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Associate chief visits Wayne forest

The U.S. Forest Service may have 30,000 employees and a budget of $4 billion to preside over, but Wednesday, the second-highest ranked official in the agency took time out of her schedule to visit Lawrence County.

Sally D. Collins, associate chief of the U.S. Forest Service, visited with officials at the Wayne National Forest in Ironton on Wednesday.

"I think it's the first time the chief or I have been out here in the past few years," Collins said. "And there's a lot going on here, and it's an area we don't get to very often, it seems that all the issues drive us to the west."

Many of the issues that the WNF deals with are common in national forests across the country, Collins said. One of her primary concerns is managing the land properly for recreation.

"I was looking at some of that facts they gave me on the Wayne, and how many people live within a couple hours distance of the forest," Collins said. "In a short period of time you can get a lot of people recreating here, so we've really got to be thinking ahead in the next century as to how we'll manage that use."

Wayne National Forest officials said they were thrilled by Collins' visit and hopeful they made a lasting impression.

"It's really kind of a rare opportunity to have someone that high visit your forest," Athens district ranger Dan Kincaid said.

"I hope that she remembers the Wayne, and she understands a little bit about what's going on in southeastern Ohio, and some of the activities we're involved in," Kincaid said.