As Brent Martin stared down the barrel of an impending tug-of-war over Western North Carolina's national forests, he dreaded yet another round in the same old fight that’s played out time and time again in his decades as an environmental advocate.
Loggers versus wilderness lovers. Horseback riders versus hikers. Hunters versus environmentalists.
Each would make their case as the forest service launched into its periodic, obligatory assessment of how the forest is managed — a sweeping four-year process that would ultimately define goals, strategies and priorities for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests.
“The old way of doing things is everyone fights it out from their little corners and nobody gets anything they want and it is a miserable experience,” said Martin, regional director for the Wilderness Society’s Southern Appalachian headquarters in Sylva.
So he made a pitch to key players in the debate over public lands — including some archrivals — to put aside the days of diametrically opposed viewpoints.
“Instead of fighting, we are trying to get everyone to come together and put their interests out there, and then work together for common goals,” Martin said.
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