The state of Ohio is purchasing more than 31,000 acres of land in eastern/ southeastern Ohio that will be used for conservation and recreation, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The land, owned by American Electric Power (AEP), was used for strip mining dating back to the 1940s.

More than 31,000 acres of land owned by American Electric Power is being purchased by the state of Ohio for $47 million for conservation and recreation, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday (Oct. 2).

“There really was a sense of urgency about this and the urgency came from the fact AEP has indicated their intention to sell off this property,” DeWine said at the statehouse.

The state will pay the $47 million for the land in rural eastern/southeastern Ohio in six installments beginning in March 2020. The money will come from capital improvement funds from the last budget.

The property, reclaimed land formerly used for strip mining, spans Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio and joins Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area. It includes more than 350 lakes and ponds. The purchase includes six campground sites and 24 miles of the Buckeye Trail, a 1,440-mile hiking trail that loops around the state. The area is known for deer and turkey hunting, as well as bass fishing.

“With this acquisition, we guarantee that everyone who loves the outdoors has the opportunity to continue to use this land now and in the future,” DeWine said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has managed portions of the land since 1962, DeWine said.

AEP ceased mining operations in the early 2000s, said company spokesman Scott Blake. The land had been mined since the 1940s.

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