The Wayne National Forest, established in 1992, is located in the southeastern part of Ohio, in the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. It is the only national forest in Ohio.
The national forest is currently named after General Anthony Wayne an American soldier, officer, statesman, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
The Northwest Indian War came to an end when Wayne defeated Native American tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in northwest Ohio on August 20, 1794. It resulted in the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which saw tribes renounce their claims to the lands of modern-day Ohio and allowed for white settlement of the area.
Last week the U.S. Forest Service proposed to change the name of the Wayne National Forest to the Buckeye National Forest.
They claim that the national forest’s name is offensive due to the history of Wayne’s violence towards Ohio’s Indigenous people and that they want to rename it to promote the “inclusive nature of the people of Ohio.”
The agency said that the effort comes in response to requests from American Indian tribes and local community members. Other proposed names considered include “Ohio National Forest” and “Koteewa National Forest.”
Vance sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Randy Moore, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, opposing the proposed renaming of Wayne National Forest claiming that “This federal effort denigrates Ohio history and represents a lack of fidelity to our nation’s founding generation.”
According to Vance, Wayne heroically served the U.S. and the state of Ohio would not exist without him.
“Wayne heroically served our nation in a time when its continued existence was not a foregone conclusion. He fought wars and won peace for our government, the government you now serve, and hewed Ohio out of rugged wilderness and occupied enemy territory. Just as the United States would not exist without George Washington, Ohio would not exist without Anthony Wayne,” Vance said.
Vance continued by urging the U.S. Forest Service to reverse their misguided proposal to rename the Ohio forest.
“Unfortunately, I am left to conclude that the USDA possesses such a low opinion of Ohioans that you believe us incapable of appreciating the complexities of American history … I ask that you reverse this misguided decision to rename Wayne National Forest. It would greatly benefit Ohioans and all Americans if our government could be counted on to defend our Founding Fathers, instead of capitulating to politically motivated renaming efforts. Until such courage can be found, I humbly recommend that the federal government disband all renaming committees,” Vance said.
Ohio Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts-Hill) also spoke out in opposition to the proposal saying that it’s just another instance of the federal government overreaching in an effort to solve a nonexistent issue.
“As Ohio’s only national forest, Wayne National Forest has been a destination for all Ohioans and its visitors to enjoy nature and all that Southeast Ohio has to offer for nearly a century. This is just another example of federal government overreach trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” Stephens said.
Stephens urges the federal government to immediately reverse this effort by the “woke Biden administration to erase Major General Anthony Wayne, an integral part in the settling of Ohio.”
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star, The Star News Network, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Sen. JD Vance” by JD Vance and “Wayne National Forest” by Wayne National Forest.