Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Director
- On November 7, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted comments on the draft environmental assessment for the Archer Knob Project on the George Washington National Forest.
- The Archer Knob Project would improve habitat for game and nongame species and restore forest health through a variety of silvicultural treatments.
- CSF strongly supports the use of active forest management practices on multiple-use public lands to improve wildlife habitat, forest health, and access for sportsmen and women.
Why It Matters: Despite the importance of young forests to a variety of wildlife species, young forests and other early successional habitats comprise less than 1% of the George Washington National Forest. Implementation of the Archer Knob Project is critical to reversing the habitat loss and declines in wildlife, including species pursued by Virginia’s hunters like ruffed grouse.
CSF expressed support for the proposed regeneration harvests, thinnings, prescribed burns, and timber stand improvement treatments as well as the proposed work to rehabilitate and expand wildlife openings. These activities would significantly increase the acreage of young forests, open woodlands, and grassland/forb habitat to support ruffed grouse, while-tailed deer, and wild turkey, among other species.
CSF’s letter stated, “To single out a bellwether species for habitat, the ruffed grouse population on the GWNF has been declining for decades primarily because of the loss of regenerating young forests caused by the significantly reduced timber harvesting levels. With more than 75% of the Project area comprised of stands over 80 years old that do not support a vibrant understory beneficial to wildlife, we encourage you to move forward with the Project to correct the age class distribution imbalance and improve habitat diversity to support Virginia’s wildlife species that rely on regenerating young forests and other early seral habitats.”
Additionally, CSF supported the proposed improvements to the Hite Hollow Rifle Range and the aquatic organism passages restoration work. CSF opposed the proposed decommissioning of almost 5 miles of Forest Service Roads as roads are important for sportsmen’s access and maintaining management capabilities.
CSF is excited about the prospect of the U.S. Forest Service implementing the Archer Knob Project. We will be tracking the status of the project closely to continue our work supporting Virginia’s outdoor sporting traditions.
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