The U.S. Forest Service announced that it will issue a road easement to the landowners of a piece of private property. The private tract is completely surrounded by National Forest System (NFS) lands on the Tusquitee Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest. Access through National Forest lands is the only access available to the landowners.
The easement will allow the landowners to construct, at their expense, a road across NFS lands to their 50-acre tract of private property, which is located within the Fires Creek watershed, near the town of Hayesville, N.C. The route of access involves reconstructing and repairing portions of Rockhouse Branch Road (Forest Service Road 340A) and Phillips Ridge Road (Forest Service Road 340A1) and constructing approximately one-third of a mile of new road on NFS lands.
The Forest Service follows federal regulations in evaluating proposals from private landowners for access to private property. In situations where access to private property requires the use of NFS lands, the landowner must apply for authorization to use those federal lands.
Since 2010, the Forest Service has been conducting an environmental assessment that analyzes and discloses the effects to national forest land that could result from providing access to the private property. The environmental assessment discusses effects to the environment related to water quality, acidic rock, wildlife habitat, recreation and other issues. The Forest Service has received comments from citizens and a variety of groups concerning the project. On Tuesday June 25, Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail signed a decision on this project, which allows vehicular access to the private property.
Individuals and groups who submitted comments about the project during the 30-day notice and comment period December 2012 will have 45 days from the date of the decision to register an appeal of this decision with the Forest Service. At the conclusion of the 45-day period, the Forest Service will have 30 days to respond to any appeals.
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