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