Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
Due to COVID-19, the public comment period for the forest plan revision for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will be extended. The U.S. Forest Service canceled six public meetings due to the pandemic. Originally scheduled to end on May 14, additional details about the extended comment period will be available on May 8.
The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests (roughly 1.05 million acres) comprise over half of the public hunting land in North Carolina. Populations of many wildlife species, including ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer, have declined on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests due to a lack of active forest management. Initiated in 2012, local and national sportsmen’s groups have advocated for increased levels of timber management, prescribed fire and other habitat improvements throughout the plan revision process.
Citing the rich hunting heritage, significant economic impact and critical conservation funding contributions of sportsmen, the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) has twice submitted comments on the plan forest plan revision in support of active management.
In a letter that the Caucus submitted, the Caucus recommended, “… a significant increase in the annual acreage harvested to create more regenerating forests for disturbance-dependent wildlife and other species that benefit from a diverse forest. The lack of quality wildlife habitat on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests is the major limiting factor for healthy wildlife populations, and the Caucus supports improving wildlife habitat through the use of [active forest management treatments].”
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to monitor the forest plan revision moving forward and looks forward to submitting comments supporting draft plan components that facilitate habitat management for wildlife.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?