Writer speaks out for the Cherokee National Forest

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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To the Editor:

Because my husband and I live surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest, we have treasured it for 48 years. As supporters of Cherokee Forest Voices, an organization that is focused on care of this beloved forest, we appreciate their evaluation of mountain bike trails proposed on Hall Top and their suggestions that will protect the primitive backcountry 4,283 acres in the Devil’s Backbone Roadless area. We know that this area is an important link for wildlife movement and must be preserved. We also value the restoration of oak and oak-pine forests in our area as well as decommissioning of illegal ORV (off road vehicle) trails. The Cherokee Forest Voices also promotes forest wide road maintenance projects such as replacement or clearing of culverts that are blocked and are a barrier to fish movement.  Additionally, it is also a goal of this significant group to challenge harmful Forest Service projects that are proposed in high priority (roadless, watersheds that are critical for aquatic habitat and drinking water, old-growth forests and Tennessee Mountain Treasures) areas. This organization is always looking for old growth forests and possibilities of ecological restoration. 

Recently the Forest Service (FS) proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that would limit or eliminate public participation and science-based analysis for nearly every decision affecting national forests. The effects of these radical changes in policy are being monitored by Cherokee Forest Voices and have the potential of diminishing the health and beauty of our natural surroundings that are attracting visitors who are needed for our economical well-being. Mature forests on federal lands are threatened by proposed logging.  The FS says mature forests are a threat for fire, but here older forests are more fire resistant because we have more rainfall and moist ground than in the West. Controlled burning is also a preventative against forest fires. Please let our state and federal legislators know that we value our Cherokee National Forests and need their support for any bills that help preserve these natural resources for the sake of our own enjoyment and for economical benefit as well as for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

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Norma Morrison, Ed.D

Carter County