Big Butt is a 5,980-foot summit in Big Ivy, a section of Pisgah that’s home to the second-most old-growth forest and rare wildlife in the region. It’s a powerful place of big trees and big water.
Unfortunately, Big Butt and nearly all of Big Ivy’s 13,980 acres may soon be open to logging.
Big Ivy is a mountain biking mecca, fly fishing oasis, trail running hotspot, climbing paradise, and a hiker’s wet dream: cascades, creeks, and swimming holes abound in Big Ivy, including 70-foot Douglas Falls.
Big Ivy also includes classic outdoor destinations like Craggy Gardens, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Mountains to Sea Trail. Big Ivy’s panoramic vistas, hiking and mountain biking trails, climbing rocks, and waterfalls are some of the most beloved in the Blue Ridge.
Why is such a popular and precious recreation spot being targeted for logging? Simply put: We are being outshouted.
The timber industry, along with a small but vocal faction of deer and grouse hunters, want a lot more logging in national forests. They have been vocal in Forest Service planning sessions. Most of us recreation lovers have been too busy or blissed out to attend.
A handful of locals have also been clamoring to cut Big Ivy, mistakenly thinking that logging will bring jobs. At best, logging would offer only a few short-term jobs and leave behind a scarred legacy.
The best source of jobs for this region will not come from cutting old-growth forests, marring our scenic vistas, and polluting our pristine mountain streams.
Tourism and recreation are the biggest job creators in the Blue Ridge today. Protecting our forests from short-term, short-sighted logging is the best hope for long-term prosperity. In the Pisgah Ranger District last year, recreation provided over five times more revenue than logging.
Until recently, we outdoor enthusiasts have been too busy enjoying our forests to speak up for them. As a result, the Forest Service issued a timber industry-friendly proposal late last year that would have opened over 70 percent of Big Ivy and Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest lands to commercial logging.
Thankfully, outdoor enthusiasts rallied. Hikers turned out in droves to protest proposed logging on Bluff Mountain near Hot Springs. And in February, over 300 outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists turned out at a community meeting with the Forest Service in an overwhelming show of support for protecting Big Ivy’s forest.
The next day, the Forest Service called for a do-over. They plan to scrap their original Pisgah-Nantahala proposal and start over.
We’ve been given a second chance. Let’s not miss this opportunity to speak for the trees and the trails. One million acres of public lands depend on our voices being heard.