By Eugenia Jones
Although winter’s cold temperatures will continue to envelope the Daniel Boone National Forest for several more weeks, officials are looking forward to springtime when implementation of the Greenwood Vegetation Management Project can begin in earnest. Final authorization for the project was granted in the fall after a hearing was held in response to a formal administrative (pre-decisional) objection filed by Kentucky Heartwood, The Center for Biological Diversity, and two private citizens. The objection challenged approval of the proposal citing several matters including concerns regarding rare, threatened, and declining species, wildlife openings (including the use of herbicides) and forest/timber management (including the use of commercial logging.)
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 3,515 acre project designated in northern McCreary County, the project centers around the establishment of woodland type communities, restoration of shortleaf pine communities, implementation of commercial and non-commercial thinning, and maintenance of wildlife openings. Common themes brought forth during the public comment periods included concerns about the use of herbicides, lack of old growth, use of commercial timber sales, size of the project, and construction of roads.
The final authorization of the project calls for implementation of Alternative 2 which includes seventeen actions. Actions include forest thinning, woodland establishment, two-age management of hardwoods, conversion of white pine to shortleaf pine (estimated 80 acres), shortleaf pine restoration (estimated 663 acres), herbicide use with wildlife opening maintenance (maximum of 530 acres), wildlife opening stand improvement (estimated 286 acres), establishment of 38 upland water sources, and prescribed fire (estimated 10,627 acres).
While the project designates more commercial logging than has occurred in the last ten years in the Stearns Ranger District of the Daniel Boone Nation Forest (DBNF), the Forest Service emphasizes the project’s commercial logging is spread throughout a larger territory and over a longer period of time.
According to Stearns District Ranger Timothy Reed, the Greenwood Project was designed to meet the goals and objectives of the Forest Plan.
“The Forest Plan serves as a road map leading to the type of forest desired in the future,” Reed explained. “We are pleased to have completed the analysis process and issued a decision on this project. It has received much collaboration and input from the general public, environmental organizations, and state agencies. Now, the project will be able to help us and our partners restore the forest and provide for a diversity of wildlife habitat conditions.”
Additional information can be found at the forest website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/dbnf/landmanagement/projects