The Forest Service identified individuals who will be considered eligible objectors to the revised forest plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, Friday.
This comes as a 60-day objection period closed March 22, following the release of the revised forest plan and final Environmental Impact Statement in January.
The public had an opportunity to file an objection if they had concerns with some aspect of the revised plan and had engaged with the Forest Service during the process. The regional team has gone through all submissions and determined which are eligible.
The Forest Service reviewed all objections that were received. Of the nearly 14,000 received, more than 1,000 were submitted anonymously or submitted multiple times by the same individual.
Additionally, several thousand form letter objections were submitted by individuals who had not previously commented and were therefore not considered eligible.
Most of the issues identified by non-eligible objectors are the same, or similar to, issues identified by eligible objectors, said Regional Forester for the Southern Region, Ken Arney.
“We greatly appreciate the time and energy you have taken to engage in this process,” added Arney.
The intent of the public engagement process the Forest Service has conducted in North Carolina over the past nine years was to listen to diverse public interests and incorporate them in the planning process as much as possible, said Arney.
The purpose of public engagement is so that issues and concerns can be addressed prior to the objection process.
Those who are ineligible to formally object can still attend objection resolution meetings that are open to the public.
All eligible objections can be viewed on the forest’s website HERE.
Pictured at the top of the article is an aerial view above Highlands overlooking the Nantahala National Forest at sunrise.
Article courtesy of USDA Forest Service, Southern Region Office of Communication
Photos by Brian O’Shea, Plateau Daily News