PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Those oaks, maples, hickories, and poplars that dress the forests of Scioto County just might mean chemistry books, the works of William Shakespeare, or Excel software to the students at Portsmouth West High School.
A program aptly named “Trees to Textbooks” allows the Washington-Nile school district here to share in the proceeds of annual timber sales on state land. That meant the Washington-Nile system receives a check for nearly $124,000 this year.
Scioto County government, five townships, and the neighboring Northwestern school district all get a portion of the $404,896.80 awarded to entities in the county, which sits across from Kentucky in the center of Ohio’s southern border, where the Scioto River dumps into the Ohio.
Overall, 17 school districts in a dozen Ohio counties share in this year’s timber sale proceeds, which will put just under $1.5 million into the school systems, and township and county governments in a dozen counties.
The timber sale has been providing revenue for local governments and schools since 1983, and nearly $24.5 million has gone to these entities from the program. The money is doled out as a percentage of the revenue generated from state forest management programs in the specific districts where the activity took place, with 65 percent of the funds going back to the communities and 35 percent going to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.
Nate Jester of the ODNR said forestry experts from the state conduct surveys of the more than 200,000 acres of Ohio forests on state land and determine which areas will be logged as part of an overall plan to encourage the health and diversity of the woodlands. Considerations are also made for soil and water conservation, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities.
“The selected trees are marked for removal and then sold to timber purchasers and loggers on a competitive-bid basis,” he said. “These areas are then logged according to our specifications, and the activity is monitored from start to finish to make certain it is done in an environmentally sound manner.”
The trees logged from Ohio’s state forests will be used for hardwood lumber, pulpwood, and veneer. Following Scioto County with the next highest amount received from the proceeds of this year’s sale is Vinton County with $340,352.06 that is divided among its school district and six government entities. Vinton County schools received more than $170,000 this year.
State forestry chief Robert Boyles said the timber program assists the areas where the activity occurs on a number of levels.
“Sustainable conservation practices on Ohio’s state forests create a diverse landscape for wildlife, provide university research opportunities, and promote healthier forests,” Boyles said. “Local schools and communities benefit from not only the jobs and economic value generated, but from the many environmental and social benefits of a well-managed forest.”
Timber sales in Ohio’s state forests go on year-round, Jester said, but the actual logging operations are “very weather dependent. “The sites are closed if it is too wet,” he said.
FISH FILLET RULE CHANGE: The Ohio Wildlife Council recently amended its controversial fish fillet rule that had initially created an uproar and a lot of confusion by stating that it was illegal to transport or possess a fish “unless the fish is in the round or a complete fillet with skin attached,” until you reached your permanent residence.
The law was put in place early this year, but was later clarified to require just a patch of skin be left on the fillets, to allow game officers to identify the species of the fish.
The latest change has redefined the rules to require only that fillets must be kept whole until the angler reaches their permanent residence, or until “the fish are prepared for immediate consumption.” The requirement to keep skin on the fillets has been dropped.
The fish fillet rule came about over concerns that some anglers were engaging in overbagging, especially on Lake Erie, and disguising this violation by removing the skin and chunking the fillets, making it virtually impossible to determine if the possession limit had been violated.
The newly amended fish fillet rule does not apply in cases where the anglers have a receipt from a charter captain or a fish cleaning house, as long as the receipt details the date as well as the number and the species of fish.
The Ohio Wildlife Council also acted on rules for wild animal hunting preserves and commercial bird shooting preserves and added rules on the geographical limits on reservoirs and bag limits for selected fish species. A complete list of the rules can be viewed at the wildohio.com Web site.
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