Once gone, we will never know the falls and hike the same again. Act now!
District Ranger Jason Nedlo and the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) have decided to go ahead with destroying our playground, the national forest in Rockcastle, Laurel and Pulaski Counties. Last week they responded to comments to protect Pine Island Double Falls by stating the following in a letter: “...I have decided to protect the Pine Island Double Falls area...” That is a boldface lie when you look at their revised map (see below for comparison).
The forest offices have received more calls about how to get to Pine Island Double Falls than anything else this year. Yet after all those calls and after receiving over 100 comments asking District Ranger Jason Nedlo to protect Pine Island Double Falls, this is what he did:
Since I am not a forester and do not understand their fancy and foreign language, I have broken it down for myself as well as you to understand what they really mean, in our language.
Red = Death Their map even shows 'Early Seral Habit' as the bloody death red. The death of the forest. This is shelterwood cutting which looks like the following (Picture from the Forest Service):
Look at all the trees they remove! The forest service even states this about this type of logging: "The shelterwood may be removed at a later date (e.g., 5 to 10 years)." They log most of it now, leaving some trees, only to return in a few years to take the rest. So we are left with a forest of 5-year-old trees. That is bullshit! Shelterwood is essentially clear-cutting but in two stages. Do you want ALL of the trees around Pine Island to disappear? With no management, this is ripe for invasive species to take hold and to kill off all the native plants. This also leaves logging roads, logging landings (large clear cut areas for loading logs) and logging slash (piles of branches that the sawmill doesn't want) behind. Recent forest fires this fall have had plenty of fuel with logging slash left behind in Pulaski County, right across the Rockcastle River from Pine Island Double Falls.
Pink = Near-Death This is Commercial Thinning. It is what it sounds like. They come in and sell some of our trees. So you still have logging roads, logging landings, and logging slash. They thin out some of the trees to make more room for the remaining ones to grow. This way they can come back in a decade or two to better trees for them to log the rest. The guide to commercial thining states "Specific objectives identified are to enhance total crop value." The guide goes on to say that an objective of commercial thinning is "to obtain wood volume or revenue earlier than the usual harvest." They want to increase the value of the forest for future logging. Commercial Thinning is not the absolute worst thing, but if they really wanted to better the forest they could cut trees in a less impactful way, but that would require not selling them to special interests.
Yellow=Previous Death This is Crop Top Release. What in the world is that? That is where they come in and do non-commercial thining (what Pink should be!). This is to give some hardwoods (think Oaks and Hickories) an advantage to grow. Why do they need to do this? Because this part of the forest was clear cut or Shelterwood Cut back in the 1980's or 1990's. So this is what happens to the forest when the Red Death comes, 30 to 40 years later trying to fix their mess and mistakes. Yet they continue to do the same to OUR forest.
Blue=Happy for Now This is the heavy logging (nearly clearcut) that they have removed. Not much at all. Beyond that, it is the only area they removed after the 100+ comments in the entire project area, which covers 113,300 acres (aka 177 square miles!!!).
Pine Island Double Falls is under threat from the National Forest Service. The spectacular forest that you hike through to reach the falls is being proposed to be cut down for timber. Contact the Forest Service right away as September 4th is the deadline.