but, well, you know...
    Understory removal will occur near North Mills River trail. Again, no claimed impact, but, well, you know...

    Road use for extraction will have the biggest impact. Talking wiith people towards the end of the meeting, we realized there''s a good chance that a lot of the area will get CLOSED to all traffic during logging operations- in other words, no access to Never-Ending Road or maybe even Trace Ridge Trailhead for an extended period of time. As always, I have great concerns regarding what conditions the roads will be left in during extraction.

    If you can think of a gated or non-gated road in the Mills River area, it will be used for extraction during this project.

    There are no plans for any trail improvements/work as part of the project.

    PAS will be writing a formal comment in the near future.
    We had great turn-out from the MTB community compared to past, similar open houses. Thanks Chuck, Drew, Park, Julie, Jody (the man of many hats) , Jeff for being there.
    If any of you think I missed anything, please post.

    Mike

  2. #2

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    Mills River logging

    I was at the "open house" and appreciate everyone who made it. No time for extensive comments right now, but briefly:

    The event was the predictable snow job. It was carefully engineered to deflect and dissipate any opposition. Snap out of the trance, folks. They're preparing to subject one of the most beautiful valleys in the region to a ten year period of logging. They're going to log off patches of the most mature hardwoods. If you like this idea, do nothing and it will happen. If you don't, get organized and work to stop it. I believe it can be stopped.

    I think goal one should be to extend the comment period.

    Jonathan

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    Time Line?

    Is there a estimate of when the carnage will begin?

    Eric ||

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagondriver
    I was at the "open house" and appreciate everyone who made it. No time for extensive comments right now, but briefly:

    The event was the predictable snow job. It was carefully engineered to deflect and dissipate any opposition. Snap out of the trance, folks. They're preparing to subject one of the most beautiful valleys in the region to a ten year period of logging. They're going to log off patches of the most mature hardwoods. If you like this idea, do nothing and it will happen. If you don't, get organized and work to stop it. I believe it can be stopped.

    I think goal one should be to extend the comment period.

    Jonathan
    I agree with everything you say here...the impact of this project on the valley overall will be enormous and, in my opinion, atrocious.

    Comments from PAS will include a brief commentary on the overall proposal, but there are several strong primarily environmental organizations which will submit comments. As probably the most active trail advocacy organization, we'll be emphasing recreational impacts more than environmental.

    Mike

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NC_dirtsurfer
    Is there a estimate of when the carnage will begin?

    Eric ||
    The comment period is set to end July 10th. I agree I think we should try and get that date moved farther out in light of additions to the plan and lack of info.

  6. #6
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    Y'all- I've been asked this from a couple of places, so here's a clif notes version of the process:

    1) This open house was the result of a scoping letter being issued, This essentially is a notice that a project is being planned. We submit committs on the scoping letter, then...
    2) An environmental assessment occurs which should (in my opinion, often doesn't) address both set issues all EA's have to look at and the comments submitted. The EA usually includes 2-5 "alternatives" for how the project will actually hit the ground. A second committ period is offered- we should definitely insist on a second open house/form at a more convenient time (in the evening).
    3) The ranger for Pisgah District (there's only one actual "ranger" for the district- a pretty decent, honest, and happy guy named Randy Burgess in a job narrowly defined by the bureaucracy he works in) then issues a decision notice specifiying what action will actually occur. This should take into account both the EA and the comment submitted; it's ususally one of the alternatives from the EA.

    I've been involved on comments etc for the last two major logging projects in Pisgah District- one on Seinyard Ridge above Cove Creek/Caney/Daniel Ridge Areas and one in the Baldwin Gap area north of North Boundary trail. On Seinyard ridge, it appeared that the comments of the cycling and enviro communities were mostly ignored (my opinion). On Baldwin Gap, it appeared that the comments of the enviro/cycling/hiking communities resulted in the least harmful of the alternatives being chosen- fwiw, the alternative chosen includes a proposal for 6 miles of new trail on that side, leavaing North Boundary about 1/2 way up to Five Points and coming into North Boundary about 1 mile past. That's pretty cool

    Hope that helps people understand the process (which is fairly set in stone by USFS p & p's).

    EDIT: Oh yeah, timelines- don't expect any actual logging this year, IMO. Early next year would be as early as we'd see, likely later than that. Seinyard ridge happened fast and dirty (literally). Baldwin Gap still hasn't been completed after what, 5 years of work?

  7. #7
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    Believe it or not, the thinning CAN be beneficial, if it's really thinning & not clear cutting.

    I've got family near Stanislaus NF in California, which has been in the thinning process for several years now. Generally it looks like crap for 6-9 months, then it's good to go. At least in CA, they're leaving the biggest/oldest trees behind, and taking harvestable timber from the "middle age" trees.

    Of course if they clear cut, then all bets are off. Harvesting certainly WASN'T beneficial when the old Sidehill trail was bulldozed @ Bent Creek...

  8. #8
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    Just finished riding up at N. Mills River and grading has already begun on the Never Ending Road all the way past the Middle Fork trail head. I actually enjoyed riding this stretch of logging road as it was smooth and overgrown, now it's a bit of a slog with the loose surface from the grading.

    Depending on how this project moves forward it would present an opportunity for some much needed trail work in the area if the Forest Service would be agreeable to letting volunteers use the access roads when logging is not occurring. Much of the trail work that needs to be done on trails such as Fletcher Creek, Middle Fork, and Spencer Branch is fairly close to the trail heads off the Never Ending Road.

  9. #9
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    "Believe it or not, the thinning CAN be beneficial, if it's really thinning & not clear cutting... generally it looks like crap for 6-9 months, then it's good to go."

    Been there, done that - several times over in Bent Creek, so I can agree with the recovery process.

    I'm not so sure about this particular project - different in a lot of ways. Sounds pretty aggressive.

    Still, really miss "ole' sidehill".

    Now you're cast of steel and cast aside. Broken dreams maybe, but you haven't died

  10. #10
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    We always have access to those roads for approved trail work. Part of the advantage oof being an official trail group.
    On other hand, we do not have assigned responsibility for any trails in N Mills River- so we cannot, as of today, do any approved trail work in that area.
    On the other other hand, MY OPINION(and past experience) is that improving trails is way way down on the list of the people organizing tis project. The only way it happens is if we drag the FS into it.
    Sorry for the Sunday am skepticism, no coffee yet.

  11. #11
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    Will there be another meeting on this? I could not make it on Tuesday due to work being all screwy that day. Just ran out of day.

  12. #12
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    Dear ECO member and/or friend:

    ECO and the WNC Alliance are co-hosting a meeting next Thursday, July 9, to provide
    details and a greater level of understanding to our members and the public about the
    implications of the Brushy Ridge logging project and how it should be improved. The
    Forest Service recently held a public comment session which neglected to focus on the
    effects extensive logging could have on water supply in Henderson and Buncombe counties,
    not to mention sensitive habitats.

    Bob Gale, the Ecologist for the Western North Carolina Alliance, will help lead the
    meeting. Bob has spent 15 years in the landscaping industry and remains a certified
    Arborist. He also spent 3 years as Director of Field Operations in Wetlands Science for
    Ballantine Environmental Resources, Inc. at Hilton Head Island, SC, where he lived for 17
    years.

    Bob has extensively studied the Forest Services' proposals and has offered input to them
    throughout the process. He should be able to provide a comprehensive picture of how this
    plan might look if logging was not the major modus operandi. The better educated we are
    to the issues, the more engaged we will be on how to make the current proposals better.

    The meeting will be at the Henderson County Library in Hendersonville (301 N Washington
    St) from 7:00-8:30 pm. We will also have letter writing supplies so you can write a
    comment letter that night! The Forest Service needs to hear from all of us so that our
    views are taken into account before they finalize their plans.

    For more information on the meeting, call Bob Gale at 828.258.8737 or email [email protected]
    or contact ECO at 692-0385.

    PLEASE READ BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ISSUES AND HOW TO COMMENT.

    Return your comments by July 10, 2009

    Comments may be mailed to:

    Pisgah Ranger District
    1001 Pisgah Highway
    Pisgah Forest, North Carolina 28768

    Or e-mailed to: [email protected].


    WE SHOULD HAVE LOTS OF MOUNTAIN BIKERS AT THIS MEETING. I AM IN TOWN NEXT WEEK (for a change) AND CAN MAKE THIS ONE.

    WOODY

  13. #13
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    Just a reminder of the meeting this Thur. at 7PM at the Hville Library. This will be a much more informative meeting than the one hosted by the USFS and is at a time when working folks can make it. There will be easy opportunity to write your comment letter at this meeting, talking points will be provided. The deadline for comments is July 10 so this is your best and last opportunity to have your voice heard.

    We need lots of mountain bikers to attend this meeting and/or write comment letters.

