DNR still plans AEP ReCreation Land purchase
Plans by the Ohio DNR to acquire at least part of the AEP ReCreation Land in eastern Ohio are on track, but “moving at the speed of state government,” according to Ray Petering, chief of the agency’s wildlife division.
Petering told members of the Ohio Wildlife Council on Aug. 17 talks continue between representatives of AEP and DNR to acquire the power company’s reclaimed strip-mined land. However, many details must still be ironed out between the two.
Petering said an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with AEP for a long-term purchase is likely.
The 60,000-acre ReCreation Land in Muskingum, Noble, Morgan and Guernsey counties is Ohio’s largest outdoor recreational facility. It is currently co-managed by AEP and the DNR.
It encompasses woodlots, 350 lakes and ponds, 380 campsites and miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. A portion of the 1,200-mile Buckeye Trail also runs through the area. Hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking and camping are currently free to the public via a permit system.
Federal money from wildlife and sportfish restoration trusts would provide most of the dollars needed for the state to make a purchase. However, Ohio must come up with a 25 percent match.
Finding a way to meet that match is one hurdle that must be overcome before any sale or MOU is finalized.
Petering hopes to announce an agreement in September.