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USFS Seeks Input on Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Potential Wilderness Inventory

This Commentary Period Closed on December 15, 2015. Stay Tuned to for Additional Updates 


As part of their forest plan revision process, the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are seeking public input to their current inventory of lands that may be suitable for Wilderness. The current comment period for Wild and Scenic Rivers and Potential Wilderness Areas extends through December 15th.

This is the “first cut” from the Forest Service, and determined by set criteria set by the National Forest Planning Rule. At this time the Forest Service is seeking responses to evaluation questions, not preference of management for an area or general opinions on wilderness vs. non-wilderness.

Submitted comments should closely follow the Forest Service’s evaluation form. The evaluation form is long and it would be cumbersome to fill out one for each area. The Forest Service has indicated they will also consider comments that are submitted independent of the evaluation forms, but these comments must refer to specific evaluation criteria, and not be general in nature.

Please note that the potential wilderness inventory has increased since the last fall due to changes in the Forest Management Plan directives. Please check the additions. Areas added to the inventory can be found in the following PDF document: Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Process Paper.

How To Make Comments

There are two ways you can submit comments at this time. We strongly urge you tosubmit comments BEFORE DECEMBER 15, 2015 for consideration.

  1. The following link will take you to all information you need to fill out evaluation forms in their entirety for any or all of the potential wilderness areas: Inventory and Evaluation Process of Lands that may be Suitable for Wilderness. This resource has an introduction, web map (“Inventory” tab), and instructions for sharing your thoughts on the areas in the inventory.
  2. If you do not want to use the above resource to comment on each individual area you can send general comments to the forest service at: NCplanrevision [at] fs [dot] fed [dot] us or on this page by submitting your comments using the form below. IMPORTANT: Your comments should follow the format that the Forest Service has requested on their form. Relevant sections of this form are outlined below for your information. To more easily make comment, copy the areas in bold into your e-mail and add the proposed wilderness areas which apply. A form to submit comments is at end of this post.

Outline of Forest Service Feedback Form

Criterion 1- Apparent Naturalness: The degree to which an area generally appears to be affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprints of man’s work substantially unnoticeable

1c) Describe the presence and extent of improvements in the area, including the type of improvement, approximate size of affected area, and whether structures may be considered historic (>50 years old).

  • Are there recreation improvements within the area that are substantially noticeable modifications to the landscape; such as highly developed trails, day-use or overnight developed recreation sites, recreation structures, access roads, etc.?

In response to Criteria 1c: The following proposed areas have a highly developed trail system which receives use by a wide variety of recreational groups:

Criterion 2- Outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation: the degree to which the area has outstanding opportunities for solitude or for a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.

2a) Describe the opportunities for, or impacts to, solitude within the area.

  • Are there developments or recurring activities immediately adjacent to the area that impact opportunities for solitude? Describe the type of development and proximity to area. Consider recreation developments and high use areas, private lands and associated infrastructure, roads/highways, airport flight paths, etc.  

In response to Criteria 2a:The following areas have high recreational use and are close to populated areas which generate the high use of these areas of the forest:

2b) Describe the opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation

  • Are there opportunities to engage in primitive and unconfined recreation activities that connect visitors to nature; such as hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, floating, kayaking, camping, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, observing wildlife, or enjoying nature?  Describe type of activity and extent of availability throughout area.
  • If other recreation activities occur within the area which would not be considered primitive and unconfined, describe those uses; such as mountain bike trails, concentrated use/large group gatherings, wagon trains, motorized-use trails, etc.

In response to criteria 2b: The following areas contain mountain bike trails:

Criterion 5- Management: the degree to which the area may be managed to preserve its wilderness characteristics, considering shape, configuration, legally established rights or uses, presence and amount of non-federal land, and management of adjacent lands.

5c) Describe any State or Federal laws that may affect availability of the area for wilderness, or the ability to manage the area to preserve wilderness characteristics?

In response to criteria 5c: Due to the amount of use that the trails in these areas receive it is most efficient to use mechanized equipment to keep them sustainable:

Send an E-mail

Note: Although the suggested email copy below does NOT include all of the inventoried areas, it does include some of the known mountain biking trail complexes. Be sure to review the map and make comments on the the areas that are important to you.