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Healthy Forests Initiative - Fact Sheet

Making A Difference
Wayne National Forest - Ohio

In February 2003, the Wayne National Forest in southeast Ohio suffered tremendous damage as a result of an ice storm. During the President’s Day storm, the Ironton District was covered by two inches of ice, which had a devastating impact on the forest, causing many trees to fall and branches to break. The storm area was declared a state and federal disaster.

An image displaying an example of extreme levels of debris, often six to seven feet in depth providing a highly increased level of hazardous fuel on the forest floor as a result of the storm. Various methods of reducing these hazardous fuel levels were used.

Immediately after the storm, the ranger district closed all developed recreation sites and roads maintained by the US Forest Service, and limited recreational activities so district personnel could safely remove downed trees and limbs.

The Wayne National Forest treated ice-damaged areas under the provisions of two recently implemented Categorical Exclusions (CE), a new procedure provided under NEPA as part of the President Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative. These CE’s allowed the Forest to expedite the treatment of the 550 acres of extreme fuel loading in those urban interface areas by reducing the layers of unnecessary red tape and procedural delay that normally prevent agency experts from acting quickly to protect communities and our natural resources from devastating wildfires.

Before any activities took place, Forest Service personnel surveyed sites for the two federally listed endangered plant species and flagged known heritage sites. A heritage monitor remained at the site during all work to inspect for evidence of additional heritage sites. Also, special precautions were taken to protect bat roosting trees.

Because of the large infestations of invasive, non-native species, the Forest retained native vegetation in and around project activities and minimized soil disturbance as much as possible. Disturbed soil was re-vegetated to optimize plant establishment and included topsoil replacement, planting, seeding, fertilization, liming, and weed-free mulching as needed. Native materials were used whenever feasible.

The Wayne is now studying the remaining damaged areas and looking at various alternative treatments so that both wildlife and vegetation benefit and a healthy, safe forest is maintained.

For more information on the Healthy Forests Restoration Act and the Healthy Forests Initiative, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/projects/hfi/ or http://www.doi.gov/hfi/newhfi/

US Forest Service
Last modified March 28, 2013

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