A recent purchase by The Nature Conservancy will add 4,000 acres to Ohio's largest public forest and protect habitat for imperiled songbirds, rare bats and black bears. The Conservancy's Ohio chapter recently announced the purchase of 1,621 acres of rolling foothills in the Ironton Forest region of southern Ohio — the second phase of a two-part land purchase that has protected more than 4,100 acres of Appalachian forest. The first phase of the project was completed in December 2003, when the Conservancy bought 2,497 adjacent acres.
The land is located within the Ironton Ranger District of the Wayne National Forest, and the Conservancy intends to transfer the land to the U.S. Forest Service, where it will become part of the largest stretch of unbroken public forest in Ohio. The land has been owned by MeadWestvaco Corp. since 1996.
A landscape of high ridges and deep hollows notched by ecologically diverse streams and forested wetland communities, such as emergent marsh and buttonbush shrub swamp, the Ironton Forest region is home to imperiled species including the Indiana bat and cerulean warbler, as well as river otters, bobcat and part of the state's recently repatriated population of black bear.
As part of the national forest, the land purchased by the Conservancy will be open to public hunting, fishing and hiking.
"We're protecting future forests," said Richard Shank, state director of the Conservancy's Ohio Chapter. "As part of the Wayne National Forest, this land will be a resource for generations to come — a forest that can provide timber, recreation opportunities, and wildlife habitat for a multitude of species."
"We're protecting future forests. As part of the Wayne National Forest, this land will be a resource for generations to come.)
The forests of Appalachian Ohio are characterized by a patchwork ownership pattern of private and public lands, with a small percentage of land in public ownership and a wide variety of land management systems in place. As in most Eastern forests, the land management trends predict smaller and smaller land holdings, managed for short-term economic gain, and subject to frequent ownership transfer. The Ironton Forest is one of several forest landscapes within Appalachian Ohio that the Conservancy has identified as providing the best opportunities to practice forest conservation at an appropriate scale. Large blocks of forested lands (more than 20,000 acres) are important because they protect individual species as well as the natural processes — including fire, storms, and other disturbances — that lead to healthy biological diversity.
To encourage the protection of large landscapes, the Conservancy is working with a variety of partners, including local communities, and government agencies, to provide a mix of public and private solutions — from buying land, to encouraging nature-based tourism, to advocating on behalf of financial incentives for private landowners. For example, Pete Whan, Director of Community-Based Programs for the Appalachian Ohio Conservation Area, serves on a local planning group that is working to improve relations between the Wayne National Forest and the local community.
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I found a list of property they have been selling. Pretty good conspiricy.