Environmentalists, local governments oppose Pisgah National Forest plan
The U.S. Forest Service has wrapped up a week of meetings in Asheville on a new management plan for the Pisgah National Forest. The proposal has been a decade in the making, and faces widespread opposition.
The most controversial part of the plan would allow logging in about half the forest, including areas of old-growth trees.
Will Harlan is a biologist and lead organizer for the I Heart Pisgah Coalition. He says the plan needs to focus on preservation.
"We need stronger rules in place," Harlan said. "We need more protected areas in place to ensure that our drinking water is healthy and clean, our rare species are protected, our beloved trails and scenery are protected."
The city of Asheville, Buncombe County, and a host of environmental groups have objected. Harlan says a legal challenge is likely if the logging expansion is in the final version of the plan, which will be released later this year.
"The good news is that the Forest Service can still fix this plan," he said. "If they take some of the suggestions they've heard at these objection meetings they can very easily fix this plan before they finalize it."