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Chattahoochee forest fans fighting Forest Service


At least 12,000 people disagree with the U.S. Forest Service's plan to open up half of the 749,000-acre Chattahoochee National Forest to clear-cutting and all-terrain vehicles, which the service proposed when it released its updated forestry management plan April 4.

Forest Service officials stand by the plan and argue that clear-cutting is necessary to give animals that prefer open spaces a place to live.

That logic, though, prompted one of the biggest outcries against forest policy in Georgia history.

About 8,800 of the 12,800 comments were form letters and comment cards provided by eco groups such as the Sierra Club. But the rest were handwritten letters.

One of the more ambitious responses came from Brent Martin, executive director of Georgia Forest Watch. He sent the Forest Service 30 pages of a survey he commissioned that documents the location and age of 12,000 acres of old-growth forests that the Forest Service didn't protect from clear-cutting.

"It's interesting that we're finding all this old growth, and that [Forest Service officials] have insisted for years that there was none," Martin says.

Forest Service officials say the final plan will be released before the end of this year.

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