County asks for lower trail fees

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, January 31, 2018

McCleese seeks nomination to advisory committee

A letter to try and reduce the ATV and horse trail fees in the Wayne National Forest will be sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue by the Lawrence County Commission.

“We, the Board of Lawrence County Commissioners, Lawrence County, Ohio, are requesting your urgent consideration to sign the Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) Charter. The RRAC needs to convene before the Wayne National Forest opening season of 2018, April 15,” the letter states. “Wayne National Forest Supervisor, Anthony Scardina, and staff has gathered data, completed comparison studies and public comment for preparation in proposing to lower and eliminate fees for recreational use to the RRAC.”

According to the letter, Scardina has implemented partnerships with local groups and individuals for volunteerism and grant monies to assist in the maintenance and building of trails. The fees that were implemented in 2008 are high when compared to surrounding trails, which has impacted the recreation and tourism to surrounding communities and small businesses.

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“The RRAC just was appointed last year after eight years of absence from the public access for the national forest to request to eliminate, raise or lower fees when they are to meet annually or more often if needed by law,” the letter states. “The years of absence of an RRAC to address this issue has greatly affected our opportunity for local and tourist users to utilize the forest for health and economic benefits.”

Another letter to be sent to Perdue by the commission was in regards support for Jill Romanello-McCleese to be nominated to the Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee in position of Summer Non-Motorized Recreation member.

“Mrs. McCleese has been an active volunteer in our community, supporting recreation and tourism, scenic trail building, forest beautification, litter control, research of National Forest federal policy procedures, and laws to improve communications between the Wayne National Forest (WNF) and the communities surrounding it,” the letter states. “She has a passion for the health and economic growth for the people, community and forest, and has been certified in the Trail Master building course to help coordinate and educate trail building and maintenance for volunteers.”

In addition, McCleese has sought to find balance in the communications and actions of the community and the WNF, as well as helping to form the Southern Wayne Advocacy Council (SWAC), in which she is a member of the executive committee.

SWAC is an organized collaborative volunteer non-profit group with the purpose to improve the communication, use and access of the WNF and other assets of the area, while maintaining culture, history and environmental integrity for all of its users.

“Mrs. McCleese shows a dedication to unity of the forest and the communities to find balance, and this attribute we feel would serve the Recreation Resource Advisory Committee in their decision making and processes,” the letter states. “We gladly recommend the nomination of Jill McCleese to the Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee.”