Forest Service postpones plan release, citing deluge of public comments

Over 22,000 public comments on the Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Plan have flooded the Forest Service. Over 92 percent of the comments support more protected areas.

The 1.1-million-acre Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is the second-most-popular national forest in the country, so it’s not entirely surprising that it has elicited so much public feedback.

As a result, the Forest Service has decided to postpone the release of their final draft plan until early 2019, citing the unprecedent volume of public comments they have received. The additional time will enable the Forest Service to integrate public feedback into the final draft plan.

We applaud the Forest Service for taking the time to comprehensively evaluate the public feedback they have received. It’s a courageous and commendable step to ensure that the final plan has broad and lasting support.

Never before has the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina received so many public comments on a forest plan. And never before has there been such vast and overwhelming support for more protected areas. 20,454 comments favor more, stronger, and permanent protections for Pisgah; 1,711 comments were against protected areas or wanted more logging.

We appreciate the Forest Service for providing many public comment opportunities and for listening to forest users’ overwhelming support for protected areas. And we are hopeful that the voices and values expressed in the public comments will be reflected in the final plan.