NELSONVILLE, Ohio-The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing approximately $769,000 this year to restore oak-hickory woodlands in southeastern Ohio.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources teamed up to create the Collaborative Oak Management Project. The project is in its second year under the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. The goal of the Partnership is to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet. The funding will benefit public and private landowners in 17 southeast Ohio counties.
On public lands, this project will continue to fund the control of invasive plants like Ailanthus altissima (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 (EQIP), 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.
The Collaborative Oak Management Project achieved the following outcomes in 2015:
* 27,016 acres of federal lands, 2,540 acres of private lands and 1,600 acres of state lands have been planned for or already treated to improve conditions for oak and hickory.
* 85 private landowners will be receiving EQIP funding and gaining experience in oak management.
* A new agreement is in place between USDA APHIS Wildlife Services to cooperate in the control of feral swine across southeastern Ohio. Swine elimination efforts removed 74 feral swine from lands adjacent to or within five miles of the Wayne National Forest.
* Cross-boundary mapping and treatment efforts to address the invasive tree Ailanthus altissima were continued.
* A shared project geodatabase was created to begin to integrate stand inventories and coordinate planned treatments across landownerships
* Two climate change adaptation workshops were conducted for oak management in southeastern Ohio.
* The first interagency landowner coordination workshop was held between the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wayne National Forest and Ohio Division of Forestry, to begin to align annual agency programs of work.
* Four state and federal seasonal field positions were created and additional project capacity added through a dedicated Outreach Coordinator through The Ohio State University Extension.
Nationally, 11 new Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects totaling $7 million for 2016 have been announced. USDA also committed additional investments totaling nearly $33 million in 27 projects launched in 2014 and 2015. Since its start, $104 million has been invested through USDA’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership to reduce wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water resources, and improve habitat for at risk species. Summaries of all projects selected can be found on the NRCS website.
For more information, visit our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/wayne. 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. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.