- Associated Press - Sunday, January 8, 2017

WEST PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) - Experts plan to search for rare and endangered species this spring in Ohio’s Shawnee State Forest as they try to stop logging in the area, members of an environmental group said.

Save Our Shawnee Forest aims to study insects, birds and other creatures as part of a “bioblitz” in the upper portion of the forest’s Rock Run watershed to document why a proposed timber sale should be canceled.

The proposed sale of 84 acres of timber in the upper portion of the 1,300-acre watershed in southern Ohio was announced in 2015. A public outcry prompted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to halt the sale last summer to allow for a thorough analysis.

“We just had more and more stakeholder interest,” said Greg Guess, deputy chief of the state’s Division of Forestry told The Columbus Dispatch. “We had not done a detailed, acre-by-acre assessment on that part of the watershed. So we slowed things down.”

Forestry division officials say part of the agency’s mission involves harvesting timber from state forests, including from about 2,000 acres annually in Shawnee. But the agency also is responsible for preserving biodiversity, Guess said.

“It’s a complicated mission,” Guess said. “We’re expected to manage for everything. This is a balancing act.”

Save our Shawnee Forest spokesman Bill Tipton said Rock Run’s multilayered biodiversity and its location near the junction of the Scioto and Ohio rivers merit broad protection from logging.

“I grew up playing in these woods,” Tipton said. “That’s what upsets me- I know what these forests were like. We’re concerned our future generations will never see a natural forest.”

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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