PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is seeking public input on the recently revised draft management plan for the Shawnee State Forest Wilderness Area. That draft updates the plan’s time period from 2013 through 2023.
“Recent changes to the wilderness area law require revisions be made to the management plan at Shawnee State Forest,” Robert Boyles, state forester and chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry, said. “The most notable change to the updated plan assures that it is consistent with the Ohio Revised Code, which now allows mechanized maintenance of the trail systems already established in the wilderness area.”
Boyles said the 8,000-acre Shawnee State Forest Wilderness Area, located in Scioto and Adams counties, was created by state law in 1988 with the intent of establishing an area in which past human influences go largely unnoticed, to allow for natural forest succession, and to provide an area with outstanding opportunities for solitude and recreational experiences.
The plan will be posted on the ODNR Division of Forestry’s website and will also be presented at the 2013 (Fiscal Year 2014) southern district open house. Boyles said public comments will be solicited throughout the review period and are accepted in writing, via e-mail and through conversation with ODNR Division of Forestry staff.
Part of the plan deals with possible wildfires, and reads, “Wildfires are a common occurrence every year in southern and southeastern Ohio. Division of Forestry statistics show that during the last 10 years, more than 1,000 fires burned over 12,000 acres in Scioto and Adams counties. Most of these fires are caused by either careless debris burning or arson. Fire danger is at its highest during the fall months of October and November and before green-up in March, April, and May.
“However, wildfires may occur at any time of the year, particularly during times of drought. In most wildfire situations, it is critical to contain the fire early in its development. This is even more essential during the next 10 years because of the heavy woody debris buildup that resulted from the 2003 ice storm. In order to accomplish these suppression goals, firefighters must attack the fire quickly and aggressively. Wildland fires occurring in the Wilderness Area will be suppressed using tactics normally available to firefighters.”
According to ODNR officials, public participation is important to that agency’s Division of Forestry and to the people of Ohio as stakeholders. To ensure citizen participation, the review process in 2013 will begin with a minimum 60-day review and comment period of the draft 2013-2023 plan. Comments will be reviewed and incorporated as appropriate into an updated draft plan.
The public will be given another 60-day review period to provide comments about this draft. Comments will be incorporated as appropriate, and a final 2013-2023 plan will be adopted after the second 60-day comment period.
The current plan and the proposed plan with comment periods can be found at ohiodnr.gov/forestry. Click on the link “2013-2023 Shawnee State Forest Wilderness Area Management Plan Being Reviewed.”
Comments regarding the proposed plan can be submitted by one of the following methods:
•E-mail comments to Nathan.Jester@dnr.state.oh.us
•Attend the scheduled open house on July 31 at 5 p.m. at the ODNR Division of Forestry’s southern district office at 345 Allen Avenue, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
•Mail comments to the ODNR Division of Forestry at the same address listed above
You can visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.