Nearly 50 acres conserved along national forest boundary

out preservedA purchase of 48 acres adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest and the Highlands of Roan by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy saved the tract from development.

Hunters and their dogs don’t deserve special protections

op dogsBy Bill Lea • Guest Columnist

In the article about the bear dogs attacking a camper’s dogs (www.smokymountainnews.com/outdoors/item/14952), Wallace Messer (a bear hunter whose dogs were not involved in the attack) begins by suggesting the blame for the attack should perhaps be placed on the victims — a strategy used time after time by defense attorneys and their defendants pleading innocence. Even if Kadie Anderson’s dogs had growled as a natural reaction to protect their owner — which Kadie vehemently denies happened — that does not justify being attacked by a pack of a dozen dogs. A forest user and her pets’ well-being were still jeopardized. The bear hunting dog owners should be held accountable just like any other dog owner would be in the exact same situation. Why should any small group of dog owners be given special status with a law that protects only them when every other dog owner in the state would be held liable?

Dog fight in the forest: Woman crusades for legal change after hunting dog attack

out frKadie Anderson was packing up camp after a night in the backcountry with her two Australian shepherds when the peace of an autumn forest waking up from a nighttime rain was decisively broken. 

“A pack of hunting dogs came into the camp and attacked my dogs, almost killed my dogs, bit me a couple of times while I was trying to protect them,” recalled Anderson, an Ohio resident who at the time was camping in the Snowbird Wilderness Area in Nantahala National Forest.

This is no time to devalue our wild heritage

op frBy Bill McLarney • Guest Columnist

We humans are highly skilled and devilishly clever. We can create ball fields, schools, prisons, highways, airports, strip malls, industrial parks, reservoir lakes, landfills, farms of all kinds, Superfund sites, babies  and sustainably managed timber lands — the list goes on. One of the few imaginable things we can’t make is what has come to be called wilderness.  So just maybe we shouldn’t destroy a whole lot more of it.

Forests for the future: First glimmers of forest plan draw polarized reactions

fr forestryWhen Brent Martin emerged from the Forest Management Plan meeting in Franklin, the first glimpse into the direction that management in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests might take over the next few decades, he was upset. Shocked. Disbelieving, even.

Theft, vandalism spur Forest Service to build gate

The U.S. Forest Service is planning to install a gate on Wine Spring Road near Franklin after communications equipment housed less than a mile up the road at Wine Spring Gap was repeatedly stolen and vandalized. Damage has totaled $20,000 in losses, and one of the victims, Macon County Emergency Services, requested that the Forest Service do something about it. 

Fretting the PILT jilt: WNC counties could lose out if formula is altered

It’s about that time. Time to worry about PILT money.  

After seeing the federal payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) program receive a one-year extension early this year, local leaders are now looking out for more than the program’s continuance going forward.

Hashing out habitat: Crowd debates wildlife habitat in forest management plan meeting

out frMore than 100 people filled the room at Asheville’s Crowne Plaza Hotel earlier this month, but they weren’t there for the pretzels. This 16th meeting in the forest management plan revision process for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests drew people from across Western North Carolina representing a spectrum of interests. Those interests all converged on one topic — wildlife. 

“The overall theme that I feel like from the wildlife habitat perspective is to manage this forest for diversity,” Sheryl Bryan, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, told the crowd. 

More than 300 of the 1,000-plus comments the Forest Service has received so far about its management plan pertained to wildlife, and of those, Bryan said, “we did by far receive the most comments concerning the amount of early successional habitat and the mix of age classes associated with that. So the elephant’s out there and we’re going to talk about that.”

Forest users negotiate need for wilderness in new management plan

out frWestern North Carolina is covered with more than 1,500 square miles of national forest, and residents often measure their assets in terms of towering hardwoods, flocks of turkeys and mountain streams.

National forest land belongs to everybody, but “everybody” includes a pretty diverse group of hikers, bird watchers, hunters, mountain bikers, horseback riders, fishermen, paddlers, environmentalists, loggers and so on — all with different ideas and priorities. As the U.S. Forest Service works toward a new guiding management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, it’s a challenge to find a strategy that “everybody” can agree on. 

A waiting game: WNC counties hope for continued PILT funding

fr PILTFrom Clingmans Dome to Juneywank Falls to the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, Swain County is rich in natural beauty. But all that public land can make the budget tight for county government, which depends on property tax for much of its revenue.  

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