    Woody

  14. #14
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    Just FYI:

    I rode out at Mills River yesterday and saw the grading on 5013 ("Never Ending Road") that jst... refers to.
    While I understand that the FS can "maintain" a road at anytime, the work done goes way beyond maintenance. Turnaround have been re-graded with a track vehicle and the road bed has been essentially widened in many places to accomadate future large logging vehicle traffic. They are definitely prepping the road for logging operations prior to the EA and comment periods being completed.
    PAS comments will most likely request an explanation of these actions and I'd suggest some other comments should as well; I can't make the meeting Thursday.
    Can you bring this up there, W?

  15. #15
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    All over that like flies on horse manure sitting in the middle of a trail.

    The USFS can not use the NEPA process to justify a decision that has already be made. We may need to remind them of that.

    We need to find out what category the Never-Ending Road is currently inventory as, the FS has a class 1-5 for roads (and also a 1-5 for trails).

    I recieved the quarterly SOPA (Schedule of Proposed Actions) from the SO (Supervisors Office) yesterday and there is no mention yet of this proposed project.

    Every one needs to remember that comments letter now is what really effects the process. Comments to Scoping Letters before an EA is developed must be considered and responded to by the FS. Once the EA is developed, they can only consider alternatives shown (3-5 usually) in the EA.

    Woody

  16. #16
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    There has also been heavy grading on Bradley Creek Road

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    All over that like flies on horse manure sitting in the middle of a trail.

    Speakin of Horses and Manure rode NMR Saturday ....Upper DH sections of Trace are a friggin' mess... Horses are destroying what used to be such a fun ride.


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by afolks
    There has also been heavy grading on Bradley Creek Road
    Please remind me of where that road is?

    If that road is an open road, they can maintain it to a set standard allowing for passage of normal vehicles.

    Never Ending Road (not sure what it's FS number is) is a gated road and last time I road it I would guess it was more than meeting it's FS standards for such a road and Travel Management Objectives.

    Woody

  19. #19
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    Gated road that leaves from Yellow Gap down to Bradley Creek trail

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by afolks
    Gated road that leaves from Yellow Gap down to Bradley Creek trail
    5015

  21. #21
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    Bumping this again to get as many folks as possible to attend the meeting Thursday and/or write comment letters.

    Brad, unfortunately I think the majority of that damage is due to water. The horse traffic does not help but the steeper sections of Trace have been scoured down to a sandstone like bed surface.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by gtdrew
    Bumping this again to get as many folks as possible to attend the meeting Thursday and/or write comment letters.

    Brad, unfortunately I think the majority of that damage is due to water. The horse traffic does not help but the steeper sections of Trace have been scoured down to a sandstone like bed surface.
    You both are right.

    Horses loosen soil when traveling on trails, we call those displacement forces. The steeper the trail, the greater the displacement due to the digging to provide forward momentum (the physics of propulsion) .

    Bike have more of a compactive force on trails, except when the gradient of the trail becomes excessively steep. This causes excessive forces in a rearward pattern when pedaling uphill, and excessive braking forces when going down. We have all seen skids marks or braking bumps on trails, that is clear signs of soil displacement.

    Drew is correct that water is doing a lot of damage on Trace, and many other trails in our area that where not designed and built properly to start with. If you look at the photo Brad provided, you can clearly see that the trail is well below grade, meaning it is lower than the prevailing landscape. That makes is very difficult to get water off the trail tread.

    Displaced soil (loose) is available for the next afternoon boomer thunderstorm and the hard rain associated with such to be taken away down the hill, thus the erosion we see all over on trails.

    Woody

  23. #23
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    Bump. The meeting is tonight.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solrac the red
    Bump. The meeting is tonight.

    I will be there.....

  25. #25
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    Cannot make meeting.
    PAS comment letter is being reviewed by Board of Directions, I'll post here later today so people can see what we're saying if they want to send similar individual responses in.

    I have suggested including repairs incluidng a possible small re-lo on Trace in the comment letter.
    I HATE that, but the section of trail Brad pictured above is only going to get worse and worse unless it sees either very significant work or a relocation above the current tread.
    The relocation would be a much better and longer-term solution.

  26. #26
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    Here's our comments to be submitted. Please consider sending individual comments in, feel free to mine here for talking points.

