Bath Forest Plan Workshop Meeting Coming Up On Wednesday, July 27th
Warm Springs, VA – About 174,000 acres of Bath County are in the National Forest. And future plans for that forest are under consideration now. The draft revision of the George Washington National Forest plan is out. And officials want public input to see what people want from the national forest. Ken Landgraf is the Planning Staff Officer for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
“There are a number of things in the forest plan that are begin proposed for changes” he says. “One of the main things that we heard from the public as we were working through the planning process, was the importance of protecting water quality on the forest; that’s the reason we have the national forest, for water quality protection. We will be expanding the area along streams where we use special protection measures to make sure that we’re protecting water quality and taking care of the aquatic species that utilize those streamside areas.”
In Bath County, the draft forest plan increases the amount of land available for timber harvest. But it maintains similar levels of timber harvest as what’s in the current plan, which is 3,000 acres per year. The Forest Service has recently been harvesting about 1,000 acres of timber per year.
“We did increase the amount of land that would be available for timber harvest” says Landgraf. “It was the amount of land that we could look at for potential harvest. And the reason we increased it was to give ourselves a little more flexibility so that we can put those timber harvests in locations that will give us the best habitat improvement, and also allow us to address social concerns that often come up when we propose timber harvest.”
A public workshop on the forest plan revision will be held at Valley Elementary School on Wednesday July 27 from 6:30 until 9pm. This is one of six workshops being held around the western part of Virginia. And it’s your chance to provide feedback on the draft plan.
“Another thing that we’re looking at is making sure that we’re doing a good job of restoring the ecosystems on the forest” he says. “What we’re finding is that most of the forest is mature forest and we’ve got a good supply of mature and older aged forests, but we’re lacking a bit on the early aged forests in the areas that have a little bit more open canopy. We are looking at increasing the use of prescribed fire to get the ecosystems more in line with where they had been historically.”
If you can’t make it to the workshop, you can still review the draft plan and submit your comments. Call the US Forest Service office in Bath at 839-2521 for more information. All comments need to be submitted by September 1.