Presented Feb. 12, 2020
” I want to thank the DNR Division of Forestry for being able to deliver this 513-word commentary on opportunities for a Forest Action Plan.
Ohio’s multiple use State Forests need opportunities to improve wildlife habitat, recreational use, timber stand improvement, soil and water protection and carbon capture. I understand the Division of Forestry State Forest budget (725602) decreased from $9.7 million for FY 2018 to $8.0 million for FY 2019, continuing the decline over the last few years. A declining State Forest budget does not bode well for our State Forests! If the invasive species in our State Forests are like anything found on my family’s 93 acres in Guernsey County, a significant effort will be needed to improve our forests if not regularly maintained! A larger budget would make possible improvements in all of the above mentioned multiple use areas.

I also understand Ohio has 21 state forests covering nearly 200,000 acres, some of which are covering what once were strip mines and depleted and eroded landscapes. Ohio State Forests vary in size from nearly 64,000 acres to less than 500 acres and are located in 21 Ohio counties. In comparison, The Wayne National Forest has 244,265 acres in federal ownership in SE Ohio purchased mostly during the Depression on land that also was mostly depleted and eroded. The Muskingum Water Conservancy District covers more than 8,000 square miles that drains into the Muskingum River and manages approximately 24,000 acres of hardwood forests and 6,000 acres of pine forests in 2018. I pay taxes to support all three public agencies!

When I looked at all the capital improvements the MWCD is doing, I wondered how they could do this. Looking at their annual reports of operation, I see they have the last few years realized over $200 million of income from oil and gas leasing, royalty income, right of ways and frack water sales. What has been the impact of these operations on MWCD properties? Considering the District has hired environmental personnel, because of the increased income where they couldn’t before, to monitor the water and air quality, I can find no reported negative impacts.

What does the WNF do regarding oil and gas leasing as part of their multiple use mandate? Their most recent oil and gas lease sale on the Marietta Unit in Monroe County netted over $2300 per acre in lease bonuses.

The State of Ohio has missed an opportunity realized by the MWCD and WNF. There are fracked horizontal wells under the Fernwood State Forest because the State of Ohio does not own the mineral rights. There are legacy and horizontal fracked wells on MWCD and WNF property. I can find no reference to any environmental impact from these activities.

If our State Forests are to be maintained to provide for multiple uses in an environmentally sound manner, no occupancy oil and gas leasing and development should be provided for the Forest Action Plan.

Thank you for allowing these comments.”