North Mills River Forest Management Proposal- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    North Mills River Forest Management Proposal

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

    The above link is for a new logging/ forest management proposal that MAY effect many trails in the Mills River Area. When you look at the maps, which do not include trails,"forest management" MAY occur very close to Wash Creek, Bear Branch, TRACE RIDGE, Spencer Branch, Yellow Gap,and North Mills River trails.

    The maps/proposal are unclear on how exactly "Forest management" will occur near these trails.

    There is an open house 6/23/09 from 2:30-4:30pm at the offices of Town of Mills River. Please consider attending this open house and POLITELY expressing the following points to FS personnel:

    1) Any further reports (this is only "stage 1") regarding this project need to detail impact of proposed actions on all trails listed on Trails Illustrated #780.
    2) Any potential impacts on these trails needs to either not occur, be minimal, or occur in the context of improving the sustainability and/or flow of the trail.

    If you come, please be polite and professional in your interactions with the FS. They're mostly good people doing their jobs, just like you and me every day.

    Pisgah Area SORBA will be actively involved in the open house process, will keep the MTB community informed of whatever actions are occuring, and will submit written comments by the due date of 7/10 listed in the link above.

    Your participation, however, is still needed. Numbers count.

    Mike

  2. #2
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    On Point!

    Thanks for spreading the word, Mike- you're an asset to the whole WNC MTB scene.

    SAFC's forest watch people are also working on this and we'll share any info, talking points that might be helpful.
    Dirtbag since '89

  3. #3
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    A little look...

    Hey Mike taking a peak at the info, looks like they plan to turn a lot of the double track back into full on gravel roads for logging operations. Think the old Sidehill before it became a huge gravel road. Then, it looks like they will open up the last part of Trace Ridge back into a road for extractions as well. Looks like the bottom of Big Creek will be turned back into a road as well. Most of the rest of the single track should be unaffected. If I can make a strategic suggestion, understand they will do SOMETHING, it is best if they think us their partners instead of their enemies. If I were at the meeting, I would request they not do anything that may effect current singletrack and try to have those trails (Trace Ridge, Bear Branch, Spencer Branch and Gap, Big Creek, and Wash Creek) then removed from the Road System Catalog. This should only reduce their project by around 15%. Do not resist them on the rebuilding and resurfacing all of the double track. You could also try and see if they would allocate a budget for some trail work along with the campsite fixes.

    The project also means there will be many closures in this area to come. Just like the Alamo, "Remember the (Bent Creek)."

    Ben

  4. #4
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    Ben- thanks.
    You're way better at overlaying those whacky coding boxes they used onto the TI map than I am.

    I'll take a close look at that tommorrow and I'm sure we'll do some formal strategizing beforehand.

  5. #5
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    Bummer. From the look of the map Mills River is going to be greatly affected by this. We need to do everything we can to have our voice heard and limit impact to our trails. I will be at the open house meeting and will try and decipher the 'map' before then. What else can we do before the meeting? We should look at this as an opportunity to work with the FS.

    In the future we should try and be proactive in limiting the logging potential of our forest. From my understanding the Laurel Mountain area is a designated road-less corridor and this makes it much less likely to be logged. We should look into finding other designations or factors that will make sections of the forest less favorable to logging.

    What is their time frame for these proposed actions?

    Do they even make money off of the timber harvests?

  6. #6
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    Better Maps Needed...

    As the USFS' Ted Oprean is listed as the team leader for the Brushy Ridge proposals, I have emailed him and requested that the scoping letter's maps be revised to include area trails. I'll post again when I get a response, and hope to be able to post links to better maps...
    Later,
    TZ
    Geriatric mountain biker and trail maintainer... ...with digital braking!

  7. #7
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    Maps with trails received...

    This morning I received PDFs of updated maps from the USFS' Michael Hutchins. These maps show the impact of the Brushy Ridge proposal on area trails. The updated maps will also be added to the USFS Brushy Ridge proposal posting. I tried posting them here, but their size exceeds the forum's file size limits, so interested parties will have to wait until they're added to the USFS posting, or email me directly and I'll send you your very own map set. A quick review of map 2 suggests that Bear Branch and Trace Ridge trails may be impacted by "thinning" operations...
    Regards,
    TZ
    Geriatric mountain biker and trail maintainer... ...with digital braking!

  8. #8
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    Some additional info and some great talking points for comment letters:

    Dear ECO member and/or friend:

    ECO has teamed up with the WNC Alliance to bring you this important alert.

    It is critically important that everyone who values our high quality public lands for
    their ecological and recreational resources attend the Forest Service open house meeting
    on Tuesday, June 23, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. to register your concerns and questions about
    this project.

