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.