Wild places sustain and define us; we, in turn, must protect them.
On April 27, the Kentucky Resources Council sent a letter on behalf of Kentucky Heartwood to the Daniel Boone National Forest demanding an immediate halt to ongoing logging from the Greenwood Vegetation Management Project on the Stearns Ranger District in McCreary and Pulaski Counties. The letter comes after a series of surveys by Kentucky Heartwood found that the Forest Service has sold an estimated 13,163 more trees to loggers than what the Forest Service analyzed, and ultimately approved in their 2017 decision.
Kentucky Heartwood also found that the Forest Service is violating mandatory Forest Plan Standards by marking trees for harvest in designated riparian buffer zones meant to protect streams. Riparian buffer violations were observed in tributaries that flow directly into Beaver Creek and Beaver Creek Wilderness, which provides habitat for the federally-threatened blackside dace (Phoxinus cumberlandensis).
See our report documenting our findings at the bottom of this post.
The violations found in the Greenwood project come shortly after Kentucky Heartwood documented Forest Plan violations and multiple large and ongoing landslides caused by logging in the Group One project in the Redbird District of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay and Leslie Counties. The Forest Service has been working to increase the “pace and scale” of logging across the Daniel Boone National Forest, with around 8,000 acres of new logging projects approved (or nearing approval) over the past several months. It appears that the Forest Service, in their efforts to sell more timber from the national forest, and sell it more quickly, is failing to monitor their own operations and are ignoring rules meant to limit environmental impacts.
The Greenwood project was developed between 2013 and 2017 after a series of public meetings, field trips, and public comment periods with 171 comment letters submitted to the agency in response to the proposal. The Forest Service ultimately approved 2,143 acres of commercial logging after several revisions. Most of Kentucky Heartwood’s surveys in the Greenwood project area focused on the Woodland Establishment management prescription, which affects 674 acres.
The Woodland Establishment prescription was designed to manage for mid-density, fire-adapted upland forests which were historically important in the area. However, after surveying 256 acres across 6 harvest units allocated to this prescription (including one site already cut), we found that the Forest Service was consistently cutting to about half the density of forest cover that was prescribed in the project. Another 36-acre stand prescribed for a Shelterwood Preperatory Cut was also examined and found to be marked more heavily that the prescription allowed, but not as severely as the Woodland Establishment harvest units.
This hyperlapse video shows one of the harvest units surveyed by Kentucky Heartwood. Blue paint means that the tree has been marked for harvest.
Kentucky Heartwood will continue in earnest until the U.S. Forest Service and Daniel Boone National Forest correct this timber grab and provide a full explanation of how and why it has happened.
Please consider supporting our work to defend the Daniel Boone National Forest. We are the only organization in the Kentucky, or anywhere, monitoring logging and other resource management on the Daniel Boone. We are a small organization with just one full-time and two part-time staff, and a very small budget.
Thank you for helping us help the forest you love.