January 10, 2022 – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced that the Shawnee State Forest in southeast Ohio will expand by 1,252 acres after a recent land acquisition.
“This is an important acquisition project,” said Jon Steigerwaldt, Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society Regional Forest Conservation Director. “Southeast Ohio is an incredibly important region for the future of ruffed grouse in the state as it boasts some of its largest and most actively managed contiguous blocks of forest. An important aspect of this project is that the land is being acquired through Ohio’s Forest Legacy Program, which has a core goal of protecting working forests and providing public recreational opportunities, including hunting.”
Thanks goes out to Ohio chapters and members for their support of the project with a special thanks going to the Gilbert R Symons Chapter that provided $3,000 of RGS & AWS’s $5,000 match contribution towards this project.
The acquisition adds a contiguous 1,252 acre tract of former Mead Paper land in Scioto County that lies adjacent to Shawnee State Forest, in a region nicknamed the Little Smokies of Ohio. The Shawnee State Forest has Ohio’s only state-designated wilderness area and surrounds Shawnee State Park, which together are ODNR’s largest contiguous protected forest (over 60,000 acres).
These former industrial forest lands historically provided public hunting access, and this project will ensure that this tract will permanently provide that access. The project area supports high biological diversity and quality wild game habitat, and it’s also important for recreation and tourism. The Shawnee region is one of the most productive for timber in Ohio. The tract will be managed for timber, hunting, recreation, and other uses consistent with all state forest land in Ohio.
Below is the ODNR’s press release:
Shawnee State Forest Expanded by More Than 1,200 Acres
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced today that the Shawnee State Forest will expand by more than 1,200 acres.
“By growing Shawnee State Forest, we are securing, protecting, and conserving important land in Ohio for the future,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “The expansion will significantly increase Ohio’s largest contiguous block of forest, enhancing biodiversity and providing a mix of recreational opportunities, as well as other direct and indirect benefits to all Ohioans.”
ODNR’s Division of Forestry acquired the property with a federal partnership grant through the Forest Legacy Program.
The 1,252-acre tract in Scioto County is approximately 75 miles south of Columbus and 65 miles east of Cincinnati. The land, located near Shawnee State Park and The Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve, is now part of the state forest. This purchase will allow ODNR to partner with the Buckeye Trail Association and reroute a section of the Buckeye Trail off the road and through the wooded area.
“This partnership with the Buckeye Trail Association will provide people with an amazing opportunity to see our largest state forest,” said Director Mary Mertz. “More public land under conservation management will protect water quality, improve wildlife habitat and forest products, increase recreational opportunities, and improve ecosystem services for the local community and people all over the state.”
Ohio’s Forest Legacy Program, which uses perpetual working forest agreements or fee-simple purchase on working forest lands, was established in 2005. The Division of Forestry has obtained Legacy Program funding to permanently protect 9,720 acres of important working forest land within Ohio. More information about the program can be found here and by searching for “Forest Legacy” at ohiodnr.gov.
In addition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s financial support provided with grant cost-share from the state, the Ohio Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ruffed Grouse Society both contributed funds to support the acquisition.
The Ohio Division of Forestry promotes the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit Forestry.ohiodnr.gov. Follow us on Facebook @odnrforestry and on Instagram @odnrforestry (instagram.com/odnrforestry).