U.S. Forest Service Pushes Massive Logging Project on Daniel Boone National Forest in Spite of Public Feedback and Biden’s Executive Order to Preserve Mature and Old-Growth Forests

Note Ripped Edge Bottom Raw@4x

What you need to know:

Draft Environmental Assessment has been released.

Original Proposed Action has been followed up with Alternative #1

Alternative #1 is better, but we still have concerns.

What you need to know:

Draft Environmental Assessment has been released.

Original Proposed Action has been followed up with Alternative #1

Alternative #1 is better, but we still have concerns.

For Immediate Release 

The U.S. Forest Service has released its Draft Environmental Assessment for the Jellico Vegetation Management Project, which would log 10,000 acres of the Jellico mountains in southeastern Kentucky. 

The main proposal to log 10,000 acres over 40 years is unprecedented in scale and scope. Despite President Biden’s Executive Order to conserve mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, significant tracts of old-growth are proposed for logging. At least 5 species of endangered bats and three endangered aquatic animals live in the project area. The Forest Service says the logging is needed because the trees are too old and the area is “trending to mature forest” (Draft EA p.3). This justification disregards Biden’s executive order, climate science, and the carbon impacts of logging. 

The Draft EA also includes an alternative logging proposal, Alternative 1, which includes nearly 3,000 acres of logging over a 4-6 year period. Alternative 1 does not include outright clearcuts, but it does include 1,122  acres of “shelterwood” which is described by the Forest Service as “similar to a clearcut.” Several significant tracts of old growth have also been removed from Alternative 1. 

Both options would have serious impacts on the forest and surrounding community. These issues include logging mature and old-growth forests, logging on landslide-prone slopes, threats to endangered species, flooding downstream, and the expansion of invasive species like Tree of Heaven, which has already infested many parts of the project area that were previously logged. 

Kentucky Heartwood recently learned through Freedom of Information Act documents associated with a lawsuit from the Southern Environmental Law Center that the Forest Service has mandated timber targets that include a more than 400% increase in logging on the Daniel Boone National Forest. The documents clearly show that the Forest Service is prioritizing the timber harvest mandate over other forest needs, including recreation, forest health, water quality, and more. Meeting these timber targets is directly tied to performance reviews of Forest Service staff.

Kentucky Heartwood’s Executive Director, Lauren Kallmeyer, states, “this logging proposal flies in the face of the stated goals of the Biden administration and is a major setback for the climate. The Forest Service is supposed to operate under a multiple-use mandate, but they are clearly prioritizing logging over all else to the detriment of forest health, downstream communities, and a stable climate.” 

During the scoping phase of this project, members of the public sent over 300 comments, with the vast majority in opposition to the project. Kentucky Heartwood is currently analyzing the Draft EA proposal and will provide analysis and critique via its website at www.kyheartwood.org. The comment deadline is Friday, May 24, and significant public opposition is expected. 

Kentucky Heartwood Founder, Chris Schimmoeller ground-truthing Jellico some time back in the early 90s. And here we are again...

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