    The open house will take place at:
    The offices of the Town of Mills River,
    5046 Highway 280, Suite 3 in Mills River.

    Background:

    On June 9 the U.S. Forest Service published a proposal to conduct a wide-ranging array of
    logging activities in one of Pisgah National Forest's most popular recreation areas. The
    Brushy Ridge Project, as it is called, would involve logging that would remove most of
    the canopy from 306 acres of mountain forest and thin another 1,876 acres to improve
    growth of trees that would be logged at a future date. The area involved includes much of
    the National Forest land in the North Mills River Watershed and all of the Forest Service
    land in the Avery Creek Watershed. This project area contains examples of almost every
    type of valuable resource present on public lands in the Southern Appalachians, as well
    as nearly every threat possible to these resources.

    The proposed project area sees heavy recreation uses, such as camping, hiking, fishing,
    hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, and nature study. It is also an area of high
    ecological significance. The North Mills River is a source of drinking water for Buncombe
    and Henderson Counties, is one of North Carolina's most popular trout fishing streams,
    contains a population of rare hellbenders and other rare aquatic life, and is home to the
    Foster Creek Bog, one or the few bogs remaining in the North Carolina mountains and one
    of such high quality that it provides habitat for state and federally listed rare,
    threatened and endangered species. The mature forests offer scenic views from the Blue
    Ridge Parkway nearby.

    A map of the project area shows a virtual checkerboard of numerous intrusions into the
    forested habitat of the North Mills River watershed. In addition to these activities, the
    Forest Service is proposing to build 1.1 miles of new roads and 1 mile of "temporary"
    roads (which are, in fact, new roads) into currently intact interior forest, and also
    intends to reconstruct 3 miles of old roads that have grown up in forest and add them to
    the transportation system, making them permanent avenues which could be used for future
    logging operations.

    The project proposal does include some positive activities, including designating 4 small
    patches of old growth forest stands, correcting a number of problem areas such as
    campsites, parking areas and horse trails that are contributing to stream erosion/
    sedimentation.

    But the Forest Service has been promoting the need for restoration of public lands over
    the last two years, and this project is clearly not focusing on restoration. Instead, it
    has all of the earmarks of the "get-out-the-cut" timber sales of a previous era, with a
    few token restoration additions thrown in.


    Talking Points:

    Here are some major concerns and questions that the Forest Service has not addressed. You
    can raise any or all of these at the open house:

    Forest Restoration

    Restoration, not logging, needs to be the primary goal of Brushy Ridge Project activities.
    Timbering should only be one tool to accomplish this. True timber-oriented restoration
    must include removing monocultures from previous activities and restoring a mixed
    hardwood/pine species mix.
    Forest structure needs to be restored, with activities enhancing the floor, shrub,
    understory and overstory levels. White pine plantations must removed and overstocked
    tulip poplar stands should be thinned. These silvicultural activities should only occur
    near existing roads and avoid areas of rare species and steep slopes.

    No New Roads

    The project area is already laced with an overbuilt, unsustainable network of roads for
    which it lacks the funding to maintain. Existing roads (from previous logging operations)
    have resulted in invasion of exotic plants that threaten to displace the area's native
    plant species.
    The existing roads have already caused fragmentation of the interior forest, impacting
    native wildlife species. More roads will further reduce the forest canopy, add to
    increased micro-climate temperatures, and increase carbon dioxide levels while reducing
    carbon sequestration.

    Address Trail Needs

    Create a well designed trail System by linking existing trails in a network which would
    reduce traffic.
    Convert appropriate roads to trails. Close road segments that are currently problematic
    and poorly placed.

    Invasive Exotic Plants

    Complete an inventory of invasive exotic plant species and locations.
    Prioritize areas for control based upon immediate/greatest threats to native species.
    Begin focused control efforts with repeated monitoring and treatments each year.
    Please come and comment about this very important project!

    For more information contact WNC Alliance at:
    [email protected] or

  9. #9
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    Woody, thank you for posting that, it looks like we are not alone in realizing the breadth and severity of the proposed actions of the Forest Service.

    The link from the OP has the updated maps with trails marked on it. Should we prepare written letters for the meeting or are prepared talking points enough? Can we smuggle in some endangered owls to the Mills River Valley?

    I will be at the meeting Tuesday and hope to see as many people as possible there. Thanks.

