The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday December 3rd

Plans to clear cut P.H. Craig Forest in Carrboro divide community

Thirty-four acres of land are on track to be clear-cut in the P.H. Craig Forest, a tract of private land which borders Bolin Forest. The land is owned by P.H. Craig and is 77 acres in total.

Bethany Chaney, Carrboro Board of Aldermen member, said over the years, residents have used the property to run, bike and walk through the woods, and there are a number of trails that have been informally cut on the property. 

“People use his property pretty liberally, and (Craig) has been really gracious in allowing that kind of activity,” Chaney said. 

Craig said there are a number of reasons why clear-cutting parts of his property are necessary. In order to maintain the forest’s tax status as a tree farm, Craig is required to implement a forest management plan. After consulting with North Carolina foresters, he was advised to cut down the old pines on his property which have been unmanaged for over 90 years.

“They’re unhealthy, they’re a fire hazard and they’re susceptible to pine beetles,” Craig said.

Craig has no plans to develop the land but rather plant Loblolly Pines in the area, which was recommended to him by the forestry service. There is no exact time frame for when Craig will begin clear-cutting the property. 

“I’ve owned it for 50 years, I’ve never cut a tree, I’ve left it pristine, and so this is all new to me,” Craig said. 

A local nonprofit organization, Friends of Bolin Creek, has been trying to keep Craig from clear-cutting the portion of his land. The organization has arranged community meetings, a forum and a petition.

Craig said around June he began seeing signs in Carrboro that said ‘Save Bolin Forest’ in response to his plans for clear-cutting. He said he was confused with the movement because his property is not a part of Bolin Forest, and he’s not planning on clear-cutting his entire land.

The Daily Tar Heel reached out to The Friends of Bolin Creek for comment but did not receive a response.

Both Carrboro and Chapel Hill have been active in conversations with Craig in an effort to stop the clear-cutting of his property. 

“We don’t see a reason to have to clear-cut. We tried talking to him about selective cutting instead but the topography apparently is too challenging to reap any real financial benefits from cutting,” Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said. “At the end of the day it's Mr. Craig's property, and he's allowed to do with It as he pleases, except for the buffer along the creek that is preserved.”

Chaney said Carrboro has tried to connect parties and nonprofits with Craig to enable another organization to purchase the land, but Craig is not interested in selling. 

Ultimately, the town is not in a position to pressure him into a decision like that, Chaney said.

“There might be some people in the community who think Carrboro has been silent on the issue," Chaney said. "We’ve been doing everything that we can to understand what Mr. Craig’s interests are, express what our interests are and see if we can come up with some kind of win-win situation."

Hemminger said the community is generally upset about any sort of clear-cutting in the area, but Craig has been very generous by allowing people to walk and bike on his property.

“It's a valued resource and people have been writing Mr. Craig thank you notes and trying to let him know how much the community cherishes that he's been willing to preserve this property and let them use it and keep it in this good shape,” Hemminger said.


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