The Poland Community Forest
(A First for Ohio)

Editor’s Comments: To the west of the Poland Township Boundary Line and east of Interstate Highway 680 is an area outlined on the present Mahoning County Map as the Poland Village Park. This same area is also known by most local residents as the Poland Woods or the Poland Municipal Forest. In 2005 the Poland Village Council had this wooded area surveyed and all of its 244.5 acres annexed to the Village. The history of the Poland Municipal Forest goes back over 90 years. In the Ohio Forest Association “News Bulletin” dated October 10, 1946 the following article appeared:

THE POLAND COMMUNITY FOREST - - An interesting and unusual ordinance was passed in 1916 by the Council of Poland Village near Youngstown, Ohio. This provides for the creation of the Poland Community Forest “for the purpose of creating a municipal enterprise which shall be self-sustaining and providing for the care and management thereof”. Thus this forest is on record as being the first of its kind in Ohio to be managed on the principle of “sustained yields”. It is also the first for which a plan was made exclusively for it management as a forest.

This forest is the result of two land gifts to the Village of Poland. One tract of 50 acres was donated by Judge Rose in 1916, and later in 1931 an area of 150 acres was given by Mrs. Grace Butler in memory of her husband. A part of this tract, called “Butler Woods,” is to be kept in its natural condition.

The woods itself borders Poland Village, which is about 10 miles from Youngstown, Ohio. Old-timers recall the wood as a virgin stand of sugar maple, beech, basswood, red and white oak, ash, willow, and sycamore on the bottoms. Numbers of large trees are still on the area. Evergreens, including red and white pine, and Norway spruce, as well as some hardwoods, have been planted on the area.

Accurate forestry data were taken on this area some years ago. These include not only numbers of trees of the various species but records which will permit the management of the forest in ways which will increase its productivity. The management plan prepared includes cutting operations which would bring in revenues that eventually will make the woods a source of income for the village. The speed with which this recommendation will be carried out depends, as stated in the plans “upon the conditions of the local wood-using markets and the availability of labor at a reasonable wage”. The report concluded with the following statement: “Whatever the future may hold the wide-awake Board of Commissioners of the Forest, in their eager interest to see the forest pay its own way, will neither slumber nor sleep till their plans have been accomplished.

PS. Judge Rose was a developer and his 50 acre donation located in the flood plain of Yellow Creek was a tax advantage to him. Mrs. Butler’s 150 acre donation was in the flood plains of both Drake Run and Yellow Creek and thus unsuitable for development. With the Poland Village Council now suffering a lost of tax dollars due to the present economical recession, the “Woods” could become a new source of revenue for the Village. Fire wood is always in demand as an alternate source of heat during recessions.