If finalized, the special use authorization will allow the landowners to construct, at their expense, a road across NFS lands to their 50-acre tract of private property located within the Fires Creek watershed near Hayesville, N.C. The access route, authorized by the Forest Service, will require reconstruction and repair of portions of the Rockhouse Branch Road (Forest Service Road 340A), Phillips Ridge Road (Forest Service Road 340A1) and construction of approximately one-third mile of new road on NFS lands.
Federal regulations require the Forest Service to provide access to private property that is surrounded by Forest Service land so the landowner may experience "reasonable use and enjoyment" of their property (36 CFR 251.54). The Forest Service requires the landowner requesting access across NFS lands to exhaust all alternatives means of access through private property or other rights-of-way before approving access across public lands.
"This draft decision strives to strike a balance between private property rights and protecting valuable forest resources," said Kristin Bail, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in North Carolina. "We worked hard to ensure that community members' concerns with the project were addressed in the draft decision."
Since 2010, the Forest Service has been conducting an environmental assessment to analyze and disclose the effects to national forest land that could result from the road construction. The environmental assessment considered effects to the environment related to water quality, acidic rock, wildlife habitat, scenery, recreation, heritage and cultural resources, and other issues. As part of the analysis, the Forest Service considered comments from individual citizens and a wide variety of organizations concerning the project.
On June 25, 2015, Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail released a draft decision on this project that authorizes the landowners to construct a road to access their property. In accordance with federal regulations, the Forest Service will offer a 45-day formal objection period on the draft decision, which will begin with a legal notice published in the Asheville Citizen Times. The legal notice is expected to be published on June 25, 2015.
Feel free to share any post from the WKRK website that you feel is beneficial to your community. We encourage input from local law enforcement, government officials, emergency management officials, schools and other public service organizations. To send us information, use the form on our Contact Us page.