Wild places sustain and define us; we, in turn, must protect them.
The Daniel Boone National Forest has proposed to amend the forest's 2004 management plan with respect to the federally endangered Indiana bat. The Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) was first listed as an endangered species in 1967, and has been in decline ever since. Since 2006, the spread of the disease White Nose Syndrome (WNS) has caused remaining populations of Indiana bats (as well as other species of bats) to crash.
Some of the Forest Service's proposed changes simply align terms and criteria with those currently in use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. However, the Forest Service is also proposing to loosen several protective standards that limit timber harvest near maternity colonies of both Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis). Northern long-eared bats are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act on account of catastrophic declines from WNS.
One of the reasons provided by the Forest Service of the need for change is that logging restrictions near maternity colonies during the summer roosting season mean that more logging has to take place during the wetter winter months. But over last decade, several aquatic species have been listed as threatened or endangered, meaning that sedimentation of streams from logging has to be taken more seriously. For example, the Forest Service just proposed around 3,000 acres of intensive logging on steep slopes in the Redbird District in designated Critical Habitat for the Kentucky Arrow Darter, which was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2015. The Redbird District includes most of the remaining habitat for this species. We'll post more about the South Redbird Project in the near future.
The bottom line is that the only changes the Forest Service should be making with respect to Indiana and northern long-eared bats are those that are demonstrably protective and support their populations. These important, imperiled species cannot afford the loss of a single maternity colony - especially to facilitate logging on our public lands.
For now, the Forest Service is accepting comments on their proposal until Monday, March 26th. The agency will likely prepare an Environmental Assessment sometime in the near future.
Links to project documents can be found on our website here, and the Daniel Boone National Forest website here.
Here is a link to the page on the Daniel Boone National Forest website where the public can comment on this proposal. Comments are due by 3/26/2018.
Comments can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or sent by postal mail to:
Dan Olsen, Forest Supervisor
Daniel Boone National Forest
1700 Bypass Road
Winchester, Kentucky 40391
Please state "Plan Amendment" in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the envelope when replying by mail.
Here is where you can read comments that have been submitted by the public.
For Immediate Release
Kentucky Heartwood Appeals Forest Plan Decision to Sixth Circuit
Claims faulty analysis ignored public sentiment, over-emphasizes commercial logging on Daniel Boone National Forest
(Lexington), KY - Kentucky Heartwood recently filed a Notice of Appeal to the 6th Circuit challenging the April 27, 2009 decision of federal judge Karl Forester. Forester ruled against Kentucky Heartwood and Heartwood in a lawsuit charging that the U.S. Forest Service had violated the law in implementing its revised forest management plan and the Morehead Ice Storm Recovery Project.
The forest advocacy organizations initially brought the suit to federal court on the grounds that public input was ignored; effects of herbicides were not analyzed; and the endangered Indiana Bat was not adequately protected. The appeal to Circuit Court charges that District Judge Forester failed to address the issues raised in the original complaint.
In its 2003 revision of the Forest Plan, the Forest Service contemplated several management scenarios for the 700,000-acre Daniel Boone National Forest in Southeastern Kentucky. Unprecedented public input during the planning process resulted in 1,109 letters and 2,658 petition signatures submitted for the Forest Service to consider on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) alone. Ninety-four percent of the individuals who submitted comments on the DEIS urged the federal agency to stop commercial logging on Kentucky's only national forest. The Forest Service considered 6 alternatives in detail; none of them represented a no-logging option.
During the course of the nine-year forest plan revision process, two citizens’ alternatives for managing the forest without commercial logging were submitted to the agency, which ignored them both. Despite the fact that places like Big South Fork and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are successfully managed without the use of commercial logging, the Forest Service attempted to characterize a no-logging option as non-management of the forest and deemed it unworkable without any analysis. Judge Forester accepted their argument without addressing the National Forest Management Act regulations that require the range of alternatives to respond to significant public concerns.
"The Daniel Boone National Forest and the people of Kentucky deserve a management plan rooted in a healthy, functioning forest ecosystem – not a patchwork of logging roads and subsidized commercial harvests. But the Forest Service says this is unworkable, without even taking a serious look at how to do it,” stated Kentucky Heartwood Director, Jim Scheff.
The 2003 Plan approves the use of herbicides across the forest. Kentucky Heartwood and Heartwood pointed out that the plan analysis failed to address the forest-wide impacts of herbicide use. The Forest Service claimed that analysis need only take place when a particular project is approved. The judge agreed with the agency without addressing the fact that at the project level the Forest Service continues to fail to consider the cumulative impacts of forest-wide herbicide use.
Chris Schimmoeller, boardmember of Kentucky Heartwood, stated, "At a time when the devastating effects of long-term, cumulative herbicide exposure are becoming well known, we are extremely disappointed that Judge Forester was fooled by the Forest Service’s shell game."
For more information:
Jim Scheff, Kentucky Heartwood Director
Heartwood Forest Watch Director
Kentucky Heartwood Council Member
(502) 226-5751, ext. 3