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Nantahala Pisgah Forest Plan To Be Released, Public Comment Period Will Open

Lilly Knoepp
The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests total over a million arces combined.

  After years of waiting, the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Plan is being released this month.   

The Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan has been in development for over five years. 


“I think one of the downsides of it being such a long drawn out process is that it's easy to even forget it's happening.”  


That’s Lang Hornthanl. He’s  part of the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership. The group of over 25 organizations has been collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service throughout the process. The plan is a strategic framework for how the over 1 million acres of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will be managed for the next 10 years.


“It's really important to remind folks that is coming out  not only from an awareness piece, just so they know it's finally out,” says Hornthanl.”  “And that they're able to read it themselves and comment.” 


The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership includes groups from the timber and recreation industries, as well as conservationists and economic development officials. They have been meeting about once a month for years. 


“The work we've been putting in is a microcosm of probably what needs to happen with a lot of problems going on in the world today - folks sitting on a table that you might not agree with but trying to find common solutions,” says Hornthanl.  


Hornthal is with EcoForesters, a nonprofit forest management organization.  He hopes the Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership has been able to compromise on enough issues that most of the public will be happy with the plan. 


“I would also encourage folks to look at it through the eyes of folks that you might not be that familiar with,” says Hornthal.  


When the draft is released this month, the public will have 90daysto comment on it before the Forest Service begins to finalize the plan.  Previous drafts received an unprecedented number of public comments - over 20,000.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.