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Vance objects to proposed national forest name change

A U.S. senator from Ohio said Ohio wouldn’t exist without the efforts of the namesake of the Wayne National Forest.

U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore opposing the announced plan to rename the state’s only national forest as Buckeye National Forest.

The Forest Service announced plans on Aug. 21 to change the name, citing Gen. Anthony Wayne’s “complicated legacy (that) includes leading a violent campaign against the Indigenous peoples of Ohio that resulted in their removal from their homelands.”

In the letter, released this week, Vance said Wayne was a “Founding Father for both Ohio and the United States,” serving under Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary War. He was later enlisted by then-President Washington to address conflict in the Northwest Territory and defend residents from indigenous people trained by the British in raiding American settlements, the senator wrote.

“Wayne commanded his newly created Legion of the United States to several decisive victories over the British and their Indian allies of the Northwestern Confederacy, eventually reversing earlier American setbacks, expelling the British and signing the Treaty of Greeneville with the Confederacy,” he said in the letter. “This treaty ended the Northwest Indian War and established an official border between the U.S. and Confederacy, opening much of Ohio to American settlement and recognizing Indiana as Indian territory.”

Vance disagreed with the release’s description of Wayne’s actions.

“This was a war, fought by nations and peoples of equal dignity, concluded with an internationally recognized treaty,” he said. “Insofar as this treaty was later violated, such violations occurred long after Wayne’s death.”

The service is accepting comments on the name change, particularly reasons the proposed name would be unacceptable, via email at r9–wayne–website@usda.gov.

Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Deana Clark declined to comment on the debate over the name, but said she hoped any change didn’t set back the agency’s marketing efforts.

“We have the Wayne National Forest on everything,” she said. “I’ve been to four trade shows this year that are just for outdoor recreation only,” emphasizing the forest as an attraction.

Still, Clark said there could be a positive side to a change.

“Sometimes a new name can draw attention,” she said.

Source: The Marietta Times



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