  10. #10
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    Comments are not due for a short time after the public meeting. The meeting is really more of an open house affair (I think, at least this is how they usually do this). The Forest Circus uses the meeting as an opportunity to present what they are thinking to the public. The public (us) can then respond via comments (emails and letters) with concerns and things we want the FS to consider in the project. If you want to see more trails in that area and the ones there worked on to bring them up to sustainable standards, that needs to go in the letters. If they don't have those comments now, at a latter date when the EA comes out and they ask for comments to the EA (Environmental Assessment) it is too late. The comments now will help shape the EA process and help to develop 3 or 4 alternatives to the whole project. One alternative will be 'no action" meaning that nothing will happen and at the opposite end of the spectrum one alternative will call for more logging and meddling with the land (spraying herbicides to kill the invasive species which get there in the first place due to the logging and the change in light patterns to the forest floor).

    I am out of town next week doing trail planning work in Louisville KY so will miss the meeting. We need as many mountain bikers as possible at this meeting and someone taking good notes so we can develop a strategy for our comments and what we want to see in the project.

    As an FYI, I spent 3 weeks in Scotland and Wales in May and there is much more active forest management (read timber harvesting) going on there than anywhere I have ever been (small country UK with limited timber resources, lots of pasture lands and sheep instead of forest). The trails were done so well over there that riding through clear cuts was fun, I have never said that before. Many trails over the pond are surfaced hardened to provide for all weather riding (it rains way more there than here in Pisgah, some places in Wales and Scotland get 100-150' per year). Lots of 2-3' surfaced singletrack trail through timber harvest areas that had amazing good flow and therefore was super fun. Maybe one of these days I will learn how to post some photos here. I will be doing a slideshow as part of our July SORBA work weekend at DuPont, check that post here on MTBR for more details.

  11. #11
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    I will be there. I'll be in Asheville working and I will adjust my schedule. I will also get the word out down here in SC and try to get some people to go to the meeting.

    This affects us in SC also! Please do what you can to get involved. I know alot of people down here that ride in North Mills. Thanks for posting about this.

  12. #12
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    Not 150 Feet...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    ...some places in Wales and Scotland get 100-150' per year...
    Make that 100-150 INCHES per year, Woodman!!!

    TZ
    Geriatric mountain biker and trail maintainer... ...with digital braking!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailZen
    Make that 100-150 INCHES per year, Woodman!!!

    TZ

    Second time I have done that, yes it is 100-150" per year. Sorry bout that.

    Maybe I am still all confused from the trip. Over the UK, they have a stage method of measure:

    -If you are on a road, they measure in miles, but if on a trail they give distance in Kilometers.

    -Temperature is measured in metric until if gets warm, if it gets over 70 degrees Fahrenheit they use that measure.

    And they drive on the wrong side of the road. Dam nice trails though, hope to go back next year.

    W.

  14. #14
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    Meeting schedule

    All,

    I just opened my hard copy of this scoping letter (received in the mail) and noticed the time for the public open house meeting: 2:30-4:30 on Tuesday June 23.

    That is complete BS. That is not a time when many folks can attend a meeting. Everyone reading this needs to send an email as soon as you read this to the email address listed for comments and note that the USFS needs to schedule public meetings when the public can attend. Evening open house meetings from 6-9PM are best for including the public. You can also send that type of comment to Michael Hutchins who is the NEPA coordinator for Pisgah, his email is [email protected]

    I will be sending my comments on requesting another open house public meeting in the AM, and will target other FS folks as well as Michael as I have email addresses for many of them including District Ranger Randy Burgess.

    Anybody who can attend on Tuesday would be good, we need to make sure the Forest Circus hears from the recreating public on this project.

    Woody

  15. #15
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    Here is my email to Randy Burgess (District Ranger) and Terry Seyden (Information Officer) with the USFS calling for an additional public meeting:

    "I have received the scoping letter for the proposed Brushy Ridge project. I am shocked to learn that the public meeting for this is in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday. The FS needs to consider holding an additional open house (public meeting) during a time when the public can realistically attend. Evenings seem to make sense to get the public involved, and that is the point of a public scoping process.

    I will not be able to attend this meeting as scheduled but am very interested in the impacts to recreation in this area."



    We need to bombard the FS with this type of email, and of course begin making specific comments about the project (which is hard to do with the little amount of information they have given us so far).

    Woody

  16. #16
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    I Plan to Attend...

    Woodman, et al--
    Checked my schedule and found that I can attend the USFS Brushy Ridge meeting in Mills River. I agree that the meeting time doesn't play well for most of the public, but simply having a meeting for public input (after sending out the scoping letter) meets the letter of law...

    Folks who would like to become more effective in a 'watchdog' role on Pisgah and other USFS districts should become familiar with IMBA's "Guide to Planning and the USFS" at

    http://www.imba.com/resources/organi...t_toolkit.html

    Regards,
    TZ
    Geriatric mountain biker and trail maintainer... ...with digital braking!

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