Environmentalists concerned about logging impact on Tennessee state forests’ health

Staff photo by Ben Benton / Tennessee Heartwood and Sierra Club member Davis Mounger stands amid what remains from logging in recent years in Bledsoe State Forest on June 29, 2020. Mounger, holding a binder filled with state timber sale maps, said environmentalists are concerned about timbering going on in Bledsoe and other state forests that they say leads to single-species stands of undesirable plants and trees that crowd out more desirable species like oak and hickory.

By Ben Benton

PIKEVILLE, Tenn. — A trip through Bledsoe or Prentice Cooper state forest might first give the impression of a lush, dense forest of native species, but a local conservation group says a closer look at logging sites reveals a lack of biodiversity that could be helped by better state management of timbering in Tennessee’s public forests.

Local environmentalist Davis Mounger, co-director of Tennessee Heartwood and a Sierra Club member, said logging activities under agreements with the Division of Forestry in some 15 state forests are leaving the land to scrub growth that limits recovery, biodiversity and results in growth of lower-value timber and fewer native hardwoods.