Deliver Benefits to the Public

Wayne National Forest hosts three events to celebrate Appalachian Ohio National Public Lands Day

Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Luke Johnson presented his new canine partner, a German shepherd named Kelly who began her career just three months ago. Forest Service photo by Gary C. Chancey.

OHIO — At the end of September, Wayne National Forest and its partners came together to support three separate events for Appalachian Ohio National Public Lands Day. The events were part of a coordinated regional effort to promote National Public Lands Day.

Area residents were invited to participate in three activities held on Wayne National Forest lands. One gave free horse rides to more than 30 children at the Kinderhook Trailhead near Newport; it was organized with help from the Washington County Chapter of the Ohio Horseman’s Council. The second allowed 20 volunteers to give back to their communities by cleaning up an illegal dumpsite near Nelsonville, Ohio; the forest partnered with Rural Action’s Zero Waste Program and Ohio University’s Community Engagement Programs within the Campus Involvement Center.

The third, and largest, event brought over 550 Lawrence County fourth- and fifth-graders to the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area near Ironton for “Visit Your National Forest Day.” The students rotated through 20 activity stations designed to teach environmental education, promote healthy outdoor lifestyles and inspire responsible land stewardship. Rural Action, AmeriCorps, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Live Healthy Appalachia, Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District, and Southern Wayne Advocacy Council (SWAC) all worked with the forest to make it possible. The day of outdoor fun and learning began with an official proclamation from Congressman Bill Johnson in recognition of the occasion. The proclamation was read aloud to the event coordinators by Acting District Ranger Destiny Chapman.

Jill McCleese of SWAC addressed the event coordinators, “It’s a wonderful time for us all to come together to celebrate Appalachian Ohio National Public Lands Day. The kids will be arriving shortly, and some of them have never visited a national forest before. But we’ve all worked hard to plan a great day for them, and soon this whole area will be filled with the sound of their laughter. They’ll remember this experience for the rest of their lives, and it will teach them the value of public lands. The hard work of the Wayne National Forest and all of its partners is paying off and setting a precedence across the nation.”

Forestry Technician Kaitlyn Yates from the Wayne National Forest escorts Smokey Bear as he is welcomed with hugs and high fives from fourth- and fifth-grade students. Forest Service photo by Gary C. Chancey.