Initiative launched to limit timbering on state lands
A growing list of nature organizations have signed on to an initiative aimed at convincing the Ohio Division of Forestry to designate certain areas worthy of special consideration in regards to forestry policies and off-limits timbering.
The Hocking Hills Tourism Association in southeast Ohio is the latest organization to join the movement, according to a recent report in the Logan Daily News. The others include Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Flora-Quest, Mohican Advocates Inc., Ohio Ornithological Society, Ohio Environmental Council, and the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy.
The basic issue, as the organizations see it, is that fast disappearing old-growth forestlands need to be conserved, not marked for the chainsaw. A specific issue, among many others, was a plan for this year to log an area called Spruce Run Ravines in the Hocking Hills region; the plan has been tabled pending further review.
“For us as tourism, our biggest concern is when there is clear cutting right along a scenic byway,” Karen Raymore executive director of the HHTA, told the paper. “It’s not real scenic anymore.”
Mark Bailey, owner of Studio in the Woods Accommodations, added that a change has occurred in the last 15 years in the way the Division of Forestry manages its forests. “They’ve sort of escalated their cutting, and they’re going into areas that were previously uncut, and it’s bad for tourism.
“We need these (state forest) areas because the parks are overwhelmed,” he added. He also contended that logging equipment hauled to a new part of the forest brings with it the likelihood of invasive species.
Jack Shaner, deputy director of the OEC, laid out the broad view of the initiative:
“Forests are essential. They purify our air and water, keeping our communities healthy and clean. Forests are special. They’re the quiet sanctuaries that put things in perspective, and bring us back to earth.
“Our state was once covered almost entirely by forests. A mere 30 percent of what we had remains. And even that tiny amount of forest land is in danger because of policies that favor timber over trees…Forests don’t recover overnight.”
Currently the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the forestry division’s parent, and Governor John Kasich are re-considering the costs of timbering to the economy and ecology of our state forests, “especially now that we can get their attention,” said Cheryl Harner at OOS.
Harner also adds, pointedly: “If Ohio spent a fifth as much on our Division of Forestry as we plan to spend on the dam (reconstruction) at Buckeye Lake, our foresters would be funded for years of educating Ohioans and managing forest invasives. Instead, they are expected to produce timber products to pay for their salaries.”
The OEC's proposed plan of action includes steps such as discontinuing forest harvest along all state, county, and township roads that would occur within visual view from all given roads; discontinuing forest harvest in all preserves and parks, private or public; evaluating a plan to protect forested lands adjacent to preserves and parks for the purpose of expanding the protected forest and natural lands; and many others.