The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is negotiating a deal to buy a large chunk of a 60,000-acre property from American Electric Power (AEP).
The state wants to use it for a number of public recreation purposes, including hunting and fishing, according to a news release.
“An opportunity to acquire and protect such a large, open expanse of land for public recreation is rare,” Governor John Kasich said in a news release. “Ohioans and out-of-state visitors who are drawn to our great state parks, forests, nature preserves and wildlife areas will potentially have even greater opportunities to explore and enjoy the outdoors.”
The property, known as ReCreation Land, stretches into Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum, and Noble counties. AEP reclaimed the land, which was once strip mined for coal, and turned it into a recreation area with trails, ponds and lakes, campsites, and trees.
The Ohio Coal Company, a subsidiary of AEP, began mining the land in 1947 producing 110 million tons of coal. Since reclaiming the land, AEP has opened it up to the public. Although the public can use the land for free, visitors must have a permit.
The state will probably acquire the land in parcels over a period of years, according to ODNR Director James Zehringer.