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Update on Forest Service Planning

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One of the more interesting developments associated with the plan isn’t what is happening at the USFS or in their meetings, but outside the meetings. Within the last couple of months County Commissioners in Macon, Graham, Clay and Cherokee counties have all passed resolutions opposing any additional wilderness/designated areas within Forest Service lands in their counties. That would comprise most of the Nantahala National Forest. This was brought on by a previous USFS public meeting where the topic was Wilderness and Designated areas.

These resolutions are important because of environmental group efforts to increase the amount of wilderness and designated areas. Let’s look at the facts. There are over 1 million acres in both the Pisgah and Nantahala NF. If you total all of the land currently under some form of designation, you come up with nearly 500 thousand acres, half of the current land mass. Most designated areas have severe restrictions on any form of land management. As example, during the Linville Gorge fire last year, which is congressionally designated Wilderness Area, fire fighters could not use any mechanical equipment to contain the fire. I remember reading they had to get USFS HQ approval just to use leaf blowers.

Adding to the designated areas reduces opportunities for wildlife habitat work and timber operations which in the previously mentioned counties is an economic factor. Did you know that 46% of Macon County is USFS land? That means the county is not collecting property taxes on it. Timber company activity off-sets that loss of tax base while providing wildlife habitat.

And speaking of wildlife habitat, land disturbance caused by timber operations is the most cost effective way of providing the young forest growth that most wildlife need. In a previous meeting the USFS had a chart that showed all their management areas had goals of 5 to 15 percent young forest growth. Across the board they barely achieved one percent. So how will they achieve a goal of even five percent if they are taking out more land from active management?

Folks the science is conclusive. For 75 years sportsmen have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to wildlife habitat and research and that research says that all forest wildlife need a mosaic of different types of forest growth for different purposes at varying times of the year. Remember, humans are just visitors to the forests; wildlife are full time residents.

I applaud the decision of these county commissioners to take this stand for their communities. Needless to say the environmentalists and preservationists are livid. It is time for communities and hunters to take our forests back from these ill-directed people who value trees over wildlife.

If you are a shooter who has been eyeing the new Remington R51 pistol for concealed carry, shift your glare in another direction. The gun was introduced by Remington at the 2014 SHOT show with much fanfare. What went un-noticed was that Remington did not have any of the guns at SHOT show Range Day where the outdoor press gets to try new products. A couple of months later I started reading reports and reviews in gun magazines and blogs about feed and jam problems among other things. Also, people who sent the guns in for repair to Remington were waiting and waiting with no answers.

Finally word leaked out last week that Remington had removed any reference to the much heralded slim little 9mm concealed carry gun had been removed from their website. If you type R51 in the search block no results are shown. So might I recommend looking at the Beretta NANO, Ruger LC9, Springfield XDS 9, or S&W Shield as reliable options. I don’t think you are going to see the Remington R51 anytime soon. And if they do reintroduce people will be so soured on the gun nobody will buy it.

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