    Pisgah Ranger District
    1001 Pisgah Highway
    Pisgah Forest, North Carolina 28768 Attn: Ranger Randy Burgess

    Mr. Burgess:
    Since 2004, Pisgah Area Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association (PAS) has had the pleasure of developing a successful volunteer relationship with the Pisgah Ranger District. We’ve truly enjoyed having the opportunity to show you the positive influence the mountain bike community can have on trail conditions within the district. We’d also like to take this opportunity to mention the important impact mountain biking has on our area’s overall economy; tens of thousands of visitors come to our area every year to enjoy trails. The money these people spend in our local economy is most visibly demonstrated by the presence of no less than 11 cycling retail establishments and 2 cycling manufacturing facilities within 20 miles of the boundaries of the forest. Please take the importance of cycling opportunities to our overall regional economy into account when considering our comments to the proposed Brushy Ridge logging project.
    On June 9th, 2009, the District notified the public of their intents to engage in significant logging activities in the Brushy Ridge area, more commonly referred to as the North Mills River area. PAS attended the open house at the Town Hall of Mills River and appreciated the opportunity to clarify many points; we would like to say this meeting would have been more conveniently scheduled for the public at large if it had included some hours after 5pm.
    As a result of our review of the scoping documents and information received at the open house, we have the following specific comments:
    • In general, we are disappointed that that focus of the project seems to be on timber harvest rather than restoration of natural forest conditions and improving recreational opportunities. The Brushy Ridge project area includes some of the forests most popular recreational activities, such as fishing in the North Mills River and cycling, hiking, and equestrian opportunities on numerous roads and trails. There are also many areas where non-native invasive species are perniciously established and previous logging has caused less natural forest conditions. We would rather see the project address these areas than focus on timber harvest. In that regard, we do not oppose the following actions:
    o Efforts to improve campsites, trailheads, parking areas, and address erosive trail damage in some areas as cited in the scoping document.
    o Logging as detailed for the harvest of white pine plantations in stands 35-15, 35-17, 36-8, and 36-13 in order to encourage the forest to return to more natural conditions.
    o Thinning of overstocked tulip poplar stands as appropriate.
    o All efforts to remove non-native invasive species.
    Most other aspects of the proposed project seem to focus more on timber harvest than forest restoration and, as such, we are generally opposed. As a mountain biking group, however, the rest of our comments will focus on recreational impacts related to cycling.
    • A road identified as 5097-A is shown as being used for access to several stands. This road crosses Trail #354, Trace Ridge Trail. This trail is heavily used by recreational users. Please address if this trail would remain open during logging activities and specify what impact use of the road will have on the conditions of Trail #354 after logging is completed. We would ask that this road not be utilized at all for timber harvest.
    • Mr. Ted Oprean stated at the open house that the bottom portion of Trail #354 going from the Trace Ridge trailhead to the North Mills River would be used for harvesting activities, being regarded and graveled for use. Please address if this trail will remain open during logging activities and how the trail will be left in trail, not road, condition after the logging project is over. PAS will acknowledge that this trail, currently, is heavily eroded and would benefit from some grading activities.
    • The scoping document indicates that FS 5001 will be used for timber harvest and a new road will be built off it for additional harvest. This road is used heavily by recreational users to access the top of Trail #328, Bear Branch. Please address if the road will remain open during logging activities, the condition the road will be left in after harvest, the level of management the road will be under after logging, and specify if logging will have any impact specifically related to Trail #328, Bear Branch.
    • Trail #606, Wash Creek, parallels a stand slated for logging activities. The scoping document also slates that some work will be done along Wash Creek trail to block equestrian access to the creek. Please specify if #606 will be used by vehicles for logging activities and if heavy equipment will be used for trail improvements.
    • FS 5097 is a road heavily used by recreational users to access Trail #140 (Spencer Branch), Trail #352 (Middle Fork), and Trail #350 (Fletcher Creek). 5097 is marked to be used for access to stands for logging activity. Please specify if FS 5097 will remain open during logging activities. Please specify the level of maintenance FS 5097 will remain under after logging is completed. We would prefer it if all logging requiring the use of FS 5097 were not performed.
    • On FS 5097, there has already been significant road work done which goes beyond the roads current level of maintenance. A tracked vehicle with a large blade has been used to scrape out turnarounds and widen the road in some areas, seemingly in preparation for logging activities. Please detail why this work is being done prior to the completion of the scoping and EA processes.
    • The Brushy Ridge Project centers around FS 5000 and the Trace Ridge trailhead. Please detail if FS 5000 will remain open during logging and if the public will continue to be able to access Trace Ridge Trailhead.
    • Understory improvement is slated to occur in a stand which overlaps Trail #353, North Mills River. Please specify if heavy vehicles will be used to access the area, if the trail will be used by heavy vehicles, and if the trail will remain open during logging activities.
    • In general, please address any closures which may occur in any areas during the logging project.
    • Trail #354, Trace Ridge, has seen significant damage on a few short portions as the result of recent heavy rains. We request that you consider slating improvement of the trail tread in this project, preferably by a professional trail contractor. A re-location may be necessary.
    • Please specify if the 3.0 miles of existing roads to be added to Forest’s Inventory will be open to mountain bikes and what level of management those roads will be kept at. Please consider a road-to-trail conversion and adding this corridor to the trail inventory rather than the roads inventory.
    • Please specify if the 1.1 miles of new road to be built would be open to mountain bikes and what level of management those roads will be kept at. Please consider a road-to-trail conversion and adding this corridor to the trail inventory rather than the roads inventory.
    • Many corridors shown as trails on Trails Illustrated #780 are actually considered roads in the Forest inventory. We ask that you consider immediately declaring any trail on #780 as removed from the roads inventory.
    Again, we’d prefer it if the size of this project were greatly reduced to focus on the improvement of recreational activities and forest restoration, not timber harvest. If the project is going to move forward as planned, we request that you address all the points listed above. We’d also like to take this opportunity to state there is a need for additional development of recreational resources in the area; we’d particularly support the conversion of old roads to trails rather than incorporating them into the road inventory.
    Thanks for your continued efforts to protect one of our greatest national treasures- our forests!

