No extension sought on prescribed burning permits
Forestry officials have withdrawn a request for an extension on permits for prescribed burns in Shawnee State Forest.
Michael Bowden, fire supervisor for Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, had requested the extensions in an April 21 letter to Cindy Charles, director of Portsmouth Local Air Agency.
On Tuesday, however, Bowden wrote Charles to say, " ... please disregard my letter of April 21, 2008, in which I requested extension of burning permit numbers 07-26, 07-27, 07-28, 07-29 and 07-30."
The permits were issued to the department on Nov. 5, 2007. They authorized open burning in Shawnee State Forest between Nov. 24 and April 30 of this year.
An environmental group that regularly opposes prescribed burning had feared a permit extension might see the forest managers plan on burning at times other than fall and spring.
A burn during late spring or summer months would bring a chance for the fires to get out of control and also threaten the well-being of animals that have come out of their nests, Cheryl Carpenter, founder of Voices For the Forest, said Friday.
At that time, though, Bowden said the division's time for burning always was during the dormant seasons of spring and fall.
He said the reason he applied for the extensions was because the current ones were about to expire.
Carpenter said her group plans on filing a "verified complaint" with the local air quality agency "on the fact that the last burn got out of the permit area."
The division's last controlled burn, April 8, reportedly covered 193 acres in Shawnee.
"That fire was much more intense than they planned, and there were four spot burns that got out of control," she said.
She said it was "highly unusual" forestry officials would want to burn in the summertime.
"I think they were going to be denied and had been told that they were going to be denied, and that is why they withdrew the request."
"I would like to think that the withdrawal is because Voices, acting as a watch guard, has had some effect (on their plans)" Carpenter said. "I think they are starting to think things over. Wayne National Forest officials did not burn in April, and Shawnee should not have been burned either."
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.