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Activists Gather to Address National Forest Protection

Activists Gather to Address National Forest Protection

In early June, national forest protection activists from across the country gathered in the Red River Gorge region of the Daniel Boone NF for the Eastern National Forest Protection Summit sponsored by Kentucky Heartwood to discuss citizen involvement in US Forest Service management decisions and addressing threats to the nations National Forest system. Attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center initiated the educational sessions of the Summit with an introduction to the 2012 Forest Planning Regulations and Objection Rules. Under these laws individuals and entities may file objections after an environmental analysis document is completed and before a decision document is signed regarding national forest management plans and individual project proposals.

Issues of greatest concern examined at the Summit included commercial logging and fossil fuel extraction leases on public lands, the effects of fire suppression and utilization as a forest management tool, climate change implications and opportunities for forest resource protection, and new Farm Bill provisions that may unnecessarily increase herbicide and pesticide treatments on National Forests. A very informative presentation was provided on the implementation and current status of the Endangered Species Act and opportunities for public involvement in species listings. The most inspiring session of the Summit concerned the concept and necessity of wilderness and the history of efforts to establish and expand the US National Wilderness Preservation System.

The Summit concluded with planning for increased collaboration and annual meetings through a national forest network. Anyone interested in attending or presenting at future National Forest protection events should contact Kentucky Heartwood.