The public comment period for Nantahala Pisgah Forest Plan is coming to a close on June 29.
After over 5 years of discussions and drafts, this draft plan was released in February. The pandemic caused many of the public comment meetings across the region to be cancelled. As a result the deadline for comment was extended by 45 days.
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 to 15 years.
Comments can still be made online at the USDA Forest Service website. After this round of comments are integrated into the plan, a final draft will be presented. Then there will be a five-month objection period. The Forest Service expects that the plan will be released in late 2021.
The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership (NPFP), a collaboration of over 30 organizations that have been working on the plan, is calling on the public to comment.
Specifically, the group supports an increase in overall forest restoration through an increase in recreation resources, conservation, and sustainable timber management.
The group explains in a press release that the draft plan’s four alternatives are not meant to restrict choices, but instead to show the plan’s flexibility.
“The public is not being asked to ‘vote’ for one of the four alternatives, but rather to consider and take the best parts of all four choices. Similarly, the public is not being asked to ‘vote’ on whether or not a proposed action or activity should take place, but rather to suggest an alternative or solution,” states the NPFP.