COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has announced the expansion of the Division of Forestry’s Forest Fire Protection Area that includes Guernsey, Noble and several surrounding counties.
Other counties in the expanded area include Adams, Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Fairfield, Fulton, Gallia, Geauga, Harrison, Henry, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Licking, Lucas, Knox, Meigs, Mahoning, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Perry, Pike, Portage, Richland, Ross, Scioto, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington.
"The expanded wildfire protection area contains approximately 580 fire departments, a significant increase from approximately 325 fire departments contained in the protection area prior to the expansion," said Greg Guess, deputy chief and wildfire program coordinator for the ODNR Division of Forestry. "The ODNR Division of Forestry is looking forward to partnering with more rural fire departments to increase wildfire protection efforts in their communities."
The previous wildfire protection area had been determined in the 1970s. Since then, through successful forest management activities, forest cover in Ohio has increased, which also increased the need to expand the wildfire protection area. This expansion will also provide more rural fire departments with the ability to call on ODNR Division of Forestry personnel and assistance when wildland fires do occur in their areas.
The ODNR Division of Forestry officials said they understand the important public safety services that Ohio’s rural fire departments provide and will strive to help build the capacity of the fire departments across the wildfire protection area. All fire departments within the wildfire protection area have the opportunity to establish a cooperative partnership with the ODNR Division of Forestry, and in doing so may become eligible for grants, equipment assistance programs, wildfire training, wildfire prevention assistance and mutual aid for wildfire suppression.
The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and the fire management program, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.