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Ranger proposes habitat upgrade

Wayne National Forest Ironton District Ranger Gloria Chrismer is looking to improve several lakes in her district.

Chrismer is proposing a project to improve the fish habitat in Timber Ridge Lake, Smith Hollow Lake, Tecumseh (Lewis) Lake and several strip pit ponds near Hanging Rock.

The proposed project would add discarded Christmas trees to the deeper parts of the lakes to create a woody habitat for the fish. Common trees, such as sycamore, silver maple and pines, would be cut along the shore for animals to build nests or dens.

“The reason is that fish use the cover to hide from predators and for breeding habitat,” said Kari Kirschbaum, the wildlife biologist for the Ironton Ranger District. “It will increase fish productivity in the lakes and provide additional habitat.”

The project would include improving the nesting habitats for Ospreys. The birds make their nests in dead trees, so a few trees would be “girdled.”

“Girdling is removing a foot-wide piece of bark from around the tree,” Kirschbaum said. “It kills the tree but leaves it standing for the Ospreys to nest in.”

The species of birds have been spotted around Timber Ridge Lake and Lake Vesuvius during the spring and summer but so far, no nests have been found. Less than 10 trees at each of those two lakes would be used for that purpose.

People haven’t been left out of the equation. The project would include making the lakes more accessible to fishing enthusiasts by shaping and gravelling existing roads and trails that have eroded or become rutted along the Hanging Rock ponds.

Sterile grass carp would be added to those lakes to cut down on the grass that grows in the ponds.

“There are too many weeds around the perimeter and that can inhibit fish production and it also makes fishing difficult,” Kirschbaum said. “It will make fishing much easier.”

Chrismer is seeking public comment on the project. In a letter to the public, she wrote that people can help in the planning process by sharing any concerns or information they have about the proposal. Public comments will be used to identify issues and to possibly develop alternatives to the proposal.

All comments should include the project title “Ironton District Fish and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project” as well as the writer’s name, address and phone number.

Written comments can be faxed to (740) 534-6565, mailed to Wayne National Forest, 6518 State Route 93, Pedro, OH, 45659 or e-mailed to comments-eastern-wayne-ironton@fs.fed.us.