Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

$4.6 million gift will buy new wildlife area land

Carbondale, Ohio – The state will use a $4.6 million gift to
purchase the newest wildlife area in southeast Ohio.

The money, the largest gift in the history of the DNR Division
of Wildlife, will be put toward the purchase of the Wallace H.
O’Dowd Wildlife Area.

“It’s undoubtedly the single biggest gift we’ve ever seen,” said
Dave Graham, chief of the Division of Wildlife.

O’Dowd gave the money to the state upon his death in 2007 (Ohio
Outdoor News, Aug. 31, 2007). A Korean War veteran, the Powell man
built a successful sales career and founded his own manufacturing
business, Capital Polybag Inc. He was 76 at the time of his
death.

An avid grouse hunter, O’Dowd placed just two stipulations on
how the money should be spent: it had to go toward the purchase of
land in grouse range and it had to be open to the public for
hunting and fishing. He gave the division three years to identify
and buy the land.

“Wallace was a tremendous sportsman who hunted all over the
globe but always came back to southeastern Ohio to hunt grouse and
woodcock,” said his widow, Jill O’Dowd, at the time of his death.
“He was a very generous man who wanted to leave a legacy for all
those who shared his passion and love for the sport. He also hoped
he would encourage others to ‘pay forward.'”

The new 3,700-acre property is on the line between Hocking and
Athens counties and adjacent to Wayne National Forest. It is also
between two other state owned properties, one being Trimble
Wildlife Area. The latter two will be combined with the O’Dowd
property to form 7,000 acres in total. It will make it the state’s
sixth largest wildlife area, said Randy Miller, an assistant chief
of the Division of Wildlife.

The new property was purchased from the Sunday Creek Coal
Co.

O’Dowd was so serious about locking up land for future outdoors
pursuits that he lifted language from the Ohio Revised Code and
placed it in his bequest to assure the acreage that his bequest
bought would be locked up forever, Miller said.

“Wally’s generosity and forward thinking is a compliment to our
division and the resources we work to manage and promote,” Graham
said in 2007. “We appreciate the gift and are looking forward to
identifying and purchasing the property that will honor Wally while
enhancing our wildlife resources and the public’s opportunity to
enjoy it.”

The Division of Wildlife’s connection to O’Dowd is largely owed
to former chief Mike Budzik, who befriended the industrialist at a
sportsmen’s club. Budzik and O’Dowd hunted grouse and woodcock
together in southeast Ohio.

“At one point, (Budzik) told Wally that Ohio ranked 47th in
public hunting land available,” Miller said in 2007. “That struck a
note with Wally.”

Miller has been the point man in the acquisition and sale of the
land.

“It is a tremendous gift,” Miller said. “… The O’Dowds have been
very generous in the whole process.”

The largest previous gift to the division was $3 million from
the Mellon Foundation for the Crown City State Wildlife Area in
Lawrence County, said Miller.

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