The oak-dominated forests of southeastern Ohio are exceptionally valuable, both ecologically and economically. However, the complexity of ownership in this region, which is mostly private but includes multiple state forests and state wildlife areas, and Wayne National Forest, make it even more important to plan forest management across ownership boundaries and at the landscape-scale. An important element of the Focal Landscape Initiative is to support existing local programs that align with the Initaitive’s goals by building onto and adding capacity to successful partnerships whenever possible. In Southeast Ohio, AMJV’s focal landscape and the Ohio Interagency Forestry Team share a vision for supporting healthy and sustainable oak dominated ecosystems in the region.
The Ohio Interagency Forestry Team is comprised of the agencies in Ohio listed above that have a forest management mission area. The purpose of the Forestry Team is to improve internal agency coordination around the delivery of government services in support of forest management. The Forestry Team is focusing its efforts across the 17-county Oak Management Priority Forest Area, which overlaps the AMJV focal landscape and is where 43% of the state’s forest resource exists. Most members of the Forestry Team have a state-wide scope for services, but initial focus for team organization and capacity building is on southeast Ohio.
Hocking Plateau Shared Stewardship Project
The Ohio Interagency Forestry Team is developing a new approach for delivering services collectively within an actionable area called the Hocking Plateau Shared Stewardship Project. This area is in the central part of the Hocking Plateau and includes Hocking, Perry, Athens, Morgan, and Vinton counties. The approach for this project is to build on relationships already established and focus on deepening the quality of woodland owner engagement within the project area. Family woodland owners control the majority of the land base within the Oak Management Priority Forest Area, and will determine the future of oak on this landscape. The team is developing a place-based woodland owner outreach program focused on forest stewardship, selling timber, and legacy planning. Programming will utilize the Peers and Pros 360 method, an effective and engaging teaching method uses peer to peer interaction and mediated learning by natural resources professionals.
In tandem with building relationships with woodland owners, the project also seeks to deepen interagency relationships across public lands within the core of the project area through a cross-boundary Good Neighbor Agreement. This will support cross-boundary planning, implementation, and activity tracking. Good Neighbor Authority allows the USDA Forest Service to enter into agreements with state forestry agencies to do management work to keep forests healthy and productive. A new Good Neighbor Agreement between Wayne NationaI Forest and ODNR Division of Forestry allowed for implementation of cross-boundary prescribed fire to begin in 2022, burning 3,119 acres of public and private land. Under the agreement, additional prescribed fire and other intermediate silvicultural treatments are planned over the next five years.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife
ODNR Division of Forestry
USDA Forest Service (Wayne National Forest, Northern Research Station and State & Private Forestry)
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Ohio State University Extension
Central State University Extension