The wildlands in this report —67 areas totaling about 275,000 acres — are special places that should be protected from logging and road construction. These federally owned lands, selected for their outstanding wild and natural values, include high-quality fisheries, mature-forest wildlife habitat, backcountry recreation opportunities, intact watersheds, and beautiful scenery.
Currently, only about 7% of the Jefferson National Forest is permanently preserved as wilderness —about 58,000 acres in 11 areas. These areas are generally small, averaging about 5,700 acres — far below the national average for national forest wilderness of around 40,000 acres. Many of these areas were identified in the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation II (RARE II) conducted by the Forest Service in the late 1970s. Some RARE II areas, however, still lack protection.
For the plan revision, the Forest Service is studying about 164,000 acres of roadless areas and additional lands for possible recommendation to Congress for wilderness designation. For acreages of inventoried roadless areas, see the Summary Table.
Many of the lands under study would make outstanding wilderness, and should be recommended and designated. For reasons of recreation and ecology, more and larger wilderness areas are needed.
The Forest Service also is evaluating eligible segments for possible recommendation as wild and scenic rivers. Many of these are also superlative and should be designated. Other lands also can be legislated as national scenic areas or other categories that will ensure enduring protection.
Although less permanent than wilderness, about 155,000 acres of the Jefferson National Forest receive administrative protection as special management areas, the Appalachian Trail corridor, semi-primitive non-motorized areas, and other categories. About 40 percent of the forest, however, including many of the areas described in this report, is considered suitable for timber production, and is open to logging and road construction under existing management direction.
In the upcoming plan revision, the Forest Service will be using a variety of administrative categories to designate special areas for their values as old-growth forest, backcountry recreation, scenery, and watershed protection. This can ensure that these areas are protected from logging and road construction during the 10- to 15-year life of the plan.
The maps used in this report are the Forest Service recreation maps for the Jefferson National Forest, dated 1983, and available from the agency for $4 each.
On the maps in this report, a heavy black line denotes the general boundary of the wildland. Shaded areas represent land in federal ownership. Heavily shaded areas are designated wilderness. Unshaded areas are private land. The cluster maps are much reduced in scale, and vary to fit the page.
In the selection of areas proposed for protection, attempts were made to keep watersheds intact and to cluster areas to form wildlife corridors and reduce fragmentation. In conjunction with wildlands in the adjacent George Washington and Cherokee national forests, this proposal would contribute to a network of natural lands across the Southern Appalachians.