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Discussion Starter #1
Could be better, could be worse pretty much sums it up.

Guaranteed trail impact: Lower Trace down to the river (the massively eroded part) will be used for timber extraction and will be re-graded.
There will be two spots in the last 1/2 mile of Upper Trace where an old road crosses the trail. This old road will be used for extraction and will be re-graded, so there will some impact on the trail tread.

Potential other impacts: Logging occurs very very close to Bear Branch and Wash Creek trails. The FS claims the trails will not be impacted, but, well, you know...
Understory removal will occur near North Mills River trail. Again, no claimed impact, but, well, you know...

Road use for extraction will have the biggest impact. Talking wiith people towards the end of the meeting, we realized there''s a good chance that a lot of the area will get CLOSED to all traffic during logging operations- in other words, no access to Never-Ending Road or maybe even Trace Ridge Trailhead for an extended period of time. As always, I have great concerns regarding what conditions the roads will be left in during extraction.

If you can think of a gated or non-gated road in the Mills River area, it will be used for extraction during this project.

There are no plans for any trail improvements/work as part of the project.

PAS will be writing a formal comment in the near future.
We had great turn-out from the MTB community compared to past, similar open houses. Thanks Chuck, Drew, Park, Julie, Jody (the man of many hats) , Jeff for being there.
If any of you think I missed anything, please post.

Mike
 

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Mills River logging

I was at the "open house" and appreciate everyone who made it. No time for extensive comments right now, but briefly:

The event was the predictable snow job. It was carefully engineered to deflect and dissipate any opposition. Snap out of the trance, folks. They're preparing to subject one of the most beautiful valleys in the region to a ten year period of logging. They're going to log off patches of the most mature hardwoods. If you like this idea, do nothing and it will happen. If you don't, get organized and work to stop it. I believe it can be stopped.

I think goal one should be to extend the comment period.

Jonathan
 

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Discussion Starter #4
skywagondriver said:
I was at the "open house" and appreciate everyone who made it. No time for extensive comments right now, but briefly:

The event was the predictable snow job. It was carefully engineered to deflect and dissipate any opposition. Snap out of the trance, folks. They're preparing to subject one of the most beautiful valleys in the region to a ten year period of logging. They're going to log off patches of the most mature hardwoods. If you like this idea, do nothing and it will happen. If you don't, get organized and work to stop it. I believe it can be stopped.

I think goal one should be to extend the comment period.

Jonathan
I agree with everything you say here...the impact of this project on the valley overall will be enormous and, in my opinion, atrocious.

Comments from PAS will include a brief commentary on the overall proposal, but there are several strong primarily environmental organizations which will submit comments. As probably the most active trail advocacy organization, we'll be emphasing recreational impacts more than environmental.

Mike
 

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NC_dirtsurfer said:
Is there a estimate of when the carnage will begin?

Eric ||
The comment period is set to end July 10th. I agree I think we should try and get that date moved farther out in light of additions to the plan and lack of info.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Y'all- I've been asked this from a couple of places, so here's a clif notes version of the process:

1) This open house was the result of a scoping letter being issued, This essentially is a notice that a project is being planned. We submit committs on the scoping letter, then...
2) An environmental assessment occurs which should (in my opinion, often doesn't) address both set issues all EA's have to look at and the comments submitted. The EA usually includes 2-5 "alternatives" for how the project will actually hit the ground. A second committ period is offered- we should definitely insist on a second open house/form at a more convenient time (in the evening).
3) The ranger for Pisgah District (there's only one actual "ranger" for the district- a pretty decent, honest, and happy guy named Randy Burgess in a job narrowly defined by the bureaucracy he works in) then issues a decision notice specifiying what action will actually occur. This should take into account both the EA and the comment submitted; it's ususally one of the alternatives from the EA.

I've been involved on comments etc for the last two major logging projects in Pisgah District- one on Seinyard Ridge above Cove Creek/Caney/Daniel Ridge Areas and one in the Baldwin Gap area north of North Boundary trail. On Seinyard ridge, it appeared that the comments of the cycling and enviro communities were mostly ignored (my opinion). On Baldwin Gap, it appeared that the comments of the enviro/cycling/hiking communities resulted in the least harmful of the alternatives being chosen- fwiw, the alternative chosen includes a proposal for 6 miles of new trail on that side, leavaing North Boundary about 1/2 way up to Five Points and coming into North Boundary about 1 mile past. That's pretty cool

Hope that helps people understand the process (which is fairly set in stone by USFS p & p's).

EDIT: Oh yeah, timelines- don't expect any actual logging this year, IMO. Early next year would be as early as we'd see, likely later than that. Seinyard ridge happened fast and dirty (literally). Baldwin Gap still hasn't been completed after what, 5 years of work?
 

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Believe it or not, the thinning CAN be beneficial, if it's really thinning & not clear cutting.

I've got family near Stanislaus NF in California, which has been in the thinning process for several years now. Generally it looks like crap for 6-9 months, then it's good to go. At least in CA, they're leaving the biggest/oldest trees behind, and taking harvestable timber from the "middle age" trees.

Of course if they clear cut, then all bets are off. Harvesting certainly WASN'T beneficial when the old Sidehill trail was bulldozed @ Bent Creek...
 

