One big problem with the Foothills Landscape Project:
it asks people to give up their rights to participate
for the next 20 years.
Over the years, people like you who care about forests have written to the Forest Service, and your comments have saved majestic oak forests, kept mud out of trout streams, and preserved vistas for the enjoyment of everyone. Now the stakes are higher than ever. Foothills is the biggest project in the history of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Tell the Forest Service how you want this unique area managed.
7/13/2021 Revised Draft Environmental Assessment released
4/28/2021 USFS facilitated virtual conversations.
4/14/2021 USFS facilitated virtual conversations.
1/10/2020 30-Day Comment period ended
12/11/2019 Official 30-Day Comment period began
12/2/2019 Draft Environmental Assessment released
- REVISED Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) 7.13.2021
- Spring 2021 article and update
- Winter 2020 article and update
- ForestWatch Comment – Draft Environmental Analysis (EA) 1.10.20
- Foothills Landscape Project Documents – US Forest Service
- Official Comment Reading Room – All comments over the life of the project
- Compilation of example comments – 1.10.20 comment deadline
- Draft Environmental Assessment – US Forest Service 12.2.2019
- ForestWatch and partner’s comments on project plans 12.22.2017
2019 Example comment letters and topic-specific info on:
In the formal project review The Forest Service refused to identify the specific places they intend to cut trees, apply herbicides, and light fires in the formal project review, so they would be able to do those things across a fifth of the entire Chattahoochee National Forest without having to listen to the public.
We told the Forest Service that they need to give the public site specific information before making a decision.
- Adjacent land owners should be able to tell if the Forest Service is planning to spray herbicide in their backyard.
- Mountain bike riders should be able to tell if they are planning to burn along their favorite trail.
- Trout fishers should be able to tell if they are planning to log around their favorite stream.
This is not asking the Forest Service for anything new.
This is what they have given the public for years.
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Opportunities for you or your organization to participate and key dates regarding the Foothills Landscape Project.
The Foothills Landscape Project spans from the South Carolina border to Chatsworth and encompasses 157,625 acres, more than a fifth of the entire Chattahoochee National Forest. The project includes vegetation, road, and recreation management, and proposes up to 55,000 acres of commercial timber harvests and 63,000 acres of herbicide application. It also includes some of our most cherished places:
- the lower Chattooga River, well-known for whitewater rafting, and one of our major wildlife habitat corridors
- the Jake and Bull Mountain trails, enjoyed by mountain bikers and horseback enthusiasts, and one of the most popular multi-use trail systems on the forest
- Grassy Mountain, home to the biggest block of old growth forest we have left in north Georgia
The Foothills are the gateway to the mountains, and the effects of this project will be difficult to avoid when visiting the mountains. Previously, the Forest Service has pursued logging and land management projects one watershed at a time, leaving similar areas untouched. But with Foothills, they’re doing the entire landscape–and if they take the wrong approach, the whole area will be impacted. The scale of the project and lack of information identifying what and where require us to call on your presence and participation to continuing protecting and preserving the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Here’s the situation: if Foothills goes through as it is currently written, our federal dollars will be funding the following DIRECT IMPACTS to the Chattahoochee National Forest:
This project sets aside actual old-growth forest to be preserved as old-growth! This is good news because ForestWatch has spent many hours out in the forest surveying and identifying these unique areas. The Forest Service is using the best information and protecting the right areas for old-growth!
Experimental logging on over 20,000 acres. If the Forest Service needs to call in researchers to help test new treatments on our forests, they need to start small. Tell the Forest Service to limit their experimental expanding gap and hemlock silviculture treatments to a handful stands.
- 60,000 acres of commercial logging. The Forest Service can find something wrong with any unmanaged forest they meet, and cutting trees is always part of their solution. How many trees they want to cut may differ between a pine ridge and a hardwood cove, and many areas they can’t get to, but they want to cut trees. Tell the Forest Service we can’t cut our way to a healthy forest.
- The project also calls for constructing 360 miles of new dozer lines to facilitate prescribed burning, grinding vegetation to wood chips on up to 83,000 acres, and building an undisclosed amount of “new temporary” roads.
- Up to 74,500 acres of herbicide application. In conjunction with timber harvests, mixtures containing undisclosed chemicals would be applied directly to the forest, and the people spraying the chemicals won’t be watching out for blueberries, persimmons, azaleas, or hundreds of other species that make our forests so amazing. The Forest Service has other ways to accomplish the same goals, like prescribed fire. Tell the Forest Service we can’t spray our way to a healthier forest.
2020 Official Comment (ForestWatch and Partners):
…The staff of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest has clearly put significant time and energy into this project, which we greatly appreciate. But they are being told to force a square peg through a round hole – and its shows. As a result, these comments are overwhelmingly critical of the analysis in the Draft EA but they are certainly not critical of the staff or the effort they have put forward. We know the agency can complete sufficient analysis; we have seen it do so before. Its flawed pursuit of condition-based management has led it far afield here.
Every major concern raised in this letter has been brought to your attention previously, most of them over two years ago. We paired our concerns with suggested resolutions that would allow the agency to expeditiously pursue its goals, including, in the spirit of partnership, goals we do not share. Regrettably, the Forest Service has wholly disregarded our core suggestions. The Draft EA is rife with errors stemming from the same fundamental problems we have been pointing out to you for years. If this project is delayed because the agency has to take extra time to resolve these problems, it is not because we have not been exceedingly upfront about our concerns… read more