Latest Public Land Grab Bill, Environmental Event Roundup

The Benton McKaye Trail Association’s newsletter featured notices of two bills that are of concern to people who enjoy our national forests. One would allow bicycles on trails, the other would cleverly transfer public lands to various states.

” Two bills have been recently introduced in Congress that would, if passed, impact the future of our forests:

 The Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act (S.3205) was introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The legislation would allow bikers to join hikers and horseback riders in those scenic, undisturbed areas. The bill would require “local officials” of the USFS, NPS, BLM and FWS to designate within two years all wilderness trails not be opened to bicycles, otherwise they would default to bicycles being allowed. The proposal is controversial within the biking community and opposed by many conservationists who believe bikes would erode trails and upset the fivedecade notion of wilderness as primitive spaces.

 The State National Forest Management Act of 2015 (H.R.3650) was introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-AK). This bill would direct the Forest Service, to convey to any state up to two million acres of the National Forest System (NFS) that the state elects to acquire through enactment of a state bill meeting certain criteria. States would pay or swap lands to the Forest Service for the Fair Market Value of the land transferred. The portions of the NFS conveyed to a state would be “administered and managed primarily for timber production.”

There’s an upcoming Hemlock Event, co-sponsored by the Benton McKaye folks and Save Georgia’s Hemlocks, which involves treating trees in the Falls Branch/Stanley Creek area, near the Gilmer/Fannin line. This is a beautiful area, and it’s a great chance to learn how to treat your own trees, as well as a good thing to do. Here’s the info. Note there’s a link to the flyer.

.  For the seventh consecutive year,  SGH and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association will again partner with the U. S. Forest Service for this event that combines education and service in celebration of National Public Lands Day.   Click here for the flyer.

At the start of the day, volunteers will receive a brief orientation and safety reminder and then work in teams to treat or retreat the trees in the Stanley Creek hemlock conservation area near Fall Branch Falls in the Cherry Log area of Gilmer County.  At midday everyone will come together for a picnic lunch and some interesting lunch-and-learn presentations, including how to treat your own trees, an update on what’s happening in the forest, news about bio-controls, and more.  After lunch teams will finish the treatment activity and be ready to depart no later than 3 p.m.

Sign-up is required.  For information or to volunteer, please call 706-429-8010 or email

The Georgia Mountain Research Center in Blairsville is hosting a first ever SeptTIMBER Forestry Field Day. It doesn’t seem to be on their website, so here’s a link to an article in the North Georgia News. It is primarily aimed at local landowners and covers nuisance wildlife, tree identification, invasive plants and trees, and diseases and pests of native trees. It will also cover best management practices.

On September 17, the Cherokee Heritage Festival will be held at the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, located next to the Clay County Museum in Haysville, NC. The festival will feature native plant walks. There will also be exhibits and a silent craft auction. It’s all free, from 10:00 – 3:00. For more information, 828.389.3045 or


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