Land Between the Lake’s officials are addressing some confusion about their draft Scenery Management Plan which has raised concern among those who disagree with Forest Service management of the National Recreation Area.
Though the aesthetic plan includes suggestions for more open land along byways and clearing some trees and understory brush for better land and shoreline views, LBL Area Supervisor Tina Tilley says it will not create any additional work on the landscape, as some may think. She says it will guide the LBL in how they go about their work.
“In the past maybe we would have had more straighter lines when it came to management activities that we did,” Tilley said. “And this, by raising the awareness of visuals, maybe it would be more of a meandering edge just so it wouldn’t be so abrupt and more pleasing to the eye.”
The LBL's 2004 Land and Resource Management Plan dictates that the Forest Service must maintain a visually pleasing appearance. The Scenery Management plan will help LBL officials in implementing the Land and Resource Management Plan while keeping them conscious of visual appeal when implementing management practices such as timber harvests and prescribed burning.
Though LBL officials say the Scenery Management Plan does not mean more tree cutting or prescribed burning than otherwise, Director of the environmental advocacy group Kentucky Heartwood Jim Scheff says he’s concerned the plan reinforces bad practices.
“A lot of people have been very unhappy with management there over the last decade and the scenery management plan just further entrenches the types of management that they’ve been doing that a lot of people are unhappy with,” Scheff said.
The aesthetic plan outlines how LBL can use the management techniques outlined in its land management plan to enhance scenic appeal along roads and shoreline.
“If they were just limiting this stuff to roadsides and clearing brush from roadsides, that’d be fine,” Scheff said. “But that’s not what they’re talking about here.”
Scheff thinks the real problem lies with LBL’s Land and Resource Management Plan, which determines how the land is managed and with what techniques.
“We think they need to go back to the public and really revisit how they’re spending tax payer resources to manage that area, and what people really want and really need,” Scheff said.
Scheff adds that LBL is following its mission with the Scenery Management Plan by researching how people experience the national recreation area, but he believes the Forest Service is ignoring people’s concerns about management practices. He says people want more trail, road, and campground maintenance and thinks LBL officials should put more money into that than unnecessary and costly forest management.
Tilley says commercial timber sales, one of several timber management practices, do incur costs, but LBL is driven to conduct sales with no net loss.
“We do take the economics of vegetative management actions into consideration, but we do not harvest timber here at Land Between the Lakes strictly for commercial purposes,” Tilley said.
She says the main cost LBL incurs from a commercial sale is sending officials out to the harvesting sites to assure the logging company is following the contract and its environmental protection measures. She says whatever profits are gleaned from commercial timber sales are put back into maintenance projects.
But Tilley emphasizes that the Scenery Management Plan does not implement any timber harvests. The plan advises how timber harvests and other management techniques outlined in the Land and Resource Management Plan can be shaped to promote visual diversity and scenic appeal.
Tilley says the Forest Service wanted to share the Scenery Management Plan with the public but was not required to release it for a comment period. The comment period for the draft has been extended through December 31, 2014. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Scenery Management System Plan” in the subject line.