If you’re like me, you are constantly bombarded with e-petitions and other advocacy requests. Often, they seem far away or futile, and I rarely see their results.

I’ve attended my share of boring forest planning meetings, too, and rarely leave with much optimism.

But a new proposal could protect the forests in your backyard forever. It’s a game-changer, and your support could truly make a lasting impact.

A coalition of over 30 outdoor recreation and environmental groups have united behind a plan to recommend two national recreation areas in Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest: the 115,000-acre Pisgah National Recreation Area and the 57,000-acre Grandfather National Recreation Area. These areas would permanently protect the recreation opportunities in these forests and prohibit commercial logging, fracking, mining, and other extractive uses (some logging for wildlife habitat and restoration may still be permitted in these areas). The proposal would also encourage the Forest Service to recommend over 109,000 additional acres for wilderness across the Pisgah-Nantahala Forest.

Mountain bikers, equestrians, wilderness advocates, hikers, anglers, climbers, paddlers, and environmental groups have all endorsed the plan. Often these groups are at odds over forest management, but they all have worked together to craft this plan. Supporters include IMBA, Pisgah Area SORBA, Nantahala Area SORBA, The Wilderness Society, Carolina Climbers Coalition, Trout Unlimited, American Alpine Club, Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance, American Whitewater, Wild South, Friends of Big Ivy, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, MountainTrue, Access Fund, Outdoor Alliance, and the Nantahala Hiking Club. Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine proudly supports the plan, too.

It’s the most ambitious, far-reaching, and widely supported plan ever developed for the Pisgah-Nantahala, and it comes at just the right time. The Forest Service has recently included over 364,000 acres of the forest in its wilderness inventory and will consider 53 waterways for Wild and Scenic River status, which would forever protect water quality and habitat along our most beloved trout streams and whitewater creeks.

This is our best chance—and probably our only chance—to permanently protect our forests.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT for the National Recreation Areas proposal. Email comments to the Forest Service by December 15 to NCPlanRevision@fs.fed.us. View maps and learn more about the national recreation area plans at ncmountaintreasures.org

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