Viewpoint: The Foothills Landscape Project is about conserving National Forest Lands for the future

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By Betty Jewett, Guest Opinion

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Jewett
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You may have recently heard about a U.S. Forest Service proposal to improve and enhance a large portion of the Chattahoochee National Forest that we call the Foothills Landscape. People care deeply about our public lands. We share your passion about the future of the forest, so much so that we have dedicated our careers to public service and caring for these lands.

Your energy around this project is heartening to us. But we are also well aware of the concerns and anxiety many of you have expressed, fed by confusion and inaccurate information about this project. From the feedback we’ve received lately, it is apparent that some only know the “talking points” that some people and some groups have put together based on their own agendas. I’ve seen social media posts discouraging followers from reading about the project for themselves because it’s “too long” or “too complicated.” These posts and emails often don’t share a link to the actual project, but rather a bunch of exaggeration and sometimes blatant falsehoods. This disrespects you, and it disrespects the science behind this project.

We may not always agree on how best to manage your national forest, and I accept and understand that, but we should not stoop to the tactics that have created such divide in our country and in our communities. Public lands bring us together. They belong to us all. We must work together to follow the best science and our highest values to achieve the greatest good for the longest time. That is my commitment to you. And that’s what this project is about.

So please, allow me to do a bit of factchecking here. 

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