What follows is the tale of five young men in a dastardly struggle to understand the wildlands in some of Ohio’s most southernly regions. Bearing down on the stand off between native and non-native invasive, these men readily take action. Some would call them idealists, others call them Hero, one thing is clear: When history has passed and all that we know has come to fade away, the deep green hills of Wayne National Forest will stand eclipsed under the shadow of these giants among men. This is their story:
The weather is now very pleasant. The temperatures are beginning to drop and spirits have started to rise. We are extremely excited for fall and are tremendously grateful for the break in the record high temperatures. Some of the leaves have already begun to change color, and we are all very excited to witness the immense beauty of the forest in the autumn.
The Team has now become FIREMON experts! We are able to spot the common non-native invasive species from over 100 yards away. The much too common invasive species include Multiflora Rose, Japanese Stilt Grass, Japanese Honeysuckle, Tree of Heaven, and the Princess Tree. Wayne National Forest is very impressed with our work so far, and we have truly set the standard for all future FIREMON work in The Wayne. Now, quite familiar with the area and our work, we are no longer bogged down with logistics and learning the various aspects of our jobs, and the team is now able to cruise through plots with ease. It is our goal to increase our daily average from 2 plots per day, to 3 plots per day to allow time to take some immediate post-burn re-measurements and possibly monument a few new plots.
The Athens Team has finished their work in the Athens District and has begun to support us with our work in the Ironton District. We are exceptionally grateful for all of their help. Currently, with assistance from the Athens Team, we have been able to visit over 70 plots in the Ironton District and approximately 83 plots remain to be re-measured. See the attached map to view our completed plots.
The bulk of our work has been in the Pine Creek burn unit, which is now nearing completion. Next hitch we will be focusing our efforts in the recently burned area of Buckhorn. We are extremely excited to have Pine Creek behind us. The Pine Creek area has not yet been treated and as a result is extremely overgrown. The brambles and briers of Smilax, Rubus, and Multifora Rose can be extremely fierce in these unburned areas, making travel tremendously difficult. Now that we have almost finished with Pine Creek, the difficult work is now behind us and the remainder of the season should become increasingly pleasant.
Highlights this month included a screening of "The Forest Returns"  with Environmental Studies Outreach Coordinator at Ohio University and Sierra Club member, Lorraine McCosker. It was engaging to learn more about the history of the Wayne National Forest and the varying views regarding its management policies. We are very grateful to Lorraine for inviting us into her home, and we look forward to seeing her again in the near future.
All team members also enjoyed the live outdoor drama, "Tecumseh!"  in Chillicothe, Ohio. The show portrays the epic life story of the legendary Shawnee leader as he struggles to defend his sacred homelands in the Ohio country during the late 1700’s. The historic portrayal was certainly enhanced by the outdoor setting under a nearly full moon.
We are very grateful to WNF Public Affairs Officer, Gary Chancey, for taking the time to snap some great photos of the teams in action. See the photos below, courtesy of Gary and Wayne National Forest. Photos can also be viewed on Flickr: Wayne National Forest Recovery Act Projects  . Gary has also been in the process of interviewing members and editing a Podcast, which we hope will be released shortly. So stay tuned!
On our time off, we plot and scheme amongst ourselves to figure out where we want to go, if one of us knows someone that lives there, and what we can all do there for fun. So far the team has done North America’s tallest bungee jump in Ottawa, Canada; canoed in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario; relaxed at Virginia Beach, Virginia; traipsed around cities such as Toronto, Chicago, and Pittsburgh; climbed and hiked in the New River Gorge, West Virginia; and more. Upcoming trips might include the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia; visiting theme parks in Orlando, Florida; caving in Blacksburg, Virginia; and maybe even an international trip to finish up the season if we can find a cheap flight.
Click here to see our: Calendar of Events  . Soon is our Firefighter Pack Test, the final and arduous step in becoming a Wildlife Fire Fighter. Each of us must be able to carry a 45 pound pack, over three miles, in fewer than 45 minuets. Also coming up in September is the The 12th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival  … and of course more plots!
All photos below were taken by Photographer: Gary Chancey, Public Affairs Officer, Wayne National Forest. Thank you Gary!
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