Thursday, February 11, 2016

N.C. County resolution opposes potential wilderness area

Mitchell County’s Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Feb. 1 voicing its opposition to the potential for land in the county to be designated, and protected, as a wilderness area. The U.S. Forest Service is in the middle of a years-long process to revise its land management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Much of Mitchell County is within the 500,000-acre Pisgah National Forest, which covers large swaths of western North Carolina. Part of the revision process involves inventorying land within forest boundaries to be evaluated to see if it meets criteria to be designated as wilderness - the highest level of protection that can be given to land managed by the federal government. Basically, the designation means the land is left in its natural condition with restrictions to human traffic. Dozens of areas within the two forests were inventoried for evaluation. Read more: Mitchell News-Journal - County resolution opposes potential wilderness area. In its resolution, the Board of Commissioners gave two reasons for its opposition: concerns that a wilderness designation will negatively impact future search and rescue efforts by limiting necessary maintenance of roadways and trails. And that a designation could result in the county missing out on funds from the Secure Rural Schools Program. Currently, Mitchell gets around $33,000 a year from the program, which provides funds to counties that contain land managed by the Forest Service. The funds, used for schools and roads, are a percentage of the receipts from timbering done on managed lands in the county. Timbering and mining are not allowed on land designated as wilderness. Nor are motorized or mechanized vehicles. Read more: Mitchell News-Journal - County resolution opposes potential wilderness area...more


No comments: