(WKBN) – The USDA Forest Service wants to change the name of Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio.
The new name would be Buckeye National Forest. The effort comes in response to requests from American Indian Tribes and local community members, according to the Forest Service.
Senator JD Vance, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Randy Moore, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, opposing the name change.
Vance said the name change “denigrates Ohio history and represents a lack of fidelity to our nation’s founding generation.”
General Anthony Wayne was a founding father of Ohio, Vance said. He said Ohio would not exist had it not been for Wayne and his service to the state.
“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 wrote.
The Forest Service says that Wayne has a “complicated history” and includes leading a violent campaign against the Indigenous peoples of Ohio that resulted in their removal from their homelands.
Ohio residents have an opportunity to offer their opinions on the name change. A 15-day public engagement period which began Aug. 21 allows 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The Forest Service will review public input and make a recommendation to the Secretary of Agriculture, who has the authority to change the name.