One of our main objectives is to protect High Knob by obtaining congressional designated as a National Recreation Area. High Knob’s forests and watersheds are a source of drinking water, prevent flooding, and to give our community a place for safe and enriching recreation.
Our campaign to defend High Knob is built around a forest watch program which holds the Forest Service accountable for their management decisions in our National Forest. You can read our statement on the current proposed Nettle Patch forest management proposal here, as well as our submitted comments here. We are also working to get the 18.7 mile Chief Benge Scout Trail designated as a National Recreation Trail.
Agreement with Forest Service Reduces Timbering and Cancels Burning
After over 3 years of negotiations an agreement between the Forest Service and The Clinch Coalition resulted in reducing timbering in the Nettle Patch area from 1,419 acres to only 577 acres and canceling 1,122 acres of prescribed burns. This action protects high elevation habitats and tributary streams of the Guest River between Norton and Coeburn which flows into the Clinch River.
TCC would like to thank the Southern Environmental Law Center for their assistance as well as the Sierra Club and Wayne Browning who also contested the sale. We commend the Forest Service for listening to our concerns and working with us to resolve them.
In addition we address forest/water issues in our surrounding communities and all of Southwest Virginia.
We continues to monitor and respond to various activities that threaten our environment including:
TCC Responds to Environmental Damage on the Spearhead Trails System
For the past three years The Clinch Coalition engaged with a number of organizations regarding growing concerns over construction practices on the Spearhead Trails system, a 500-mile trail network developed mostly for All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). To date TCC has identified 9 routes on the Spearhead Trails system that allow ATVs to use stream beds as roads, including several streams on properties recently acquired by The Nature Conservancy. Other trails show troubling signs of potential water quality issues.
Following months of discussion with TCC, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) finally cited Spearhead’s Russell Fork Trail for "deficiencies" related to erosion and sediment control. DEQ also issued guidelines to Spearhead Trails detailing how construction practices should be modified across all trails to become compliant with Virginia law. Separately, two stream bed trails in Dickenson and Buchanan counties have been closed following assessments by Spearhead Trails' host landowners.
TCC continues to ensuring that remaining problems on the Spearhead Trails system are corrected and that future trails are developed in ways that both grow southwest Virginia's tourism economy and protect our natural resources
Big Cherry Update:
A proposal to log the Big Cherry Lake watershed was taken off the table by the Big Stone Gap Town Council this spring following objections raised by Clinch Coalition members and others. Columbia Forest Products promoted its logging plan as having potential for tourism development. TCC members will continue to monitor all future development proposals for Big Cherry Lake, which provides drinking water for the Big Stone Gap community.