The U.S. Forest Service is actively restoring over 800 acres within the Nantahala National Forest. The finalized Nantahala Mountains Project emphasizes wildlife habitat improvement, forest health, and resilience. Troy Waskey, the Nantahala District Ranger, highlighted its diverse elements, including wildlife support, native tree restoration, and better trail access for sustainable recreation.
Strategic tree and vegetation removal, along with planned timber harvesting and native tree planting, will allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor. This will create clearings that support native plant communities and foster habitats for various wildlife, benefiting rare plant species like the American columbo.
Previous public projects, Turkey Pen and Red Bird, have been integrated into this initiative. The Forest Service collaborated with several organizations to consider and protect biological, cultural, and recreational resources.
The final Environmental Assessment aligns with the revised Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Plan, emphasizing long-term goals for Appalachian water resources. Notably, the new plan enforces a protective zone of 100 feet around waterways, aiming to improve habitats and reduce road runoff.
The release of the project’s final analysis initiates a 45-day objection period. Only those who previously commented can file objections. This phase aims to resolve any lingering concerns before a final decision is made.