National Forest Service to move

CATEGORY: Lafayette County

AUTHOR: HILL

National Forest Service to move

By Jane Hill

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Federal budget pressures are causing a change in the administration of national forests in Northeast Mississippi, according to a ranger with the National Forest Service’s Holly Springs office.

Ranger Gerald Inmon said due to budget reductions, the ranger station at the Holly Springs National Forest will be moved from Holly Springs to Oxford.

The rangers will make their new home at the U.S. Forest Service Hydrology Lab at the corner of Mississippi Highway 6 and Coliseum Drive in Oxford beginning April 1. The hydrology lab will not change locations; the two operations will work out of the same building, he said.

Inmon said federal government downsizing has made it impractical to continue to rent the existing ranger station in Holly Springs. Forest officials estimate the service will save $250,000 in rent over the next 10 years by consolidating its operations. The U.S. Forest Service owns the Oxford office.

In addition to the change in location, the Oxford-based ranger station will take on an extra 20,776 acres of national forest land in Yalobusha County. In the past there was some confusion because the Yalobusha forest was classified as part of the Holly Springs National Forest but was administered through the Tombigbee National Forest ranger office in Ackerman, he said.

The renovation of the Holly Springs National Forest Service Work Center at Potts Camp will result in an increased presence there. The district office also will maintain a work center in Yalobusha County about five miles east of Tillatoba on new Mississippi Highway 330, Inmon said.

Public input invited

Inmon said he hoped the centralized location of the Oxford facility would make it easier for the public to work with the Forest Service. The basic duties of the National Forest Service are timber and recreation management and wildlife and watershed protection.

The 155,000-acre Holly Springs National Forest is one of the most scattered publicly owned forests in the United States, Inmon said.

Portions of the forest lie in Benton, Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah, Union, and Yalobusha counties. Some of the holdings in those counties are small, isolated patches of land that are a headache to administer separately. One of the goals of those who manage the forest is to consolidate the government’s holdings through voluntary land swaps with private landowners, Inmon said.

Because there are no government funds available for outright land purchases, the government swaps land it owns for other tracts of equal value that border its existing forest, Inmon said.

As an additional cost-cutting measure the Forest Service is cutting personnel at its Jackson offices, making it possible to field more personnel in the district offices, Inmon said.

Inmon encouraged the public to get more involved in what the Forest Service does in their area by helping the service identify key management issues of national forest administration.

Those who want to get directly involved may ask to be placed on the Forest Service mailing list by writing to: District Ranger, 636 Highway 178 E., Holly Springs, MS 38635 before April 1. After April 1, the public may write to District Ranger, P.O. Box 947, Oxford, MS 38655.

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