Make your opinion known on Mohican timbering

Mohican Memorial State Forest in Ashland County. (Ohio DNR)

The North Central Ohio Land Conservancy and its legion of supporters are circulating a petition urging Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) to protect the 4,525-acre Mohican Memorial State Forest in Ashland County from timbering and to foster ecotourism there instead.

At issue is a long-term plan by the Ohio Division of Forestry to gradually thin-out Mohican’s pine plantations to supposedly encourage growth of hardwoods. The pines stands were planted in the 1930s by the federal Civilian Conservation Corps as a way to stop erosion and restore tracts of much-abused land. Over time they have become quite popular with the taxpaying public, if not state forest administrators.

A Memorial Forest Shrine in the forest is dedicated to the memory of more than 20,000 Ohio citizens killed in conflict since World War II.

“Make your voice heard, before it is too late,” urges the petition, encouraging individuals to print, sign, and mail prior to the Nov. 6 deadline.

“Every five years, the people who love Mohican Forest are compelled to campaign to protect our evergreen forest from the very people who are charged with its stewardship,” the petition reads. “The State of Ohio must recognize the driving force of Mohican’s economy is tourism. Timbering interferes with ecotourism’s ability to thrive.”

The Land Conservancy notes that people visit Mohican to hike, bike, and ride horseback under trees, not among tree stumps, and that ecotourism events often have filled the lodge at the adjacent 1,110-acre Mohican State Park Lodge.

“Pine forests create novel ecosystems in Ohio,” the Conservancy said. “These ecosystems provide habitat for breeding species of state threatened birds, bats, and flowers. Pine groves and hemlocks protect the watershed from erosion and condition the riparian corridor for gamefish and the state endangered Hellbender salamander.”

Only 4.2 percent of Ohio is public land, compared to Michigan, 28.1 percent and Pennsylvania, 16.1 percent, the petition said.

“We must not allow (The Division of) Forestry to compete with private landowners’ timber operations on the limited lands available for Public Recreation. This is short-sighted, past-century management.

“Ninety-five percent of Ohio’s timber products are produced on private land. The State of Ohio has no compelling need to timber our valuable forest lands. Timbering only reduces the value for tourism and recreation.”

The message from this coalition of conservations, naturalists and others is resoundingly compelling, not to mention abidingly sensible.

The state forestry administration is trying to make a case that it is returning Mohican to its native condition. But native to what, and when? It is a matter of how far back you turn the clock. What now is Ohio once was under the sea. Later, much of it was covered with a mile-thick ice sheet. And so on. In short, Forestry’s management rationale is arbitrary, based on the notion that forests are timber commodities, not recreational and heritage resources.

A copy of the NCOLC petition can be seen in full and downloaded by clicking here. Make yourself two copies, sign them, add a personal note, and mail them to Kasich and Obhof. The public owns Mohican, not whatever administration is in office.

Categories: Ohio – Steve Pollick

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