New scenery management plan for LBL comes under fire

It’s just one forest, but there are two very different opinions on what will keep people coming back to Land Between the Lakes. The U.S. Forest Service along with a landscape architect from New Mexico have put together a plan for scenery management they say will draw more tourists, but people with ties to the land say it’s a bad idea.

People who already think the forest service is implementing too many projects using logging, clearcutting, and controlled burns at LBL are skeptical. A forest ecologist out of Berea, Kentucky, said he thinks this new plan, which also includes leasing more land for farming, is the forest service’s way of justifying this heavy-handed approach to forest management. Jim Scheff with Kentucky Heartwood said, “The extraction of timber, the building of logging roads, all at the cost of the taxpayer… we think takes away from the needed work to maintain roads and trails and recreational experiences people genuinely want and come to LBL for.”

The scenery management system plan outlines visual goals for LBL. The debate now is over what people want to see.

Turning trees into logs and clearcutting parts of the forest are all activities already happening at Land Between the Lakes. “It’s just over-logged,” said Ronnie Mardis. His family has ties to the land. He said the forest service’s plan for scenery management opens the door for even more cutting and clearing. “Done in balance, it can be done in a right way. But that’s not what’s happening over here,” said Mardis.

Logging is a technique used at LBL to create open space areas that the scenic management system plan rates as more visually attractive than natural forests. Mardis said, “This ain’t scenery to look at. This isn’t pleasing to my eyes. It breaks my heart.”

Tina Tilley is the area supervisor at Land Between the Lakes. “I was really surprised by the angst that this caused,” she said. According to her, there has been a disconnect between what they’re trying to accomplish and what people like Mardis think the forest service is trying to do. She said, “Logging more may mean a tree here and a couple of trees there. It doesn’t mean even five, 10, or more acres.”

She said the plan is only a guide they can use to influence plans for better visuals at LBL. “I want to create peek a boo views where people can see the lake or a wildlife opening… that was the extent.” It’s a clarification she’s making about a plan Mardis said he has a hard time trusting.

The forest service is taking public comments about their scenery management system plan through the end of the month. Tilley encourages people to write in with their specific concerns based on the information in the plan.

Comments should be emailed to with “Scenery Management System Plan” included in the subject line of your email. Comments can also be postal mailed to:

Tina R. Tilley, Area Supervisor
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
100 Van Morgan Drive
Golden Pond, KY 42211

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