  27. #27
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    There were 6 or so mountain bikers at the meeting last night. The SORBA letter has some great talking points for others to adopt and develop. Though the deadline for comment is officially ending today, the FS will consider comments through to about the 15th.

    I will post a few other talking points when I am done with my letter, but here are a few thoughts:

    -The FS should hold another public meeting. FS was not very prepared, did not have enough maps or answers in the first. Also, they need to hold public meetings in the evening when the public can in fact come. Holding a public meeting when the public is working feels more like a fleecing of the public.

    -Work has already happened on the never ending road. Previous condition of road was likley meeting the management objectives for that classification of USFS road. The recent grading work seems to be putting the cart before the horse. The NEPA process is intended to help make decisions, not justify decisions already made. Doing road grading and creating pull outs (loading decks) on a FS road before the EA has come out seems to violate USFS policy.

    -The FS should perform a full a full economic analysis of this proposed project. What is the real cost of the project, what is the cost of proposed road building. Will the project lose money as many timber sales do? Timber values are at an all time low. The FS could do an economic analysis of the impacts of recreation in the Brushy Ridge area and how would that be effected if this project moved forward. That report should also weigh the health benefits (to the humans who visit the area) of the trail system and recreation value of the area and how that might be impacted.

    Here is some good info on road management on USFS lands:

    http://www.americanwhitewater.org/co..._id_usfsroads_

    Woody

  28. #28
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    On a related note, is there any logging proposed for Bent Creek? The Forest Service took the grader on South Ridge the other day, similar to what was done to Never-ending. Did a really crappy job, too. Scraped all the packed gravel to the side and left a lot of exposed dirt. Mud and erosion will be inevitable.
    "The Ice Age is comin', the Sun's zoomin' in..."

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  29. #29
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    Thanks for keeping us informed on this, Mike and Woody. I had hoped to attend the meeting last night but ended up having to work later than expected.

    I'm writing my letter now and it will go in the mail this afternoon.
    More Trails, Not Less

    Adventures in Pisgah

  30. #30
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    I cannot say I am a huge fan personally...but has anyone made REI corporate aware of this situation? They obviously have a retail stake in local trail developments...and they are a very loud voice nationally.

    It would be nice to see their presence in our retail landscape provide some positive impact.

  31. #31
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    jager-
    The REI leaves me very conflicted.
    In general, I am hugely supportive of local businesses. I personally was sorry to see REI move into our area.
    They, however, have really stepped up in their support of PAS. They contacted us independent of any soliciation asking how they can help. They donated immense time and $ to National Trails Day at Richmond Hill and are committed to future support of trail work.
    Will this result in them seeing me purchasing stuff?
    Probably not.
    But, to say they haven't stepped up at all would be false.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brown
    In general, I am hugely supportive of local businesses. I personally was sorry to see REI move into our area.
    As am/was I...on both counts...

    BUT...they can be a loud voice if they choose to...and they have resources available from many major brands that are specifically targeted towards recreation stewardship of public lands...

    Just a thought...No idea if they would be willing to bring national resources to bear on this situation...

  33. #33
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    It wouldn't hurt to ask : " we don't have to see eye to eye to work side by side"....