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Just finished riding up at N. Mills River and grading has already begun on the Never Ending Road all the way past the Middle Fork trail head. I actually enjoyed riding this stretch of logging road as it was smooth and overgrown, now it's a bit of a slog with the loose surface from the grading.

Depending on how this project moves forward it would present an opportunity for some much needed trail work in the area if the Forest Service would be agreeable to letting volunteers use the access roads when logging is not occurring. Much of the trail work that needs to be done on trails such as Fletcher Creek, Middle Fork, and Spencer Branch is fairly close to the trail heads off the Never Ending Road.
 

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"Believe it or not, the thinning CAN be beneficial, if it's really thinning & not clear cutting... generally it looks like crap for 6-9 months, then it's good to go."

Been there, done that - several times over in Bent Creek, so I can agree with the recovery process.

I'm not so sure about this particular project - different in a lot of ways. Sounds pretty aggressive.

Still, really miss "ole' sidehill".

:bluefrown:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We always have access to those roads for approved trail work. Part of the advantage oof being an official trail group.
On other hand, we do not have assigned responsibility for any trails in N Mills River- so we cannot, as of today, do any approved trail work in that area.
On the other other hand, MY OPINION(and past experience) is that improving trails is way way down on the list of the people organizing tis project. The only way it happens is if we drag the FS into it.
Sorry for the Sunday am skepticism, no coffee yet.
 

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Will there be another meeting on this? I could not make it on Tuesday due to work being all screwy that day. Just ran out of day.
 

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Dear ECO member and/or friend:

ECO and the WNC Alliance are co-hosting a meeting next Thursday, July 9, to provide
details and a greater level of understanding to our members and the public about the
implications of the Brushy Ridge logging project and how it should be improved. The
Forest Service recently held a public comment session which neglected to focus on the
effects extensive logging could have on water supply in Henderson and Buncombe counties,
not to mention sensitive habitats.

Bob Gale, the Ecologist for the Western North Carolina Alliance, will help lead the
meeting. Bob has spent 15 years in the landscaping industry and remains a certified
Arborist. He also spent 3 years as Director of Field Operations in Wetlands Science for
Ballantine Environmental Resources, Inc. at Hilton Head Island, SC, where he lived for 17
years.

Bob has extensively studied the Forest Services' proposals and has offered input to them
throughout the process. He should be able to provide a comprehensive picture of how this
plan might look if logging was not the major modus operandi. The better educated we are
to the issues, the more engaged we will be on how to make the current proposals better.

The meeting will be at the Henderson County Library in Hendersonville (301 N Washington
St) from 7:00-8:30 pm. We will also have letter writing supplies so you can write a
comment letter that night! The Forest Service needs to hear from all of us so that our
views are taken into account before they finalize their plans.

For more information on the meeting, call Bob Gale at 828.258.8737 or email [email protected]
or contact ECO at 692-0385.

PLEASE READ BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ISSUES AND HOW TO COMMENT.

Return your comments by July 10, 2009

Comments may be mailed to:

Pisgah Ranger District
1001 Pisgah Highway
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina 28768

Or e-mailed to: [email protected].


WE SHOULD HAVE LOTS OF MOUNTAIN BIKERS AT THIS MEETING. I AM IN TOWN NEXT WEEK (for a change) AND CAN MAKE THIS ONE.

WOODY
 

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Just a reminder of the meeting this Thur. at 7PM at the Hville Library. This will be a much more informative meeting than the one hosted by the USFS and is at a time when working folks can make it. There will be easy opportunity to write your comment letter at this meeting, talking points will be provided. The deadline for comments is July 10 so this is your best and last opportunity to have your voice heard.

We need lots of mountain bikers to attend this meeting and/or write comment letters.

Woody
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just FYI:

I rode out at Mills River yesterday and saw the grading on 5013 ("Never Ending Road") that jst... refers to.
While I understand that the FS can "maintain" a road at anytime, the work done goes way beyond maintenance. Turnaround have been re-graded with a track vehicle and the road bed has been essentially widened in many places to accomadate future large logging vehicle traffic. They are definitely prepping the road for logging operations prior to the EA and comment periods being completed.
PAS comments will most likely request an explanation of these actions and I'd suggest some other comments should as well; I can't make the meeting Thursday.
Can you bring this up there, W?
 

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All over that like flies on horse manure sitting in the middle of a trail.

The USFS can not use the NEPA process to justify a decision that has already be made. We may need to remind them of that.

We need to find out what category the Never-Ending Road is currently inventory as, the FS has a class 1-5 for roads (and also a 1-5 for trails).

I recieved the quarterly SOPA (Schedule of Proposed Actions) from the SO (Supervisors Office) yesterday and there is no mention yet of this proposed project.

Every one needs to remember that comments letter now is what really effects the process. Comments to Scoping Letters before an EA is developed must be considered and responded to by the FS. Once the EA is developed, they can only consider alternatives shown (3-5 usually) in the EA.

Woody
 

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afolks said:
There has also been heavy grading on Bradley Creek Road
Please remind me of where that road is?

If that road is an open road, they can maintain it to a set standard allowing for passage of normal vehicles.

Never Ending Road (not sure what it's FS number is) is a gated road and last time I road it I would guess it was more than meeting it's FS standards for such a road and Travel Management Objectives.

Woody
 
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