Critical Chance For Wildlife Management In National Forests

The deadline to comment on the Foothills Landscape Project is tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 10. GON strongly supports Alternative 2, the proposed action.

Daryl Kirby | January 9, 2020

Sportsmen have until this Friday, Jan. 10, to comment on a project characterized by a wildlife researcher and biologist as, “The most significant opportunity to improve wildlife habitat, restore active forest management, and enhance fishing and hunting opportunities on the Chattahoochee National Forest in the last 30 years.
Wildlife and forest management of the Chattahoochee National Forest in north Georgia has become largely nonexistent and neglected, and not by choice of the professionals. It has been stymied and stalled by preservation groups through lawsuits and an endless hijacking of the bureaucratic process, groups that apparently feel any tree cut down is a Forest Service sin.
The result has been a monoculture of closed-canopy forest that’s already almost barren of wildlife. Deer, which can adapt to live almost anywhere, are almost extinct in parts of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The sound of grouse drumming on most of the Chattahoochee National Forest is a distant memory. University researchers are currently studying the dramatic decline in populations in the north Georgia mountains and how those declines correlate to a lack of forest and wildlife management.
There’s a chance to right these wrongs with the Foothills Landscape Project, and the chance to comment ends tomorrow, Jan. 10, 2020.

Click here to comment. GON strongly supports the Proposed Action, Alternative 2.

Benefits of the Foothills Landscape Project include:
• Enhance up to 7,400 acres of closed-canopy forests, 12,400 acres of pine stands, and 43,800 acres of oak and oak-pine forests. Allow timber thinning to create open forest stands to promote herbaceous understory that will improve foraging, nesting and cover habitat critical for deer, turkey, grouse and other species, and then maintain these thinned forest stands with understory—which is critical habitat—through prescribed fire.
• Create, maintain or expand up to 1,400 acres of wildlife openings.
• Restore up to 50 acres of canebrake, which provides important habitat for woodcock and other species.
• Protect trout streams by expanding hemlock conservation areas up to 600 acres for treatments to suppress the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect that is killing hemlock trees. Hemlock are important for maintaining trout stream temperature and habitat.
• Create up to 10,500 acres of early successional habitat through daylighting roads, timber thinning, small clearcuts and managed wildlife openings. Early successional habitat is critical to grouse, deer, wild turkey and many other wildlife species. This habitat is severely limited on the Chattahoochee National Forest with less than 0.2% of the Foothills Landscape in early successional habitat.
• Replace existing culverts or improve structures on up to 225 stream crossings to enhance ability for trout and other aquatic organisms to move upstream and downstream.


There is misleading and inaccurate information being promoted by preservation organizations regarding the Foothills Landscape Project. This misinformation suggests that there was a lack of public participation and that the public is giving up its opportunity for further comment. In fact, this project is developed under the existing Land and Resource Management Plan for the Chattahoochee National Forest (aka Forest Plan), and this project is consistent with the Forest Plan. The Forest Plan goals and objectives reflect the desires of more than 3,000 individuals who provided more than 30,000 comments. All of the public involvement information can be found at

In a nutshell, this effort is the culmination of a robust and unprecedented public participation effort through a deliberate and transparent process. Since 2016, the U.S. Forest Service has worked to promote collaboration between those who love the National Forests. The Forest Service convened two rounds of Community Conversations, four integrated workshops, five small group meetings and eight field trips.

“Beginning in 2016, partners and community members from across north Georgia have been working together with the Forest Service to realize a shared vision to address the complex conservation challenges across this landscape,” the Forest Service said. “The purpose of the engagement was to discuss and debate the restoration needs on the landscape and the potential tools to improve the ecosystem’s resilience to disturbance and sustainability. In 2018, stakeholders met to collaboratively develop alternatives and design a multi-party monitoring plan.” Click here for more background information on the collaboration effort behind the Foothills Landscape Project.

It appears that no amount of science and public comment will ever be enough for preservationists who seem to be satisfied with nothing but closed-canopy, monoculture forests.

The Foothills Landscape Project has involved exhaustive scientific study (see below).


Specialist Reports
Air Quality Report
Aquatics Report
Botanical Resource Report
Climate Change Report
Cultural Resources Report
Fire and Fuels Report
Hydrology Resources Report
Non-Native Invasive Species
Roadless Report
Soil Resource Report
Terrestrial Wildlife Resource Report
Vegetation Specialist Report
Recreation Specialist Report

It is never enough. Scientifically backed management is never allowed to proceed. Wildlife and the forest continue to suffer. Again, there’s a chance to right these wrongs with the Foothills Landscape Project, and the chance to comment ends tomorrow, Jan. 10, 2020.

Click here to comment. GON strongly supports the Proposed Action, Alternative 2.

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