  34. #34
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    I am all for getting REI involved if they will. Mike, do you have the contact information of the volunteer coordinator person that was at the RH trail day and at the after party. I have seen her at several outdoor events and it seems like she would be a good person to approach.

    On a related note does anyone know any of the Henderson or Buncombe County commissioners? Asheville City Council members? They could potentially have a huge impact on this.

  35. #35
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    Royal F#$% Job

    REI should submit a comment letter, same as everyone else.

    On the Bent Creek front, this was discussed last winter when all of the signs went up at Bent Creek, the FS works very slowly but, expect both Bent Creek and Mills River to be very different when these projects are done.

    The best thing you can do PERSONALLY is write a comment letter and submit it to the FS. Then help PAS by writing an RTP grant for Pisgah and try to get some money to help restore all of the damaged trail. This will take awhile and will in no way give you instant gratification, but will certainly be helpful.

    Finally, Asheville is surrounded by a lot of mature, read VALUABLE, forest and it is all about to begin disappearing along with a lot of the trail that is actually still on the road inventory. It is my opinion that the best thing the club and interested mountain bike riders can do is begin working on relationships with state parks, county parks and city parks to create new mountain biking opportunities in those area. These places do not get logged and are specifically aimed at recreation.

    Soapbox session done.
    -Ben

  36. #36
    drunken pirate
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    My letter is finished and in the mail. I encourage everyone reading this to write their own. The PAS letter that Mike posted is very good but I think that a lot of personal letters will send a strong message.
    More Trails, Not Less

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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwood
    My letter is finished and in the mail. I encourage everyone reading this to write their own. The PAS letter that Mike posted is very good but I think that a lot of personal letters will send a strong message.
    Can you post your letter? It is always helpful for folks to see others letters (or emails) as it can help to generate thoughts and talking points.

    Great to see some many folks getting involved in USFS issues. I can remember Chuck, Julie White and I writing an administrative appeal to a USFS decision many years ago.

    Woody

  38. #38
    drunken pirate
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    Can you post your letter? It is always helpful for folks to see others letters (or emails) as it can help to generate thoughts and talking points.

    Great to see some many folks getting involved in USFS issues. I can remember Chuck, Julie White and I writing an administrative appeal to a USFS decision many years ago.

    Woody
    Actually I can't. My printer is broken so I did it the old fashioned way - hand written. I was eager to get it out and didn't want something as trivial as a printer holding me up
    More Trails, Not Less

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  39. #39
    drunken pirate
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    I just got off the phone with Randy Burgess. He called me after reading my letter. It is nice to know that it was read and that he took the time to call to address some of my concerns. We'll see what happens from here.
    More Trails, Not Less

    Adventures in Pisgah

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    Good to hear that he is taking the time and values your input enough to call you. I wrote a letter and encourage everyone else to. From the meetings I went to it seems that public comments have the potential to greatly change the scope and focus of the project. It may just be wishful thinking but it can't hurt.

    IF YOU ARE READING THIS TAKE THE TIME TO EMAIL IN A COMMENT!

    It does not have to take more than five minutes. Simply say something to the affect of, I am an avid user of the forest and want the focus of the Brushy Ridge project to be the restoration of the forest and improvement of recreational opportunities within it, not the harvesting of timber. The more thought and detail the better but numbers mean a lot.

    email comments to: [email protected]

  41. #41
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    thanks for the link. I know zero about forrestry and it was probably a lame letter that I just emailed, but hopefully you're right about numbers.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by litespeedchick
    thanks for the link. I know zero about forrestry and it was probably a lame letter that I just emailed, but hopefully you're right about numbers.
    Thanks! ANY input that they receive from us is a good thing.

  43. #43
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    Can someone post a map of the areas in Mills River that are to be logged?

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    http://www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/nepa/Pi...ge_scoping.pdf


    Scoping letter from the FS. Last page is the map you are looking for. It is a little hard to discern but be sure the logging planned is extensive and will greatly affect the recreational opportunities of mills river.

  45. #45
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    My comment letter

    Here is my comment letter to the USFS on the Brushy Ridge proposed project:

    Pisgah Ranger District
    1001 Pisgah Highway
    Pisgah Forest, North Carolina 28768
    Attn: Ranger Randy Burgess

    Randy,

    I know that I am late with this comment letter to the Brushy Ridge Project. Though the trail construction side of our business is slow, I have been very busy doing trail planning, design, writing management plans and doing assessment work and therefore am just now getting around to writing my comment letter on this proposed USFS project. We are hoping that the ARRA will help with some good construction projects on USFS lands and maybe even some local work on trails in Pisgah. My work has recently been mostly out of the area and that complicates me focusing on things happening in my “back yard”.

