Action Alert

Dec. 14, 2017
Your Voice Is Important 
Tell the Forest Service How You Want the Foothills Managed!
Photo by Jess Riddle

The wait is finally over. The Forest Service is seeking public comments on its "Proposed Action for the Foothills Landscape Project." Comments are due by December 22, 2017 .

The Foothills Project encompasses 143,419 acres in the Conasauga, Blue Ridge and Chattooga River Ranger Districts, and will guide management activities for 10 years. The project is a "restoration project intended to assist in the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed."

It is the first of its kind in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests not only because of its size, but also because the Forest Service solicited public input before developing the project. Input from the public and other stakeholders was collected for over a year through public meetings, field trips, and online bulletin boards. This was done so the Forest Service could plan the "right work in the right places for the right reasons."

Proposed Action
The "Proposed Action for the Foothills Landscape Project" includes plans to potentially log up to 90,000 acres of forest (63% of the project area). The logging ranges from just taking down midstory trees to cutting everything except a few seed trees. Although these numbers do not represent a commitment or even a specific plan from the Forest Service, they are still much higher than proposed in recent timber projects.

Also of concern are changes in the public's opportunity to respond to the project as guaranteed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  In previous projects, the agency has identified specific stands to be managed during the NEPA process. With this information, Forest Watch and the public at large, have had the opportunity to visit the stands in question and see if the proposed management is a good idea or not. On-the-ground investigations by ForestWatch have resulted in important changes to many projects. Under the current Foothills plan, the areas to be cut will not be specified until after the NEPA process has been completed, when public involvement would no longer be guaranteed by NEPA. 

Your voice is needed - and soon!

Comments are due on December 22, 2017.  Click here  to learn how to submit comments. Please tell the Forest Service that we need to know not only what they intend to do, but also where they intend to do it.  And we need that information now, not after a decision is made!

Additional points to raise in a comment letter include:
  • Up to 90,000 acres of forest (63% of the project area) could be logged with a variety of treatments for a variety of purposes. The exact acreage is unclear as the locations and potential overlap of treatments have not been clearly identified.
  • Herbicide application is proposed on up to 63,700 acres for control of "less desirable" native vegetation. Mechanical treatments and fire should be used to control these species where practical.
  • Non-native invasive species are one of the biggest long-term threats to the Foothills. The Forest Service should take advantage of this opportunity to prioritize and develop detailed plans for controlling invasive species across the landscape.
  • Personalize your comments. Tell the agency why the forest is important to you and how the activities proposed in Foothills project would impact those values. Give a specific place if possible.
  • The Forest Service wants to know "whether the Foothills proposal meets people's expectations." Ask the agency not to make any final decisions until it performs site-level analysis.
Please be sure to support the agency's proposed actions to set aside 5,050 acres of old growth, and to improve soil and water quality through better maintenance and closure of roads that are sediment sources.

Thank you for supporting Georgia's national forests!

Foothills Fast Facts

  • Up to 90,000 acres of logging
  • Up to 63,700 acres of herbicide application
  • NEPA compliant?

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    Dahlonega, GA 30533

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