Frank Lewis and Wayne Allen
PDT Staff Writers
Southern Ohio Correctional Facility Warden Donald Morgan has spelled out the plans concerning the harvesting of trees from property adjacent to that facility.
“The total acreage that we’ve identified is 177 acres,” Morgan said.
He said 124 acres will be select cut and 50 acres clear cut.
“The facility (SOCF) itself only owns 1,630 acres,” Morgan said. “We have 69 acres that is within the fence. Two acres is the actual facility itself. Then I’ve got 600 acres that is farm land, the land that runs along (U.S.) 23. And then I’ve got 580 acres of pasture and hay fields. That’s all of the land that is on the north side of Cook Road and all of that down behind the sewage treatment plant. So once you do the math, you will find out there’s only 394 acres total that has timber standing on it.”
Morgan said not all of those 394 acres with timber are a good resource or accessible.
“I partnered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and they came in and did an analysis of our land and found out that some of it is very difficult to get to, and by the time you bid it out, there’s not going to be much of a profit for the General Revenue Fund,” Morgan said. “In fact, you’re going to spend so much time and energy in resources in getting into that timber. So they identified 177 acres that would be beneficial to harvesting.”
He said some sections are made up of smaller saplings, which would not be harvestable.
“In our timber plan we’ve identified specific size of trees and things like that because one thing I made clear to Ohio Department of Natural Resources was, when they went out and did a survey of our area, I wanted them to use the Abuse Shield Analysis,” Morgan said. “In other words, it has the least amount of impact on the harvesting, because we have a lot of beautiful hillsides around here and I understand that a lot of the community is concerned about the aftermath of harvesting. And we don’t want to take away from that. So when they went up and did the analysis, they identified areas where you could do select cutting where you would actually not see the footprint of the harvesting that had been done.”
Meanwhile, the Scioto County Commissioners have sent a letter to three entities asking for a public hearing before any timbering is done on that land.
“Judy Newman came in and asked us to send them a letter requesting a public meeting, that before they cut trees, they think that the people of Scioto County would have a right to a public hearing,” Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Mike Crabtree said. “We don’t have a problem with that. It’s really something that’s routinely done. We sent a letter just suggesting it to them. We can’t order the state to do anything. But we agreed that we would send a letter asking them to schedule a public hearing so people could voice their opinions on that before they get started.”
That letter was addressed to Gary C. Mohr, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Morgan and Robert L. Boyles, State Forester and Chief of the Ohio Department of Natural resources Division of Forestry.
The text of the letter reads, “We have received complaints and concerns from residents that reside in Valley Township regarding the proposed timbering on the SOCF property owned by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. We respectfully ask that a public meeting be held so that the residents may express their concerns prior to any contracts being approved.”
Both Newman and forest activist Cheryl Carpenter have been on the front lines of the battle to attempt to keep timbering to a minimum in that area.
“I spoke with Mrs. Carpenter, and I’ve also spoken with Judy Newman, and I’m glad that they’ve been calling me because I have been able to somewhat clear up some misconceptions that are out there within the public,” Morgan said.
Morgan said the proceeds from the timbering would go into the state’s General Fund, but there is a process in place in which the ODRC can apply for some of those funds.
The ODRC indicated they would notify the Daily Times before and bids were let.
“DRC is looking into harvesting timber on the land at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. We are currently in discussions with our community partners to work out the details of the plan. Once the details are finalized, we will release a solicitation in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources seeking bids for select cuts of timber. We are working with the necessary stakeholders to ensure compliance with all regulations involved with this plan.”
There is no word yet as to whether a public hearing will be scheduled before cutting is started.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT. Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or at email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneAllenPDT.