Carolina Mountain Club

Courthouse Creek Project

Carolina Mountain Club Comments

Courthouse Creek Project

January 9, 2013

The Carolina Mountain Club appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Courthouse Creek Environmental Assessment.  CMC  leads over 175 scheduled hikes per year, including hikes in the project area, and maintains about 400 miles of trails in Western North Carolina, including the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

CMC opposed the Courthouse Creek logging project.

One of the natural wonders of Pisgah National Forest is the indescribable yearly display of pink shell azaleas on the Art Loeb Trail in early May from Pilot Mountain to Farlow Gap and beyond.  This hike is a pilgrimage for the Carolina Mountain Club with at least two hikes offered, sometimes specifically for photography.  Often, the hikers are split into groups to accommodate the large turnout, including out-of-state visitors.  Ephemeral canopies of delicate pink flowers are a delight.   According to the NC Natural Heritage Program, pink shell azalea is endemic to North Carolina and that a substantial concentration of the species population exists in this portion of the Pisgah Ranger District.

Farlow Gap is home not only to rare pink shell azaleas, but blankets of trout lilies densely carpet the forest floor.  Although trout lilies are common in PNF, this display is uncommonly prolific.  It attracts hikers, and is included in CMC’s Pilot Mountain hikes. We request that stand 88-16 near Farlow Gap, in particular, be excluded from logging.

The Art Loeb Trail is a nationally recognized thirty-mile long distance trail that is the boundary of the project area.   The biological diversity and scenic beauty attract visitors to multi-day hikes, in addition to day hikes.  The value of the trail vicinity for recreation is exceptional.  The vicinity of the Art Loeb Trail is not the place for a logging project.

The Carolina Mountain Club is glad to see that the USFS considers the view shed from the Art Loeb Trail in its analysis.  In addition, the project area is visible from the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and we request that the view shed from the MST be considered.

Courthouse Falls is part of the club?s waterfall challenges and logging would destroy this beautiful view shed.

We urge the Forest Service to provide buffers between trails and forest management projects to protect the scenic and recreational values of the trails.

The Carolina Mountain Club supports protection of the hiking experience by giving the highest priority to conserving and restoring the health of ecological systems through which trails pass.  We request that to meet forest plan goals, the Pisgah District log areas that are less important for biodiversity, conservation, and recreation than the Courthouse Creek area.  We ask that logging in the Pisgah Ridge Significant Natural Heritage Area be avoided.  We deem it imperative to protect the outstanding ecological and recreational values of the Courthouse Creek area. 

Letitia Ann Desjardins

Chair, Conservation Committee

Carolina Mountain Club

865 Bear River Lodge Trail

Marshall, NC  28753-7659 

www.carolinamountainclub.org

 

CMC Comments to Pisgah Ranger District

CAROLINA MOUNTAIN CLUB
P.O. BOX 68
ASHEVILLE, NC 28802

October 25, 2011

Jeffrey B. Owenby, Acting District Ranger
Pisgah Ranger District
1001 Pisgah Highway
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

Subject: Courthouse Creek Project Proposal

Dear Ranger Owenby,

We, the Carolina Mountain Club, hike and maintain many trails in western North
Carolina, including the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. We gratefully
and humbly respect the opportunity to comment from time to time on the Forest
Service?s planned projects.

We wish, though, to express our opposition to the subject Courthouse Creek Logging
Project. The club actively hikes over Pilot Mountain on the long-distance Art Loeb Trail
which overlooks Courthouse Creek and Courthouse Falls. Courthouse Falls is one of
the club?s waterfall challenges and logging would destroy this beautiful view shed. A
view shed analysis should be performed to minimize the impact to this environment.
Another reason for our opposition is that two hundred acres of the planned logging is
actually located in a Natural State Preserve. Also, the club would like to see the Forest
Service include the Mountain Treasure areas in their project planning so that these
areas can have a means of corridors for further natural environmental protections.
The Carolina Mountain Club supports the provision of the best possible hiking
experience throughout western North Carolina and the surrounding area. To ensure
this, we support a logical system of trails for loop hikes and long-distance hikes, as well
as for access to points of interest and a wide variety of scenery and habitats. Under
most circumstances, we oppose decommissioning hiking trails and we oppose
converting hiking trails, including trails with dual trail / road designation, to roads.
To further protect the hiking experience, CMC urges the Forest Service to protect trail
tread from damage by machines, water and erosion in all forest management projects.
We urge the Forest Service to provide buffers between trails and forest management
projects to protect the scenic and recreational values of the trails.
The Carolina Mountain Club also supports protection of the hiking experience by giving
the highest priority to conserving and restoring the health of ecological systems through
which trails pass.

Thank you, again, for allowing us to comment on your project.

Sincerely,

Tish Desjardins
Conservation Committee Chair
Carolina Mountain Club