It was clearly a case of two roads diverging in a yellow wood as the U.S. Forest Service recently hosted an early November meeting at the Stearns District Ranger Station followed by a field trip within the Daniel Boone National Forest for individuals and organizations interested in learning more about the status of the proposed Greenwood Vegetation Management Project. Both proponents and opponents of the proposal were on hand to ask questions, gather information, and give their opinions concerning the project.
The Greenwood Vegetation Management Project was initially proposed in July 2014 via a U. S. Forest Service scoping document calling for the engagement of a variety of vegetation management techniques to meet objectives of the Forest Service’s Land and Resource Management Plan for the Daniel Boone National Forest. With approximately two thirds of the project designated in McCreary County, the scoping proposal centered around the establishment of woodland type communities, restoration of shortleaf pine communities, implementation of commercial and non-commercial thinning, and maintenance of wildlife openings. The original scoping proposal called for more commercial logging than has occurred in the last ten years in the Stearns Ranger District of the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) with commercial logging proposed in specific areas throughout 3,515 acres in northern McCreary and southern Pulaski Counties. Although the original Greenwood scoping proposal entertained more commercial logging than has been customary in the Stearns Ranger District during recent years, the logging was projected to take place over a larger territory and over a longer period of time.
Before visiting selected sites of the Greenwood Project, U. S. Forest Service personnel met with the interested individuals and groups in attendance, including representatives of Kentucky Heartwood, bluegrasswoodland.com, the Kentucky Nature Conservancy, and KY Department of Fish and Wildlife, to announce and unveil an alternative proposal for the Greenwood Project with several modifications from the original scoping proposal. The alternative proposal with modifications was developed based on internal scoping, external scoping, resource issues, and public input. It addresses some of the issues identified during the processes.
In comparison to the original scoping proposal, the modified proposal reduces commercial timber harvest by 899 acres (26%), increases non-commercial timber stand improvement practices by 956 acres, decreases prescribed burning acreage by 30%, decreases amount of machine constructed fireline by approximately 26.5 miles, decreases temporary road construction slightly, and proposes the establishment of 22 more acres of wooded grassland habitat for wildlife.
At the recent meeting and site visits, Jim Scheff and several other individuals represented Kentucky Heartwood-a non-profit organization/community of people dedicated to advocating for Kentucky’s native forests.
Scheff, who is the director of Kentucky Heartwood, commented on the site visits and the freshly revealed modified plan.
“We appreciate that the Forest Service agreed (in the modified plan) to not log the trailhead at Forks of Beaver, but there are still plans for massive amounts of unnecessary logging,” Scheff opined. “In terms of the habitat goals of Forest Service, we can reach those without selling public timber. If people are concerned about this, I hope they will reach out to Forest Service and to their Judge Executives.”
Mike Strunk, Regional Coordinator for the Southeastern Region of KY Department of Fish and Wildlife, expressed support for the U. S. Forest Service’s proposed management actions within the Greenwood area.
“As managers with KY Department of Fish and Wildlife, our main concerns are to balance the needs of wildlife species, while also making sure we have no negative effects on the ecosystem,” Strunk remarked. “This project does just that. The proposed actions align with many of the goals and practices we currently implement on the Beaver Creek Wildlife Management Area.”
Strunk indicated that many of the habitat management practices outlined in the Greenwood Vegetation Management proposal will be beneficial to species such as the Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, and Whitetailed Deer.
“A whole host of non-game species will benefit as well,” Strunk added.
During the next several months, work will continue on developing alternatives to achieve the objectives of the Greenwood Vegetation Management Project.
“We are finalizing the alternatives and are beginning to do analysis on them,” stated Stearns District Ranger Reed. “After analysis is completed, we will release the assessment to the public for comment. We plan for that to occur sometime during the summer of 2016.”