As climate chaos becomes more apparent both globally and right here in Ohio, it is more important than ever that we take advantage of every opportunity to make our voices heard on forest policy.
On January 19th Wayne National Forest announced the opening of a 45 day public objection period for the Sunny Oaks Project. This proposed project would involve cutting mature trees, including white oak, and burning to promote "brushy forest" and "oak regeneration." These processes are bad for the climate and bad for sensitive species like the endangered Indiana bat and timber rattlesnake, both present in the area. Ohio has an abundance of clear areas where young forest can be established, but barely any old growth. If a healthy environment is the goal, this is simply not the way to achieve it.
You can find documents with more details about this project here. Instructions on filing an objection copied below:
This DDN/FONSI for the Sunny Oaks Project is subject to the objection process, pursuant to 36 CFR part 218, subparts A and B. Regulations for the objection process can be found in the Federal Register
Only those that submitted timely, specific written comments during the scoping period, the comment period, or other period designated by me for submission of comments are eligible to submit an objection, unless the objection is based on new information. Issues raised in an objection must be based on those previously submitted comments, unless based on new information that arose after designated comment periods. The 45-day objection period begins the day following the publication of a legal notice of the availability of the DDN/FONSI in The Ironton Tribune, Ironton, OH. The date the legal notice is published is the exclusive means for calculating the close of the objection period. Those wishing to object should not rely on timeframes or dates provided by any other source. If the 45th day falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the next business day marks the close of the objection period. Timeframes or due dates given from any other source should not be relied upon when determining when objections should be submitted.
The scoping period was April 1 – May 1, 2018, and included a landowner meeting on May 10, 2018.
The comment period was extended due to the partial government shutdown and occurred December 14th, 2018 – February 14th, 2019.
The legal notice announcing the availability of the DDN/FONSI will publish in The Ironton Tribune on or about January 19, 2020.
Objections must include:
Specific issues related to the proposed project;
How the objector believes the environmental analysis or draft decision specifically violates law, regulation or policy;
Suggested remedies that would resolve the objection;
Supporting reasons for the reviewing officer to consider;
A statement that demonstrates the connection between prior specific written comments on the particular proposed project or activity and the content of the objection, unless the objection concerns new information that arose after designated comment opportunities;
The objector’s name, address and telephone number;
Signature or other verification of authorship of the individual, entity or lead objector;
Identification of the lead objector, when multiple names are listed on an objection; and
Reference to the Sunny Oaks Project, the Ironton District of the Wayne National Forest and Responsible Official Ironton District Ranger Tim Slone. (36 CFR 218.8(d))
Incorporation of documents by reference is not allowed, except for all or any part of a Federal law or regulation, Forest Service directives and land management plans, documents referenced by the Forest Service in the project EA and comments previously provided to the Forest Service by the objector during public involvement.
Objections can be submitted in several forms, but must be postmarked (if mailed) or received by the Objections Reviewing Officer, Forest Supervisor Carrie Gilbert, within 45 days from the date of publication of the legal notice for the Draft DN/FONSI availability in The Ironton Tribune, Ironton, OH.
Objections may be mailed or hand-delivered to:
USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region Gaslight Building, Ste 700 ATTN: PAL/LSC Staff 626 East Wisconsin Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53202-4616
Emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Sunny Oaks Project
Faxed to: 414-944-3963 Attn: Objections Reviewing Officer, Forest Supervisor Carrie Gilbert; Wayne National Forest
Electronic objections must be submitted as part of an actual e-mail message, or as an attachment in Microsoft Word (.doc), rich text format (.rtf), or portable document format (.pdf) only. E-mails submitted to addresses other than the ones listed above or in formats other than those listed above or containing viruses will be rejected. It is the responsibility of the objector to confirm receipt of an objection submitted by electronic mail. For electronically mailed objections, the sender should normally receive an automated electronic acknowledgement from the agency as confirmation of receipt. If the sender does not receive an automated acknowledgement of receipt, it is the sender’s responsibility to ensure timely receipt by other means.
For mailed/shipped objections, objections must be post-marked or have a shipping date by the closing date of the objection period and must be received by the end of the fifth business day following the close of the objection period.
Normal business hours for hand-delivered appeals are Monday - Friday, 7:30-4:00 (Central Time). E-mailed objections must be submitted by 11:59 Central Time on the closing date of the objection period.
Just a few days later on January 24th, the long-awaited Draft Assessment for the Wayne National Forest Land Management Plan Revision was published, triggering a 45 day comment period. The plan will determine land use for the coming decade, so it is critical that the public stay engaged at every stage of the process. If we want a livable planet, Federal agencies must stop treating the forests we all depend on as a commodity. Fracking, coal mining, pipelines, and commercial logging, and burning do not belong in this plan.
You can view the Draft Assessment documents here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/wayne/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd695580 You can submit comments here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=53485 Wayne National Forest staff will hold some public meetings in the near future. When the dates and locations are announced they will be published here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/wayne/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd591610