Public Comment Period Open for Two U.S. Forest Service Habitat Projects in Virginia

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Director

  • On October 7, the U.S. Forest Service released the draft environmental assessment for the Archer Knob Project and announced the Currin Glade Vegetation Project on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia.
  • Both projects are supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) for their conservation benefits for game and non-game species alike.
  • The projects would help both National Forests move closer to the desired conditions set forth in the 2014 Revised Forest Plan for the George Washington National Forest and the 2004 Revised Land and Resource Management Plan for the Jefferson National Forest, respectively, by creating more early successional habitat.

Why It Matters: Early successional habitats are lacking on George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, and the scarcity of these critical habitats for wildlife negatively impacts hunting traditions as game populations have declined because of reduced active forest management treatments. Supporting these projects is important for creating habitat that supports game and nongame wildlife and improves forest health.

Located on the North River Ranger District in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties, the Archer Knob Project would increase forest resilience and restore proper ecological function by creating and enhancing early successional habitat and open woodlands throughout the 25,860 acres of National Forest System land in the project area. More than 75% of the area is comprised of closed canopy stands over 80 years of age that inhibit understory growth, which is needed to provide important forage and cover for wildlife. Specifically, the project proposes to use regeneration harvests to create young forests on 2,142 acres and commercial thinning to open the canopy on 2,883 acres, in addition to creating 44 acres of early successional habitat by expanding existing wildlife openings. Prescribed fire will also be used to improve habitat by returning nutrients to the soil, increasing vegetation, and reducing the threat of wildfire.

Located on the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Smyth County, the Currin Glade Vegetation Project would utilize regeneration harvests, commercial thinning, uneven-aged harvests, and prescribed fire to increase the amount of early successional habitat on the landscape, improve forest stand structural diversity, support oak regeneration, and address nonnative invasive species.

The deadline to submit comments on both projects is November 7, 2022. Comments can be submitted online through the project websites linked above.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) supports both projects and appreciates the U.S. Forest Service’s recognition of the need to establish and maintain more early successional habitats to support wildlife. Similarly, CSF recently commented in support of a wildlife habitat improvement project on the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont and looks forward to commenting on these projects as well.

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