The US Forest Service has opened a second comment period on their proposed logging project in the Sandwich Range. Please weigh in by October 23rd to push back on this reckless project that threatens mature forests, endangered species, water quality, and a prized landscape for quiet, backcountry recreation in the southern White Mountains.
It's time to take action!
The US Forest Service is proposing 650-acres of logging on the southern slopes of the Sandwich Range in the White Mountain National Forest, and they need to hear from you by October 23rd! The so-called "Sandwich Vegetation Management Project" threatens a landscape that has long been valued as a refuge and sanctuary for people and wildlife alike. Although much of this area was cleared for agriculture in the 1800s (as in the rest of New England), stately mature forests have returned in the ensuing century and are poised to grow healthier with each passing year...unless the Forest Service has its way.
If you value the White Mountain National Forest for its quiet beauty, mature forests, clean water, and incredible biodiversity, please submit a comment today in defense of this special area threatened by logging.
Please use our "comment writing guide" below (also downloadable here) to submit your comment!
Ways to Submit a Comment to the Forest Service by October 23rd:
Instructions for submitting:
Please include your name and address (phone optional) and submit via:
White Mountain National Forest Online Portal (recommended):
Jim Innes, District Ranger
USDA Forest Service Saco Ranger District
33 Kancamagus Highway
Conway, NH 03818
White Mountain National Forest Resources:
To view or download project documents, visit:
Tips for writing comment letters:
The “talking points” below are provided to help you draft your comment letter to the White Mountain National Forest. The most important thing you can do is make your letter unique and personal, and to share why this landscape matters to you just as it is. You do not need to touch on all of the issues highlighted in the guide below; we hope you will incorporate those concerns that resonate most with you. If you do not feel comfortable writing about the deficiencies of the Forest Service’s Environmental Assessment, please simply write a letter that shares your opinions about the project or your connection to the Sandwich Range and the areas proposed for logging.
No Reasonable Alternatives Offered
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), federal agencies are required to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a major federal action. NEPA also requires that federal agencies consider a “reasonable range” of alternatives. What is a reasonable range? The White Mountain National Forest presents the Sandwich Vegetation Management Project as an all or nothing proposition: We can either log 650 acres; OR we can do nothing at all. This approach is neither reasonable nor legal. At the very least, the White Mountain National Forest should provide a detailed No Action Alternative that investigates the benefits of leaving the forest as it is.
Scenic Values on the Chopping Block
People have traveled to the villages at the foot of the southern Sandwich Range for over 125 years to enjoy its spectacular setting and access to the outdoors. Local communities as well as visitors from distant cities come to the Sandwich Range for vistas of sky-scraping summits and unbroken forests, and the opportunity to reconnect with wild nature. Hundreds of acres of proposed logging will occur along major trail corridors accessing the Sandwich Range Wilderness and Mt Chocorua Scenic Area, and will be visible from the village of Wonalancet, from high points such as Mt Chocorua and Mt Israel, and from summits and rocky outcrops inside of the Sandwich Range Wilderness.
Forest Carbon and Climate Change
After near-total forest clearing during the 1800s, the forests at the foot of the Sandwich Range have regrown and matured, and many have been unlogged since agricultural abandonment. These healthy, mature forests store vast amounts of carbon, and they will recover the characteristics of an old-growth forest if allowed to grow older. Recent studies show that unlogged forests in the Northeast will continue to accumulate and store far more carbon than is contained in logged forests or in wood products. Logging and burning these carbon-dense forests would immediately release significant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, worsening the climate crisis. President Biden issued an Executive Order in 2022 directing the Forest Service to conserve mature forests just like those targeted for logging in the Sandwich Vegetation Management Project. Instead of racing headlong to cut these climate-critical forests, the Forest Service should allow them to grow old.
Endangered Species and Water Quality
The US Forest Service uses euphemisms like “forest restoration,” “habitat improvement,” and “even-age management” to excuse outdated commercial logging practices that degrade forest health, jeopardize water quality, and endanger biodiversity. Logging, road construction, skid trails, and the likely use of herbicides all serve to degrade and fragment habitat for rare and imperiled species that prefer old and interior forests, and risk harming downstream communities. The Northern Long-eared Bat is a federally-endangered species that prefers older forests and is assumed to be within the project area. Yet the White Mountain National Forest does not intend to survey for the bats before logging, and is planning to log forests when bats would be most vulnerable (i.e. when they are not hibernating in caves during the winter). In addition to their impacts on habitat, logging threatens to introduce invasive species, worsen local water quality, and heighten the risk of flooding.
Forest Plan Out of Date
The White Mountain National Forest last revised its management plan in 2005, and climate change was given scant attention at the time. The scientific consensus on the threat of climate change and its impacts has increased exponentially in the years since. Forest Plans are required by law to be revised after 15 years. How can the public trust a Forest Plan that was developed without regard to climate change?