Contact: John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager
On October 2, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will acquire 31,443-acres from American Electric Power (AEP) at a press conference with sportsmen’s groups in attendance.
AEP’s roughly 60,000-acre ReCreation Land property in eastern Ohio has been open to the public for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational uses since 1962 through an arrangement with the Ohio Division of Wildlife. AEP has been trying to divest of the property for several years, and this agreement, which is largely funded by capital improvement appropriations included in the budget bill passed earlier this year, will ensure that the property remains open for public access.
Last year, the ODNR acquired more than 5,700 acres from AEP to create the Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area. On September 27, the ODNR purchased an additional 4,213 acres using hunter license generated funds. The 31,443-acre agreement announced by Governor DeWine will be completed in six phases over two years beginning in 2020. The state has an option to purchase an additional 18,500 by the summer of 2023.
The AEP acquisition project is critical for maintaining access for sportsmen and women in a state with relatively little public land and furthers Governor DeWine’s strong conservation track record. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation commends Governor DeWine for his continued commitment to conservation.
Ohio’s 1.56 million sportsmen and women contribute more than $4.3 million to the state’s economy and last year alone generated more than $60.6 million for conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?