Mountaintop Vigil Protests Timber Sales

If environmentalists in the Upstate have their way, they will prevent one of the most destructive timber sales ever proposed on public lands in the Chattooga watershed. The Tuckaluge sale proposed by the U.S. Forest Service would harvest over eight million board feet of timber and build more than nine miles of roads.

Tuckaluge Creek is in the Rabun Bald roadless area, identified as one of the largest and most important blocks of unroaded native forest in the Southern Appalachians.

The area was not included in a recent inventory of roadless areas conducted by the Forest Service because the proposed Tuckaluge timber sale is in one of the last areas in the watershed where there is enough timber that could be harvested to meet timber quotas.

Why does this matter? The Rabun Bald area is one of the most biologically diverse forests in the Chattooga watershed, biologists say. The 14,000 acres in the Rabun Bald area proposed for protection provide homes for many species of plants and animals already in trouble.

"What is happening in the Chat-tooga watershed is a microcosm of a much larger problem on public lands throughout the country," said Buzz Williams of the Chattooga River Watershed Coalition.

"Agencies like the Forest Service are being driven by an industry-controlled Congress to enter these last remaining roadless areas to meet unsus-tainable timber quotas."

"Scientists tell us that the greatest threat to our society is the loss of biological diversity," said Tom Hatley of the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition. "These roadless areas are the key to providing habitat for a host of species of native plants and animals which are increasingly being threatened by excessive road building and timber harvesting."

Upstate environmentalist groups will meet with the supervisor of the Chattahoochee National Forest on Sept. 28. To raise public awareness and to leverage pressure, protesters kicked off a month-long vigil on top of Rabun Bald Aug. 26.

They are asking for volunteers to spend a day, an hour, or whatever time they can spare to keep at least two people atop the mountain until the meeting.

"This is not just a fight to save the Chattooga," said Peter Kirby of the Wilderness Society. "If we lose here, we lose all across the Southern Appalachians where roadless areas are being threatened by timber sales on public lands."

Anyone interested in joining the vigil on Rabun Bald should call Forest Watch at 647-8804.

Contents Page

© Copyright by POINT, 1995

Last modified 9/12/95