Timber is cut from much of Shawnee Forest, and now, the conservation group, Save Our Shawnee Forest, is trying to save a special portion of the forest from being harvested.
“All of Shawnee State Forest is special,” Bill Tipton of SOSF said. “There’s all kinds of rare and endangered species throughout the forest, but there’s an area down near Buena Vista called Rock Run. The lower part of Rock Run Watershed already is in the preserve that belongs to the Arc of Appalachia. About the middle part of the Rock Run area, belongs to the Ohio Division of Forestry, but it has the classification of a High Conservation Value Forest, so that means there won’t be any logging taking place in that area.”
Tipton said all that is left is the upper watershed and in that watershed there is a section that the Division of Forestry wanted to put out for bid to harvest the timber, which SOSF does not believe is a good idea because whatever is done in the upper watershed is going to disturb everything downstream, so they are currently looking for something that is a rare and any endangered species in that area, so they can try to halt the harvesting of trees.
“We took our petitions to the Division of Forestry and they said – ‘we’re going to give you one year to go in, investigate and find what you can, and give us a reason why we should not timber in that area,’” Tipton said.
Their search for rare and endangered species, known as the Bio-Blitz will take place in that area.
“They timber in nearly all of Shawnee State Forest,” Tipton said. “The only places that they do no timbering at all is in these areas that have HCVF. That’s the only areas along with our wilderness area that they do not timber in. All the rest of the forest they do some types of timber harvest.”
We feel that would be so destructive to this special area of the forest. This is a very special area. Next to our wilderness area (8,000 acres), which they do not touch, the Rock Run area, is about 3,000 acres. It’s very remote. There’s no hiking trails. There’s no bridle trails, it’s a wilderness-like area.”
People concerned about the forest have started an effort to look for endangered species.
The following passage is from the Save Our Shawnee Forest website:
“Instead of hiking, we’re doing a lot of looking under rocks,” naturalist John Howard, who lives near the forest, said. “You never know what you’ll find. Anything is possible.”
There is a mission to the field trip: to gather evidence of threatened or endangered species in the upper portion of the forest’s Rock Run watershed. By documenting the area’s rare biodiversity, a group of environmentalists plans to build a case against logging proposed in the area.
“You’re talking about bringing in bulldozers,” Dave Ackerman, chairman of the Ohio Sierra Club’s forest and lands committee, said. “That’s a scar in the land that doesn’t heal.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.