Dear Friend of Georgia ForestWatch,
I’m writing to urge you to join Georgia ForestWatch’s major new advocacy initiative, ForestRoots. You already know that the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (CONF) is loved by millions of people as a place to hike, hunt, fish, mountain bike, kayak, and more. Our forest provides habitat to an incredible variety of plants and animals, resilience to climate change, and drinking water Georgians rely on.
So it is critical that you speak for the forest, because threats to it are mounting. When you speak for it, you want your voice to be heard. You want people to hear you when you talk about preserving healthy forests and clean streams for future generations. You want people to understand when you ask for protection for the places that are special to you. By providing advocacy training to a core of passionate volunteers, the ForestRoots Coalition will help ensure that your voice rings out.
For more than 30 years, ForestWatch staff and volunteers have spoken for the CONF by putting boots-on-the-ground and encouraging ecologically sound and science-based management by the Forest Service. We’ve protected ancient forests, stopped dramatically eroding sites from continuing to degrade water quality, and fixed misguided timber projects. We will continue to watch the CONF. However, the rules around speaking for the forest are changing–for the worse–so how we speak for the forest must change to meet this new challenge.
Restricting the voice of the people
Significant new threats to our CONF are on the horizon. Federal executive agencies are moving to eliminate opportunities to express your opinion about its plans for your public lands. We anticipate that in the next several weeks the Forest Service will announce plans to do away with formal public notification of some Forest Service projects, and to limit the public’s input in how they are managed. They will release their proposed changes to the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires the federal government to describe their projects to the public, analyze potential environmental impacts, and consider public comments. The Council on Environmental Quality also regulates NEPA implementation, and is also revising its guidelines. We don’t know as much about those potential changes, but we are watching them carefully.
The ForestRoots Coalition–answering new challenges
We do know these changes will make it harder to improve Forest Service projects. To push back against these changes and to protect the CONF in this new landscape, we need you to help us speak for the forest in new ways–to show up at meetings, call the Forest Service, speak to the media, tell your friends and neighbors about what’s going on, organize your community–in short, to make your voice heard. ForestWatch is looking to identify, prepare and mobilize a core of volunteers who will become informed on forest issues, learn the tools of activism, speak up for the right to participate in public lands management, and provide rapid response on important issues. We in turn will provide you the tools–information, technology, skills–and training to engage. The key word is: action.
The forest needs protecting now
In December the Forest Service was ordered to drastically increase the amount of industrial logging on national forest lands. We’re already seeing this start to play out in Georgia. The Forest Service’s Foothills Landscape Project affects nearly a fifth of the entire Chattahoochee National Forest. Instead of presenting its project proposal to the public and seeking feedback, the Forest Service plans to keep quiet about where they will be cutting trees and spraying herbicide until after comment periods required by law are over. Your favorite trout stream, hiking or biking trail, or secret camping spot could be at risk without you even knowing it.
Join with others to protect the forest
Together, we can meet these new challenges and protect our Forest. Please see below to get more information and sign up. The forest does a lot for us. It’s time to take action and do something for the forest.