NELSONVILLE -- The United States Department of Agriculture is investing approximately $1.3 million this year to help improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems in Ohio. The funding will benefit public and private landowners in seventeen southeast Ohio counties.
The U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are pledging their support to Oak Management in the Ohio Appalachian Mountains.
On public lands, this project will fund the control of invasive plants like Ailanthus (tree of heaven) that directly compete with native forest trees, as well as treatments that will improve conditions in forest stands with high potential for oak regeneration.
Prescribed burning will also be conducted to help young oak and hickory trees thrive and grow.
On private lands, funds for the USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program, a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forestry producers, will be available to manage oak on private lands that have a Forest Stewardship plan in place.
Treatments will focus on the control of invasive plants and competing native hardwoods to promote oak regeneration.
NRCS administers EQIP with the ODNR Division of Forestry providing technical assistance to interested private woodland owners. Assistance from USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will help address a growing population of feral swine across both private and public lands.
"By leveraging the technical and financial resources of State and Federal agencies in Ohio, as well as a diverse group of partners, this coordinated effort is helping to restore lands across large landscapes that include both public and private landowners," said Forest Supervisor Anthony Scardina.
Terry Cosby, Ohio's NRCS State Conservationist said, "People may be surprised to learn that 73 percent of the land within the Wayne National Forest proclamation boundary is privately owned and interspersed within the Forest boundaries. This clearly demonstrates the need to work with private landowners within the Forest if we want to significantly impact overall forest health, which is the goal of this project."
"We are pleased to work with the many partners involved with this effort to improve forest management and wildlife habitat in the Appalachian areas of Ohio," said Robert Boyles, ODNR Deputy Director, State Forester and Chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. "Ohio's Forest Action Plan provides evidence that oak-hickory forests are declining, and this is a trend that we are committed to reversing due to the unique qualities of oak forests for timber, wildlife habitat and other woodland benefits."
Nationally, in support of the agencies' Chiefs' Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership, nearly $10 million this year is being invested in 15 projects across the nation to help mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality and supply and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
Funding for this initiative was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life.
For more information, visit the website www.fs.usda.gov/wayne or follow the Wayne National Forest on Twitter: @waynenationalfs and also on Facebook.
The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
The Forest Service's Eastern Region includes twenty states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.
The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone.
Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.
Visit www.fs.usda.gov/ for additional information