The US Forest Service released a set of documents this week modifying a proposal to cut over 3,700 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest at Cooper Ceeek in Union County. The updated proposal would reduce the area to be cut to just under 2,600 acres. While the Forest Service touts this project as one that will promote forest health, it admits in its draft Environmental Assessment for the project that at least some decisions about where and how much timber to cut were based on commercial interests.
In dismissing a request to limit cutting to 30-40 year old trees in areas that had previously been cut, the Forest Service explains that those trees would be too small to produce commercially viable timber.
More than 1,600 acres of the cutting will be commercial timber harvests. The rest will consist of non-commercial thinning.
The Forest Service also dismissed calls to restrict cutting to scientifically-based projects that promote ecological restoration, a position seemingly at odds with the Forest Service’s position that the project is meant to promote the health and resiliency of the forest.
The Forest Service brushed aside concerns about the project’s impacts on climate change as well. While admitting that the project will lead to increased carbon emissions, the Forest Service reasons that the increased emissions will be too small to matter when measured globally.
The Forest Service is accepting public comments on this project through February 5th.