Wild places sustain and define us; we, in turn, must protect them.
On Monday, October 5th, Kentucky Heartwood and the Kentucky Resources Council jointly filed an administrative objection (“predecisional objection”) to the South Red Bird Wildlife Enhancement Project on the Daniel Boone National Forest. The project would approve 3,600 acres of logging in the Redbird District of the Daniel Boone in Clay and Leslie Counties. The project also approves the construction of nearly 100 miles of full-bench skid roads across extremely steep and highly erodible mountain slopes for hauling out the timber. Extensive field work by Kentucky Heartwood has demonstrated massive and ongoing landslides resulting from the same types of management in the adjacent Group One project. The Forest Service’s South Red Bird project could degrade or destroy up to 16% of designated critical habitat for the federally-threatened Kentucky arrow darter (Etheostoma spilotum), and degrade habitat for the federally-endangered snuffbox mussel (Epioblasma triquetra).
The South Red Bird project could also have major impacts to federally-threatened northern long-eared bats (Myotis septenrionalis) through large-scale habitat fragmentation (some logging units are 200 acres to nearly 400 acres in size) and logging the closed-canopy flight corridors they use to travel in the forest.
Throughout the Forest Service’s analysis, misleading and arbitrary characterizations of the landscape and potential adverse environmental effects – especially to aquatic and interior forest species – were used to excuse the aggressive and inexcusably destructive logging practices in the project. Despite the Forest Service’s lip-service to “collaboration,” the only public that they listened to were organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which has lobbied the Forest Service to clear more of our native forests to make it easier to hunt introduced Rocky Mountain elk.
Kentucky Heartwood’s advocacy helped to identify and protect the 40 acres of old-growth on Little Flat Creek that the Forest Service had planned to log. However, this isn’t nearly enough. The Forest Service still has an opportunity to drop or make major, substantive changes to the South Red Bird project. But if they aren’t willing to do what’s right, and to fulfill their legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other laws and regulations, then we’ll be ready to take them to court.
The critical work that allowed us to develop such a strong, substantive objection, and to demonstrate that the Forest Service was misleading the public (and themselves), included nearly 300 hours in the field. That’s in addition to the hundreds of hours spent on research, analysis, and the drafting of comments and other materials needed to respond to the South Red Bird proposal.
We can’t do this level of work without support. To our members and volunteers who have helped us in this effort: Thank you. You have made a difference. But this isn’t over. We will need your continued support to take this project to court if the Forest Service remains unwavering in their willingness to bury our mountain streams in mud and rock, and destroy that habitat of at-risk species, to sell timber from our public lands.
You can join or donate to Kentucky Heartwood here.
Click the file below to download and read our administrative objection.
Join the virtual public meeting about the Jellico area
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Read on for details and instructions on how to join the meeting.
The Forest Service has officially announced the beginning of a management planning process for the Jellico mountains in the southernmost part of the Daniel Boone National Forest on the Stearns Ranger District. We know from past experience that these Integrated Resource Management Strategy (IRMS) processes almost always turn in to massive logging projects, like South Redbird, Blackwater, and Pine Creek. And early indications are that this will be no different.
But early public participation usually leads to better outcomes for the ecosystem! Your participation does matter!
The Jellicos are a part of the Cumberland Mountains on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Topping out at about 2200 feet, and with over 1200 feet in relief, the Jellicos are more mountainous than the rest of Daniel Boone National Forest. The area provides critical habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including the Cumberland darter (Etheostoma susanae) and Blackside dace (Chrosomus cumberlandensis). The Jellico analysis area includes nearly 1,300 acres of forest that could qualify as secondary old-growth (over 130 years old), but much of this older forest isn’t protected in the area’s “Designated Old Growth” area.
Resource extraction has already had a heavy toll on the forest. Nearly 2,700 acres were logged in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2011 the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service leased over 3,800 acres for oil and gas development. And legacy impacts from coal mining, along with significant problems with invasive plant species, add to the challenges of protecting and restoring this unique area.
Now is your chance to be a voice for the Jellicos! The Forest Service is hosting a virtual public meeting about the Jellico area on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, from 5:00-6:30 pm EST via Microsoft Teams. Click here to join the meeting.
Click here for a pdf with instructions from the Forest Service on how to connect to the meeting using a mobile device or computer.
The Forest Service has set up a public Facebook group called Jellico IRMS Assessment, where they have posted information about the IRMS process, and more details about Tuesday's meeting. Click here to join the Forest Service Jellico IRMS Facebook group.
To help spread the word Kentucky Heartwood has created a Facebook event, here, where we will also be posting updates and relevant information as we get closer to the meeting date.
Kentucky Heartwood remains committed to providing a thorough analysis of proposed agency actions using the best available science and the law. Protecting and restoring biological integrity to the Daniel Boone National Forest guides our efforts. As the Jellico IRMS process develops we will be providing analysis, information, and volunteer opportunities to help get to know, and protect, this unique part of the forest. To make sure that you can stay up to date be sure to sign up for our emails here.
If you value this work, please consider donating to Kentucky Heartwood. We're a small group, and every bit helps. You can donate on our website here.
Thank You. We couldn't do it without you!
Kentucky Heartwood is excited to announce that we have hired Ashley Lipscomb to serve as our new Director! We are thrilled to have her on staff, and look forward to everyone meeting her.
As Ashley steps into her new role, we have also promoted two other staff members to new roles. Jim Scheff, our Director since 2008 has stepped into his new role as Staff Ecologist (a lifelong dream of his!), and Tress La'Ree has been promoted from Administrative Associate to Administrator, reflecting her high level of service and leadership within the organization. See everyone's updated info on our Staff page here.
Here's a little more about Ashley:
Ashley joined Kentucky Heartwood as the Director in October 2020. She brings eleven years of forest watch experience learned in the wilds of the Northern Rockies. She started as a volunteer and became the Membership and Development Director for a small, grassroots group called Friends of the Clearwater. In her spare time, she co-led the Palouse Broadband of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Ashley gleaned many skills and strategies from some of the best forest activists in Idaho and looks forward to protecting biologically significant public lands in Kentucky through citizen engagement.
Ashley received her Associate of Science in Ecotourism and Adventure Travel from Hocking Technical College in 2009 and proceeded to earn a Bachelor of Science in Resource Recreation and Tourism from the University of Idaho in 2010. Post education, she monitored public lands across Idaho’s Clearwater Basin for ORV abuse, impacts of deforestation, and wildlife movements. Along the way, she made time to identify native flowers and swim in the cool, clear waters of the West.
At Kentucky Heartwood, Ashley is responsible for analyzing land management proposals using sound science and the law, creating communication lines with our supporters, growing a diverse membership base, grant acquisitions, and foundation relations. In her downtime, Ashley enjoys backpacking, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, and walking her doggy named Akadia.