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OEC Challenges Sunny Oaks Clearcutting Project in Ohio’s Only National Forest

Columbus, OH — On Thursday, Sept. 9, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) filed a lawsuit, Ohio Environmental Council v. U.S. Forest Service, in federal district court (Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division) to stop the implementation of the Sunny Oaks clearcut logging project. Sunny Oaks is a U.S. Forest Service project authorizing the clearcut logging of 2,485 acres of the Wayne National Forest. The project also authorizes several miles of road construction and hundreds of miles of bulldozer line development through the Wayne National Forest. The project is located in the Wayne’s Ironton Unit, primarily in Gallia and Lawrence Counties in Southeast Ohio.

In 2017, the Wayne National Forest was assigned a timber target (quota) that was more than 422% of the Wayne’s preceding 21-year average of annual quotas. The U.S. Forest Service introduced the Sunny Oaks Project for initial public comment on April 1, 2018. This summer, the U.S. Forest Service announced an August 25, 2021 bid opening for its first public timber sale under the Sunny Oaks Project.

You can access the OEC complaint here.

The following statement can be attributed, in full or in part, to Nathan Johnson, Attorney and Public Lands Director for the Ohio Environmental Council: 

“We challenge the Sunny Oaks Project because its large clearcuts threaten the health of Ohio’s only national forest. Ohio’s oak forests are natural treasures for wildlife and for people. Clearcutting these forests, especially at the wrong time or under the wrong conditions, serves only to destroy or diminish them.

“Every tree and every acre in the Sunny Oaks Project is owned by the public. We know, now more than ever, that protecting our public lands is a matter of public health. The Sunny Oaks Project seeks to cut many oak trees capable of standing for 600 or more years. Our hope is that current generations and many future generations will get the chance to enjoy them.

“The Sunny Oaks Project claims it will benefit oak forests and promote forest health, but it will do exactly the opposite. Clearcutting these oak forests now will ensure their invasion by harmful invasive species and their replacement by far less important and less valuable forest-types. If Sunny Oaks moves forward, expanses of this public forest will never be the same.

“The Sunny Oaks Project ignores science, citizen comments, and conditions on the ground. It violates federal laws designed to safeguard the environment, involve the public, and ensure rational and well-informed government decision-making. The Ohio Environmental Council believes that healthy, awe-inspiring public forests are worth fighting for and we intend to stop the Sunny Oaks Project from moving forward.”

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Questions? Contact ebacha<at>theoec.org

About the Ohio Environmental Council: The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is the state’s most comprehensive and effective environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. The OEC develops and ensures the implementation of forward-thinking, science-based, pragmatic solutions to secure healthy air, land, and water for all who call Ohio home. Learn more at theoec.org