North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures
Help Protect the Vulnerable Wildlands of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Area Profiles

An area’s inclusion in the Forest Service’s roadless area inventory does not necessarily mean that the agency will manage it in such a way as to protect its wild, natural values or that all management activities will end. Some management plans and categories allow for roadless areas to remain undisturbed; others allow for resource utilization.

Much of that activity can alter a roadless area’s conditions such that some or all of it no longer meets roadless area criteria. This list of such activities is a long one:
• mining and prospecting with heavy earth-moving equipment;
• planting of non-native vegetation on more than 15 percent of the area;
• road building or rebuilding that results in more than a half mile of road per 1,000 acres;
• timber harvesting that results in trees less than 10 years old in more than 20 percent of the area;
• erecting buildings or other structures;
• building transmission lines, pipelines or utility corridors with cleared rights-of-way;
• creating major recreational areas such as campgrounds, visitor centers or resorts;
• changing recreational use from non-motorized to motorized;
• reclassifying old temporary roads and undrivable “wood” roads abandoned decades ago to system roads; and
• creating high-standard surfaced trails.

The sequence, then, begins to take shape. Roadless areas are the universe of the likeliest new wilderness areas–places that meet the threshold test for wilderness suitability. Their loss diminishes that universe and prospects for additional wilderness in the years ahead. Forest plans set the management direction for our national forests, including roadless area treatment, management and protection, for the next 15 years and beyond. How valuable roadless areas fare over that period depends directly on the forest plan. So does our North Carolina wilderness future.

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