Get Your State Forest Comments In!  Fracking and Logging Planned!

Get Your State Forest Comments In! Fracking and Logging Planned!

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2013 ODNR proposes elimination of important habitat protections in 8,000-acre Shawnee Forest Backcountry Area;Feds plan to open entire Blue Rock State Forest to fracking Press Contact: Nathan Johnson, Staff Attorney for the Buckeye Forest Council: (614) 949-6622, Shawnee Backcountry Area Threatened: Reversing 14 years of management for habitat protection, the Ohio Division of Forestry (DOF) has announced plans to eliminate an 8,000 acre Backcountry Management Area (BCMA) in Shawnee State Forest in Scioto and Adams Counties. Conservation leaders believe the radical change in management will devalue the public’s investment and threaten rare and endangered species, including the timber rattlesnake. The Shawnee BCMA currently includes the following special protections not enjoyed by most of Ohio’s state forest lands: (1) Two existing roads in the BCMA are closed to vehicular traffic; (2) clear-cuts are limited to 25 acres maximum; (3) cuts can only occur on a 250-year rotation cycle; (4) management must be coordinated with the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves and the Division of Wildlife to help protect state listed species; and (6) future recreational developments must be “low impact.” DOF is proposing to dissolve all of these protections along with the BCMA designation, itself, in favor of a new “Intensive Management” zoning designation. “This is a big and unfortunate development that would shortchange both the public and some of the state’s most sensitive species,” said Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the Ohio-based Buckeye Forest Council. According to ODNR surveys, the Backcountry Area is home to numerous sensitive and state-designated threatened and endangered species, including the timber rattlesnake, the small whorled pogonia (flowering plant), the river redhorse (fish), the bobcat, and the eastern box turtle. Black bear may also be present in the BCMA. The area borders Ohio’s only state-designated wilderness area, the 8,000 acre Shawnee Wilderness Area. “How can state forest managers justify this wholesale reversal of protection? The state’s own surveys confirm this backcountry management area is a refuge for several threatened species. So much for public involvement and the ‘shelf life’ of a Division of Forestry management plan,” said Jack Shaner, Deputy Director and Senior Director of Legislative & Public Affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council. “DOF’s plan to dissolve the BCMA would open one of Ohio’s most ecologically sensitive areas to significantly more logging and road traffic and would remove protections for threatened and endangered species. Already, Ohio ranks a measly 47th in public land available per citizen. Our state has a desperate need for more wild, protected habitat – not less,” added Johnson. Rather than dissolve the BCMA, state conservation groups are calling on DOF to instead...

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