OHIO – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced Thursday 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.