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Environmentalists encourage participation in public comment period of Jellico forest logging project

Map of the Jellico area
U.S. Forest Service
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Map of the Jellico area

Nearly 10-thousand acres of mature and old-growth forest could be logged with a plan offered by the U.S. Forest Service. The service has released its Draft Environmental Assessment for the Jellico Vegetation Management Project. This project would log thousands of trees in the Jellico mountains in southeastern Kentucky west of I-75 between Williamsburg and Whitley City.

Environmentalists have many concerns about this project, including the removal of old-growth forests. They say the logging would also impact  several species of endangered bats living in the project area.

Lauren Kallmeyer is the executive director of Kentucky Heartwood. In an interview on WEKU’s Eastern Standard, she said one of their concerns is the potential for more landslides. She said the government's plan doesn't do enough to mitigate landslides.

“Because these are such steep mountains, there is landslide risk, the geology is unstable. There's coal seams and all kinds of different soil structures that come into place that make this a particularly landslide prone region.”

Officials with the U.S. Forest service say these concerns are being addressed in their assessment.

Tim Reed is the U.S. Forest Service Stearns District Ranger. While speaking with WEKU’s Eastern Standard, he said actions like this are necessary for ecosystems to thrive.

“We need a little bit of diversity for wildlife habitat. We want oak, age class forests, we wants some middle age class forests, we want some younger forests working together to provide the habitats necessary to support a variety of wildlife species living in the area. This is just a small step in trying to move things in that direction.”

Public comment will be taken until 11:59 Friday night. The form can be found HERE.HERE.

Click HERE for more information about the Jellico Vegetation Management Project.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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