My Forest Service experience informs approach to land planning

My Forest Service experience informs approach to land planning

While I have spent many years in the private sector, I am proud to have fashioned a parallel career with the U.S. Forest Service, serving as a landscape architect for Cherokee National Forest. My work with the Forest Service has focused on trail planning and design, and a variety of projects aimed at improving the visitor experience, including campground design, facilities improvements and wayfinding. I also have worked extensively on creating viewshed analyses for timber management plans. Done correctly, a viewshed analysis can have a profound impact on the final plan that guides timber harvesting in a national forest. These plans ensure scientifically based harvesting as well as the protection of the mature trees that safeguard the look and health not only of important and cherished ridgelines, but, ultimately, of the entire forest.

The U.S. Forest Service has an essential, and very difficult, mission. Originally founded in the 19th Century to ensure the timber supply needed to build a rapidly expanding and growing country, the Forest Service has evolved into a federal agency that must balance timber management, recreation and conservation. While that can be a delicate balancing act, I do believe it can be done — and done well. I am proud of the work that has been done in the Cherokee National Forest in recent years to preserve its special and unique ecosystem while enhancing the experience of recreationists visiting the forest.

Similarly, balancing conservation and development is a guiding principle for all of Fusco Land Planning’s work. I believe evaluating a property’s inherent environmental assets and topography should always be the first step in developing a comprehensive land use plan. Identifying and then conserving significant natural features, wetlands, and environmentally sensitive areas or habitats on the property is paramount to ensuring responsible, sustainable development.

Setting those areas aside as nature areas, parkland, or other common areas not only is environmentally responsible, it leads to better development, and homes and communities that live within their environment rather than dominate it. At Fusco Land Planning, we work with landowners to identify the home sites that will help them reach their goals while conserving the inherent value of the landscape and environment. The result is communities with properties that are more valuable over the long term while providing an overall experience that people invest in and want to be a part of for years to come.

For a good example of how all this comes together, check out my projects pages on Little Pisgah Mountain Conservation Easement. I would welcome the opportunity to hear from you about your ideas for your property.

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