Could Ohio’s Wayne National Forest be renamed?

Wayne National Forest Leith Run Recreation Area
Wayne National Forest Leith Run Recreation Area(WTAP News)
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 2:47 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 3:08 PM EDT
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NELSONVILLE, Ohio (WXIX) - An Ohio national forest’s name could change due to the controversial history of the man it was named after, according to the USDA Forest Service.

Located about 120 miles east of Cincinnati in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, lies Wayne National Forest, a popular hiking and fishing spot near Athens.

Although Wayne National Forest holds several beautiful features, such as the picturesque views at Monroe Overlook or scenic horseback riding trails, officials say the forest’s name has a violent connotation tied to it due to one man’s history.

According to the USDA Forest Service, the forest was named as an homage to Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, who officials say had a history of “leading a violent campaign against the Indigenous peoples of Ohio that resulted in their removal from their own homelands.”

Officials say the current name is “offensive” due to the violence that Wayne unleashed upon several Indian Tribes in Ohio. Historians with the Mount Vernon Washington Library say the general was called “Mad Anthony” because of his “aggressive leadership and “careful planning” in battle.

With the intent to make matters better, federal forest officials are proposing to change the name of Wayne National Forest to Buckeye National Forest. Other names they are considering include Ohio National Forest or Koteewa National Forest.

Before changing the name officially, the agency is asking for local perspectives on the proposal.

A 15-day public engagement period began Aug. 21 for residents to share their opinions on a possible name change.

“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.”

Comments regarding the proposal can be submitted using the email attached to the forest’s website.

Once the public engagement period closes, the Secretary of Agriculture will make the final decision.

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