April - June 2001
North Star: The Magazine of the North Country Trail
Dissent: Threats to Allegheny Cited Editor's Note: An article by Bill Menke in last FaLL'.1 North Star minimized the threat» to the North Country National Scenic Trail from logging and other actioitiu in the Allegheny National Forest. The foikwing fetter from an NCTA member who ha.d hiked the entire trail in the /orut di.Jputu the autbor'» conclusions. The opinions expruJed on thu page M e/Jewhere in the North Star represent thOJe of tht; writer and not necuJarify thOJe of the AJJociation. As a member of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) and . someone who has hiked the 95-mile segment of the North Country Trail (NCT) through the Allegheny National Forest (Allegheny), I would like to address the logging and oil & gas drilling issue here. First let me take this opportunity to thank Bill Menke, retiring National 'Park Service Manager of the NCT, for his important years of work in' establishing the trail. That said, I also must speak to Mr. Menke's October/December 2000 North Star article on the Allegheny. · ·. While I understand the importance of maintaining a good relationship with all land owners along the trail, I believe he was too conciliatory, leaving the reader with the impression that there is little threat to the NCT here. There are in fact numerous timber sales planned along the NCT on the Allegheny which Mr. Menke did not mention: • The Pierson timber sale north of K~lletvillehas three cutting units ~ong the trail. • The Duck/Sheriff Project has six cutting units that lie along the trail, and several others that lie in close proximity. • The Eagle Mills timber sale north of the Tionesta old-growth forest has two clearcuts planned adjacent to the trail. • The East Side Project timber sale also has three cutting units planned along the NCT. The USDA in the Allegheny National Forest prioritizes clearcut log-
LETTERS ging for lucrative shade-intolerant black cherry timber production and oil & gas drilling over recreation and wildlife habitat. Unfortunately it is essentially written into their outdated 1986 Forest Management Plan to do so. Myself, Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), and our network of supporters believe a two mile wide corridor along the NCT through the Allegheny where no logging is allowed should eventually be established to protect the trail in perpetuity. At the very least, the Park Service should adopt the NCTA'sPolicy on Timber Harvesting which states in part: No cutting allowed within fifteen feet of the trail. Thu wou/:J aLlow a thirty foot wUJe corridor of uncut woodland to cross a harvest area. With regard to oil & gas drilling activities that in the recent past have severely damaged the NCT in the Allegheny, Mr. Menke describes this as "Unfortunate, but it cannot be helped." However, the Forest Service could purchase mineral
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BLACK CHERRYtree marked for cutting along the NCT. Note the extra paint mark over the trail diamond itJe/f. What mu,1age Wa.d the marker trying to Jend?
rights under the trail corridor so that drilling activity accommodates the NCT, not the other way around. The Park Service Director should have a vision in which the NCT is a permanent fixture not constantly subject to the threat of oil & gas drilling. Another issue of concern is the Forest Service's pending proposal to replace toilets at remote campgrounds by opening a section of the NCT as a road for heavy equipment. ADP believes another alternative can and should be utilized such as barging the equipment in via the Allegheny Reservoir. Opening the NCT as a road, even temporarily, sets a poor precedent. Also, as Mr. Menke states, "Halfway to the two campgrounds, the old road fizzles out and the equipment will have to follow a new, through-the-woods route." This means the Forest Service will have to build a new road to the two campgrounds. This will involve cutting trees and grading a road through the forested interior of the Tracy Ridge National Recreation Area, which was supposed to have been protected through the passage of the Pennsylvania Wilderness Act of 1984. Finally, ADP recommends that when the NPS hires a new NCT Manager, the successful candidate should, rather than being a professional forester, be an outdoor recreation specialist with a strong interest in ecology or conservation biology. Kirk Johnson Forest Watch Coordinator Allegheny Defense Project P.O. Box 245, Clarion, PA 16214 (814) 223-4996 email@example.com www.alleghenydefense.org