We believe that the commercial logging the state has endorsed in the park is in conflict with the park’s original founding documents, mission, and funding. We have brought our concerns to the state through a variety of forums and have yet to hear our questions and concerns answered adequately.
We see our primary focus as informing the public about the commercial logging and its conflict with recreational uses and the park’s original purpose. Following that, if negotiation doesn’t lead to changes in policy, we are prepared to take legal action. In preparation, we have already raised $60,000 and prepared a legal case.
We hope we don’t have to take this step but are committed to action if the state isn’t willing to stop commercial logging in the park or substantially modify its current logging policy.
Our legal challenge would be aimed at the State, as well as the National Park Service, since they are the agency responsible for ensuring that the property is managed in compliance with the LWCF program. Filing a suit would be a last-resort effort.
It seems to us that the public lands within the State’s parks are not the most logical place for resource extraction activities such as logging. They are more typically places where people can go and pursue recreational activities and enjoy nature in a more or less natural state. This is the purpose for which the park was founded according to the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s (LWCF) mandate.
NH is a state rich in many public and private lands that are much more suited to commercial timber extraction. According to DRED’s website, five million acres in the state are being managed for timber resources.
On the other hand, the Department of Forests and Lands website lists only 12,000 acres of park land statewide, not including Pisgah. Simple math indicates that the state is more in need of land for recreation than acreage for logging. Our argument: with so much land managed for timber, why log in Pisgah at all?
We are interested in protecting the original purpose and mission of Pisgah State Park as stated in the founding documents, which indicated that the land would be a “wilderness state park” used primarily for recreation.
As a result of the new management plan and the recent actions of the state, we feel that the agencies responsible for the management of the park have lost sight of that founding purpose.
We are also interested in educating the public about the recent policy changes and in recruiting people who are interested in protecting this unusual public resource for future generations. If enough voices are heard in favor of the founding plans for the park, we believe that the policymakers will need to pay attention.
For some people, a “healthy forest” means one that produces lots of timber. Others in the forestry business believe that other factors contribute to forest health. There is an ongoing debate in the forestry research community about young forests and old forests.
A forest is a complex system and the answer to the question of forest health depends on how you define the word “healthy.” One thing that’s not in dispute is that wherever there is forest disturbance there will be danger of invasives, which are expensive for the state to manage.
Regardless of the debate on forest health, Pisgah Defenders’ position is that Pisgah State Park is not a working forest. It’s a recreational park. We should be discussing how to best use and manage it for low-impact public recreation, as it was intended, rather than get distracted by debates over forest management.
When the NH parks’ budget was slashed and a self-funding model was adopted, more and more of the maintenance and improvement activities were picked up by FOP with the state’s blessing.
Over the years, FOP has worked hard on providing the missing support—maintaining trails, keeping maps at the trail heads, opening the Visitor Center and Museum, providing educational programs and many other activities that improve visitors’ recreational experience in the park. These activities have been welcomed by the state and have helped fill a void.
When commercial logging was first suggested during the development of the recent management plan for Pisgah, some members of FOP objected. They were told by the state that if they continued their objection, they would be prevented from performing their volunteer services in the park. As a result, some FOP members resigned from the group to help form Pisgah Defenders.