NELSONVILLE, Ohio (Aug. 21, 2023) — The USDA Forest Service is proposing to change the name of the Wayne National Forest to the Buckeye National Forest. The effort comes in response to requests from American Indian Tribes and local community members.
The buckeye is both the State Tree and the most prevalent nickname for Ohio. The national forest is currently named after General Anthony Wayne, whose complicated legacy includes leading a violent campaign against the Indigenous peoples of Ohio that resulted in their removal from their homelands. The current forest name is offensive because of this history of violence. Buckeye National Forest is one of the names suggested to the Forest Service by American Indian Tribes. Other proposed names considered included “Ohio National Forest” and “Koteewa National Forest.”
“Our intention is to listen to Tribal Nations and community members, and take the actions needed to better serve them,” said Forest Supervisor Lee Stewart. “The new name embraces the forest’s identity as Ohio’s only national forest and the welcoming, inclusive nature of the people of Ohio.”
The Agency is seeking local perspectives on the proposed name as it reflects the historical importance of the national forest to Ohio. A 15-day public engagement period beginning on August 21, 2023, will allow interested members of the public to share their thoughts. Feedback should indicate whether there are any reasons the proposed name would be unacceptable. Comments may be submitted to [email protected]. The Forest Service will review public input and make a recommendation to the Secretary of Agriculture, who has the authority to change the name.
The effort to change the forest name to Buckeye National Forest is based in respect and inclusion for all of Ohio’s communities and seeks to ensure the name of these federal lands is representative of all who value the national forest. It also follows multiple policy directives and is consistent with Agency efforts to advance equity and inclusion.