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Funds available for brush clearing

IRONTON – Do you have unwanted brush on your wooded land and want to do something about it?

How about clearing it out and planting oak trees in its place?

Well, if a view of mighty oaks fits your green thumb like a glove then the Ohio Division of Forestry wants to help.

Backed with nearly $1 million in federal landowner assistance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is able to provide assistance funds and technical advice to woodland owners interested in controlling invasive species and brush on their property.

Twenty-two counties in central and southeastern Ohio, including Lawrence, Jackson and Scioto counties, are eligible for funding. Only property owners of five or more acres of wooded land are eligible.

“It just makes more sense to grow oak trees than weed species like tree of heaven and bush honeysuckle,” said David Lytle, state forester and chief of the Ohio Division of Forestry. “Thanks to a partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, nearly $1 million is available to landowners to remove these non-native species and to encourage healthier woods throughout central and southeastern Ohio.”

The forestry division says that invasive plants are estimated to cause billions of dollars in damage annually to the environment, forestry, agriculture, industry and recreation.

In 2009 alone, firefighters in Lawrence County have responded to nearly 100 brush fires, many of them caused fueled by overgrown weeds and honeysuckle.

As part of the program, Annemarie Smith, an invasive species forester based in Athens would be available to meet with property owners to assist with plant identification and ways to address an infestation of weedy invasive plants, including treatment and control recommendations and on how to qualify for funding.

Those interested should call (740) 589-9914 or email InvasiveSpeciesForester@dnr.state.oh.us.