Timeline changes for input on revision to forest plan

From staff reports

The timeline for releasing changes to the Wayne National Forest revision plan has been shifted to ensure the Wayne National Forest plan revision team can provide a quality product for the public’s review and to clear up any confusion.

On its website, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service offered the following clarification:

“It has come to our attention that the request for public information by Aug. 30, 2018, for the Forest Plan assessment has caused some confusion. This date was not meant to be the close of any official comment period on the assessment, but rather a date for encouraging the public to get information to us to help our Forest Plan Revision Team with the development of the Draft Assessment. We apologize for any confusion and are committed to a transparent and open Forest Plan Revision process. Thank you for understanding.”

Wayne National Forest is currently in the process of revising its 2006 Forest Plan, a document that provides overall management direction and guidance for the Wayne National Forest. The process happens every 10 to 15 years and they will continue to seek public comment through the process, expected to be finalized by Spring 2021.

“It has been several months since we held our initial public meetings to outline our plan revision process. This update is to ensure (the public) that we are still in the early stages of the process and there will be ample time and opportunity for public participation,” said Forest Supervisor Tony Scardina, in a release. “Although there are official periods identified for public comment, I want to reiterate the public is welcomed to contact us any time if they have questions or comments, or have information, data or research that will help us in the development of the assessment.”

The last public meeting was held in April at Marietta College and topics discussed included water and watersheds, climate change, wildlife and at-risk species and social and economic considerations.

One local group is staying on top of the situation by encouraging concerned citizens to make comments and ask questions of the U.S. Forest Service. Keep Wayne Wild was formed in 2017 in reaction to concerns about recent leasing for hydraulic fracturing in the forest, Ohio’s only national forest. The group has stated that the forest impacts the Ohio River watershed and potentially impacts the entire region.

“In a perfect world, we would like to see the land not be drilled at all, but preserved,” said volunteer Rebecca Phillips of Marietta. “Appalachia is a very old, very biodiverse region and we don’t want to see that threatened.”

Recently, Keep Wayne Wild hosted a screening of the documentary“A Forest Returns: The Success Story of Ohio’s Only National Forest” at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta. Phillips said a handful of people attended and there are 100 members of an email list that keeps volunteers up-to-date on progress and activism.

“I appreciate that the forest service is encouraging so much public participation and it’s not difficult to access the information,” Phillips said.

On the first Wednesday of each month, the Forest Plan Revision Team holds two identical conference call and webinar updates at noon and 7 p.m. To join these calls, dial 888-844-9904 and enter the access code 296-1260#. Visit the Forest Plan revision webpage, fs.usda.gov/main/wayne/landmanagement/planning, for a link to the webinar. The public can also submit comments, sign up for email alerts, find information on public meetings, and contact the revision team. Questions and comments can submitted to the Forest Plan Revision Team email at WaynePlanRevision@fs.fed.us. Comments can also be submitted in writing to: Wayne National Forest Revision Team, 13700 US Hwy 33, Nelsonville, OH 45764. The team can be contacted by calling Team Leader Lori Swiderski at 740-753-0859.

Make comments

¯ On the first Wednesday of each month, the Forest Plan Revision Team holds two identical conference call and webinar updates at noon and 7 p.m. To join these calls, dial 888-844-9904 and enter the access code 296-1260#. Visit fs.usda.gov/main/wayne/landmanagement/planning for a link to the webinar.

¯ Also from the webpage, you can submit comments, sign up for email alerts, find information on public meetings and contact the revision team.

¯ Email: WaynePlanRevision@fs.fed.us

¯ Phone: 740-753-0859

¯ Mail: Wayne National Forest Supervisor’s Office, c/o Forest Plan Revision Team, 13700 US Highway 33, Nelsonville, OH 45764

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