    Despite being late with these comments, I hope that you can still consider them in developing the scope of the EA for Brushy Ridge. I had plans to get over that way for a ride and inspection of some of the proposed action areas but that never happened.

    I have a range of concerns about the current scope of the Brushy Ridge Project and also some general comments on forest management. I was unable to attend the public meeting as it was held during a time when most working folks are in fact working, so my comments are coming from a point of limited information. I would request that in the future any and all public meetings be held during non business hours so working folks can better attend. This seems to better serve the concept of public involvement. I realize this means USFS folks are working during non normal business hours, but that seems reasonable to ask of you given that many of us volunteer many hours our off time to improve trail conditions on the district or perform many other volunteer duties.

    As I am sure you are aware, much of the area in question in this proposed project is heavily visited by many recreational users. At first glance of the information provided by the USFS for this project, the impacts to the recreational experience have not been adequately considered. There is no way that the proposed amount of forest management activities can not have a negative impact (that may be permanent) on the recreational user’s experience and perception of the USFS. Timber harvest projects located close to and/or within viewsheds of heavily used trails more often than not lead to a degraded forest experience and negative impressions on forest management. The scope of this project should consider the impacts to recreation and the goals should be to improve (not degrade) the experience of forest visitors and trail users.

    The economic impact of trails is well documented and trails in this Mills River area are no exception. Many mountain bikers and other recreational users come to visit our area due to a large trail inventory and the beauty of our mountains. In this current economic situation we are in, doing anything that might harm the eco-tourism of western NC seems like a bad idea. Additionally, the market price for timber right now is at a 10+ year low and therefore any large scale timber sale seems to lack logic. I would request an economic impact study of this proposed action as part of the EA process. This should include the following components: how much will the FS make (or more likely lose) on these proposed actions, and a study of what impacts the proposed actions might have on visitation to this part of Pisgah District.

    Some level of forest management would be acceptable to the recreating public but care must be given to fit such into this specific area of high use. These activities should focus on the following: control of invasive species, protection of all water courses located in the proposed project area with trail stabilization and better water management on trails, removal of mono culture forested areas and returning these areas to a more native forest with a blend of some conifers but hardwood domination, controlled burning to reduce fuels build up and promote more open under story which benefits some wildlife species, and the creation of small food plots of natural clearing shapes (linear wildlife openings do not at all mimic natural forest openings).

    Forest management activities not generally favored by many forest visitors and recreational users in high trail concentration areas include: heavy timber harvest and removal, any activity located very close to any trail corridor, building of new roads to access timber plots, upgrading of roads to a higher classification if these roads are used as recreational corridors (which many are) for loop configurations, converting corridors currently inventoried as trails into forest management roads (i.e. as planned for a portion of Lower Trace Ridge Trail), any activity that produces an extensive increase of sunlight to the forest floor close to trails thus making the trail experience more exposed to sunlight and increased heat index during summer months (such activity is also the root cause for the increase of invasive species), and a lack of good oversight and inspection of many timber harvest activities this resulting is a general mess and scar on the landscape condition (which seems to be the norm).

    Recreational use of Pisgah District has seen a dramatic increase in the past 10-15 years, and yet little has been done to account for this increase. Mountain biking specifically has seen explosive growth in use on the district, but we have seen a net decrease in trail opportunities for this growing user group. To the best of my knowledge, the only addition to trails inventory open to bikes was the building of Green’s Lick in Bent Creek in 2006. On the flipside, there has been a inventory decline in that many trail opportunities have been degraded or lost altogether in this timeline.

    The decrease in trail mileage and opportunity for mountain bikes can be contributed to several decisions and past timber projects including:


    -The 2002 LWO decision closed many different roads to mountain bikes which collectively totaled many miles of road previously open to bikes. This decision was made despite any good science at that time that bikes have any great impact as compared with hiking activities (which is still allowed on these roads). Research released since the time of this DN and FONSI has continued to reveal that impacts of mountain biking are similar to those of hiking, most notably the Dr. Jeff Marion report and study from Big South Fork NRA.

    -The loss of Sienard Ridge loop as a single track experience due to upgrades to road and timber sales lining both sides of this corridor. The views of Looking Glass certainly are good, but this loop as a desired single track mountain bike ride (or hike) has been lost forever.

