By Dave Saville
The Upper Greenbrier North project, a large project area at over 80,000 acres, has been designed to be implemented over a longtime period, ten years. While the project area is large (landscape (watershed) scale), activities planned in the project will touch only 10%of this area. Analyzing the entire watershed allows the agency to do a better job on cumulative and watershed effects. It does not meanthat the entire area will have projects occurring. The project has been broken up into three parts to make it easier to understand and planfor. 1- Watershed and Recreation, 2-Timber, 3-Spruce restoration.
The first decision (watershed and recreation) was signed August 15th. The timber and spruce restoration portions are to follow. The Highlands Conservancy has been partnering with the Forest Service on the spruce restoration planning and the decision for that part of the project has not been made yet. We do not think what the Forest Service is planning is unwise. In fact, most of what the project is proposing is fully supported by the WVHC including recreational improvements, road decommissioning, spruce restoration, wildlife habitat improvements and more.
The timber decision is planned to be made later this year, but the project does not plan to log in any northern West Virginia flying squirrel sites. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for protecting the squirrel, was consulted on the project and has concurred with the plan. While some WVHC members may object to the relatively small amount of logging that will take place in this project over the next ten years, the agency is doing its job by implementing the Forest Plan, which the Highlands Conservancy was intimately engaged in developing, and did not appeal or challenge, when it was developed. The Forest Service manages the National Forest for “multiple-uses” which includes timber, as mandated by Congress. Compared to historical standards, the timbering component of this project is minimal.
The Forest Service personnel developing this project are dedicated professionals and include wildlife biologists, recreational planners, soil scientists, ecologists, fisheries biologists and others. This planning team has been working for over 6 years to study the area, gather input from the public, and develop this proposal. They are very interested and receptive to the public’s concerns and would welcome anyone to help monitor or be involved with the project. I suggest that anyone interested in learning more contact Jack Tribble, the Greenbrier District Ranger, who is the Forest Service official responsible for developing and implemneting this project. I am sure that he would be happy to discuss the project or even take you for a site visit to look over the actual areas. He can be contacted at 304-456-3335 ext. 116 or at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. The agency encourages the public to get involved and we need you to care!!