WNF proposes name change

Published 3:09 pm Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Cites request from Indigenous groups

NELSONVILLE — The USDA Forest Service is proposing to change the name of the Wayne National Forest to the Buckeye National Forest. The effort comes in response to requests from American Indian Tribes and local community members.

The buckeye is both the State Tree of Ohio and the most prevalent nickname for Ohio. The agency said the national forest is currently named after General Anthony Wayne, “whose complicated legacy includes leading a violent campaign against the Indigenous peoples of Ohio that resulted in their removal from their homelands.”

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“The current forest name is offensive because of this history of violence,” a news release from WNF said. “Buckeye National Forest is one of the names suggested to the Forest Service by American Indian Tribes.”

Other proposed names considered include “Ohio National Forest” and “Koteewa National Forest.”

“Our intention is to listen to Tribal Nations and community members, and take the actions needed to better serve them,” said Forest Supervisor Lee Stewart. “The new name embraces the forest’s identity as Ohio’s only national forest and the welcoming, inclusive nature of the people of Ohio.”

The Agency is seeking local perspectives on the proposed name as it reflects the historical importance of the national forest to Ohio. 

A 15-day public engagement period, beginning on Aug. 21, will allow interested members of the public to share their thoughts. Feedback should indicate whether there are any reasons the proposed name would be unacceptable. 

Comments may be submitted to r9_wayne_website@usda.gov. The Forest Service will review public input and make a recommendation to the Secretary of Agriculture, who has the authority to change the name.