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WNF seeks input on re-foresting

Sunny Oaks Project would encourage oak, hickory trees

The Wayne National Forest is looking for public input about a proposal to promote oak and hickory forests in the Ironton Ranger District.

Called “The Sunny Oaks Project,” the proposal is to harvest approximately 2,900 acres of forest east of State Route 93, west of State Rout 141, north of the community of Aid and south of the community of Oak Hill, through a mix of clearcut and shelterwood harvests.

“Our goal is to create a young brushy forest that provides valuable cover and food for a great variety of wildlife species, such as the blue-winged warbler, eastern box turtle, woodcock, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, black bear, eastern cottontail, red fox, timber rattlesnakes, and various pollinator species,” said Rachel Orwan, WNF’s environmental coordinator.

Clearcut and shelterwood harvests are designed to favor oak and hickory forest regeneration, especially when combined with other “timber stand improvement” treatments. Included in this proposal are prescribed fire, manual girdling/felling of competing trees, and herbicide treatment of competing trees. Prescribed fire would occur on 2,000-4,000 acres per year across the 25,000-acre project area. Natural re-growth could be supplemented with planted trees.

Under the proposal, plant species, such as Carolina thistle, wild pea, pale beardtongue, fern-leaf false foxglove, plain gentian, small white snakeroot, Sampson’s snakeroot, and white fringetree would also benefit.

WNF is accepting comments until Tuesday, May 1.

Public comments can be made to Rachel Orwan at Wayne National Forest, Ironton Ranger District, 6518 State Route 93, Pedro, Ohio.

It is requested that the commenter specifically state that they are in reference to the scoping period for The Sunny Oaks Project and comments should directly relate the proposed action to a resource impact. Include your name, current physical mailing address, phone number and signature or other verification of identity with your comments.

You may also call to discuss this project at (740) 753-0101, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. or submit comments electronically to: comments-eastern-wayne-ironton@fs.fed.us This scoping period provides for the first 30 days of the required 60 days’ notice. Following the scoping period an environmental analysis will be completed and made available to the public for a 30-day comment period.

If approved, a decision would likely be made in the fall of 2018, with timber harvests and timber stand improvement treatments to occur over the next 10-20 years.

This proposal includes timber harvest that would create a number of temporary clearings. Some of these would be greater than 40 acres in size.

The National Forest Management Act allows temporary clearings greater than 40 acres, provided that the public is given 60 days’ notice and the Regional Forester reviews the proposal. These larger harvests are proposed in order to respond to the need to create young brushy forests.