The U.S. Forest Service is about to complete a 25-year plan that will decide how much of the Pisgah-Nantahala National forest is cut and how much is protected. Already, the Forest Service has received 15,000 comments on the plan, and 98% support more protections for the Pisgah-Nantahala.

So far, though, the Forest Service has not been enthusiastic about including more protected areas in its plan. And young people will be most affected by this 25-year plan, but their voices have not been included so far.

I HEART PISGAH hopes to change that. This Friday, August 17, they are organizing a Youth Rally for the Forest at the Forest Service headquarters in Asheville. The rally and meeting are free and open to everyone. Youth of all ages—and grownups, too—will have the opportunity to speak directly with the Forest Supervisor, and several media outlets will be there.

Kids and grownups don’t need to know anything about forest planning; all you need is a love of being outdoors. There will be music, ice cream, and an open mic. Signs, t-shirts, and stickers will be available for free for all kids and grownups.

It’s a rare opportunity to speak directly to decision-makers and make a meaningful impact on the future of our national forest.

The rally and meeting will begin at 9:30 and take place at the Forest Service headquarters at 160 Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC 28801. Learn more at iheartpisgah.org/news.

I HEART PISGAH is a coalition of over 75 organizations and businesses—and thousands of citizens—who support more protected areas for the Pisgah-Nantahala, especially its trail networks and corridors, waterfalls, old-growth forests, rare species habitats, and recreational hubs.

The Pisgah-Nantahala is the second-most visited national forest in the country. Nearly 7 million people visited the 1.1-million acre forest in North Carolina last year, and over 90 percent of them were hikers, bikers, runners, paddlers, climbers, anglers, naturalists, photographers, and nature-seeking outdoor enthusiasts. I HEART PISGAH works to make sure that their voices are heard by the Forest Service and represented in the forest plan. Learn more at iheartpisgah.org.