    -A number of miles of trail lost at Bent Creek to recent timber activities when inventoried trail received upgrades to road timber extraction widths. Some of these were scheduled to be permanent while other roads were meant to be temporary (Little Hickory Top TR#136) and the EA called for input and involvement from the mountain bike community to help the FS formulate a plan to return these to “pre work conditions” for a more trail like experience. SORBA did in fact meet with John Brooks in 2007 to look at this but none of our suggestions for road to trail conversion have been implemented. Additionally, I contacted FS staff about the possibility of holding a post PTBA Conference workshop on road to trail conversion back in Feb 2009 and was told “Thanks, but at this time we are not interested in such a workshop”. We ended up holding this workshop (and many others) at nearby DuPont State Forest where management was happy to receive quality professional level trail work for no cost. For more details, please see: http://www.trailbuilders.org/confere...adToTrail.html

    Given this net loss of good trail riding opportunity on Pisgah District, I would suggest that any proposed project for the Brushy Ridge area should focus on recreation improvement and not heavy forest extraction. Some specific ideas include:

    -Reduce the size and scope of all timber harvest activities as part of this proposal.

    -All and any roads to be created for timber harvest should be located to help form recreational trail loops instead of being the typical dead-end extraction route. All of these should be considered for road to trail conversion after any forest management activity.

    -Design and build some new trails. The current plan calls for 3.1 miles of road building but no increase in the trail inventory. This follows a typical pattern for the USFS and we have seen a significant increase in the road inventory in Pisgah but not an increase in trail mileage. One specific suggestion for a new trail would include building a single track trail from the termination of Rd# 5051 to connect to Laurel Mountain Trail (#121) near Rich Gap to provide a shorter loop option. Another suggestion for a trail need is a Downhill only mountain bike trail which reflects a newer style of riding. Building such would help to reduce conflict with other user groups but also uphill riders. Currently, trails like Trace Ridge get shuttled with pick ups at Wash Creek and drop offs on the parkway. If a DH specific trail was built with good elevation drop and easy access, pressure would be taken off of trails like Trace Ridge which receive heavy traffic and therefore using this for shuttle runs creates unsafe conditions and use conflict.

    -Perform a full trails assessment of this area and develop a trail management plan for complex of trails found in this area. Many (most) of the trails in this project area are old extraction routes (roads) and do not meet USFS sustainability guidelines. Even trails that are on contour such as Fletcher Gap Trail (#140) need work as they did not have any undulation to effectively manage water. Other trails such as Trace Ridge are fall line ridge trails and should be considered for re-location in some places and formal road to trail conversion work in other places that can be sustained with additional work. There are few trails (likely none) in that complex that are sustainable in their locations and current status and most if not all need some level of maintenance and/or re-construction.

    Management plan suggestions should focus on better water management, armoring steep pitches, and reducing the over all soil loss of trails and the negative impact to natural eco-systems that comes from extensive soil loss near waterways (which are ever present in this and many other areas in Pisgah). Emphasis should be placed on trails with a more rustic feel (as compared with Bent Creek) and narrower tread, but all trails need to be brought to more sustainable standards. The reservoir was dredged last year and trail stabilization and improved water management will help to protect that investment.

    -Protect all trail corridors from timbering activities. Streams and rivers are protected with buffer zones, and likewise trails should be considered linear recreation facilities that receive a similar level of protection.

    I will however admit to recent visits to areas with heavy timber and forest management activities where the trails were still very much fun to be on. I was invited to speak at the World Mountain Bike Conference in Scotland back and May and scheduled a trip to visit trails in the UK. The conference ended up canceling due to the world economic crises, but I went over for 3 weeks anyway. I did have a full one day meeting with Forestry Commission UK staff (about 12 of them) to discuss trail management and professional trail contracting. We visited 9 or so mountain bike centers in Scotland, Wales, and northern England located in what they call Forest Parks and many had very active forest management programs including timber harvesting.

    They do not however build new roads for timber harvesting which reduces the over all impact of such. Additionally, the trails were so well done (with heavy investments in the trail systems) that riding though timbered areas were still very rewarding. I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience if interested to share many photos of how this was done.

    Thank you for considering my comments on this proposed upcoming action. I look forward to continued involvement and volunteer work on Pisgah District.

    Woody Keen
    President- Trail Dynamics LLC
    President- Professional TrailBuilders Association
    Certified NC Clear Water Contractor
    PO Box 664
    Cedar Mountain NC 28718
    [email protected]

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