Adams County sportsmen lose over 3,600 acres of public hunting
The People’s Defender
In a loss felt around Ohio, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Scioto Land Company, formally Mead/Westvaco, couldn’t come to terms for the almost 40,000 acres of public hunting land in southeast Ohio.
According to Jim Hill, ODNR Wildlife Management Supervisor in Southeast Ohio, it came down to Scioto Land Company wanting to be paid for the property to remain open for public hunting.
Affecting Adams County sportsmen are the three tracts of scrub forestland off Beech Fork and Mineral Springs Road containing 3,621 acres; almost as large as the Tranquility Wildlife Area near Peebles. Tract #667, known as the Peach Mountain tract, located on Mineral Springs Road was 992 acres, while tract #665 and #553 located along Beech Fork Road was a combined 2,629 acres. The loss also includes a special Ruffed Grouse Society grouse habitat management area located at tract #665.
Back in the heydays of the 70’s and 80’s when it was Mead Paper Company property, those three tracts in Adams and Scioto County were considered some of the finest grouse and turkey hunting areas in southern Ohio.
For over 40 years Mead Paper Company had permitted public hunting on nearly all their Ohio holdings which amounted to nearly 150,000 acres in southeast Ohio.
“We didn’t even discuss price,” said Mark Hemming, Division of Wildlife District 4 Supervisor in Athens. “The Division of Wildlife is in agreement with numerous property owners and we can’t enter into a lease agreement without it affecting our agreements with other large property owners such as AEP and the various coal companies which allow public hunting. With Scioto Land Company it was a matter of their share holders wanting a return on their investments, so they opted to lease the properties.”
In December of 2005 Scioto Land Company based out of Columbus purchased the Mead properties in Ohio and in 2006 reached a five year agreement with the Division of Wildlife on 43,000 acres for public hunting. Locally that agreement again opened the Beech Fork and Mineral Springs properties in Adams County to public hunting which had been previously leased to private concerns by the old Mead/Westvaco Company. Prior to that, the land was basically a Mead Public Hunting Area for almost 30 years.
Adams County still has numerous public hunting areas with Shawnee and Brush Creek State Forest and 4,254 acre Tranquility Wildlife Area. However the loss of over 3,600 acres is significant for Adams County public hunting opportunities.