1,800+ acres of Coshocton Forest preserved
March 5, 2020
American Electric Power (AEP), Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Ohio Public Works Commission and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) have worked together to permanently preserve 1,827 acres of forestland in Linton Township. This land, which has been open for public use for years as part of the Conesville Public Recreation Area will forever remain open to public use due to a successful partnership between a large corporation, local and state government, and the largest land trust in Ohio. The permanent conservation of the forest will ensure recreational use for community members and visitors, and continue to contribute to the local economy with tourism revenue.
“The acquisition of this property will forever preserve a massive stretch of forests and waters, provide increased park and recreational opportunities for the public and encourage tourism that benefits the Coshocton economy,” said Mike Williams, AEP real estate supervisor. “The preservation of this property will protect water quality, contribute to stronger property values, job creation and enhance quality of life.”
Utilizing Clean Ohio funding, the MWCD and Western Reserve Land Conservancy acquired the property from AEP. The vast natural area will be open to the public for hiking, bird watching, nature study, fishing, hunting and more. The property will offer immense community benefit, adding to the $56.5 million tourism industry in Coshocton County. Coshocton Forest is located in the Muskingum River watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in the state of Ohio, encompassing 8,051 square miles.
“The Land Conservancy is proud to help maintain this important recreation area,” said Alex Czayka, Senior Vice President for Conservation Transactions at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “It’s a huge win when we are able to create harmony between conservation, recreation and economy. We are grateful for the forward-thinking minds of our partners at both AEP and MWCD. Conservation of Coshocton Forest will be a great benefit for the local community now and for generations to come.”
The acquisition of Coshocton Forest will preserve 86 acres of ponds, 161 acres of wetlands, and more than 28,000 linear feet of streams located on the property. The acquisition and preservation of Coshocton Forest will protect the integrity of these valuable natural resources and sustain their capacity to provide high-quality plant and animal habitat, storm water mitigation, and water quality protection within the Muskingum River watershed, among other benefits.
“By acquiring this property, MWCD will have multiple opportunities to implement conservation and recreation measures in line with MWCD’s mission, that will further enhance the preservation, conservation, and recreation of the property for the benefit of the public for generations to come,” said John Hoopingarner, Executive Director for the MWCD.
Coshocton Forest possesses the forested habitat features needed to support diverse wildlife, such as the Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, multiple migratory bird species, and a variety of avian focal species for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including the cerulean warbler, Henslow’s sparrow, bald eagle, and grasshopper sparrow. Hickory trees are one of several dominant hardwood varieties found on the property, as are ash, red and white oaks, cottonwood, aspen, elm, and sycamore.
The MWCD will own and manage the property moving forward. MWCD currently manages over 54,000 acres of water and land in the Muskingum River Watershed. The Coshocton Forest is planned to be managed for the preservation and enhancement of healthy sustainable forests and waters, along with the conservation of valuable natural resources. At the same time the property will be managed to continue to provide and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy.
About American Electric Power
American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to our customers. AEP’s approximately 18,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 219,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 31,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including more than 5,200 megawatts of renewable energy. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas and the Texas Panhandle). AEP also owns AEP Energy, AEP Energy Partners, AEP OnSite Partners, and AEP Renewables, which provide innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide. For more information, visit aep.com.
About Western Reserve Land Conservancy
The nationally accredited Western Reserve Land Conservancy— the largest local land trust in Ohio—provides the people of northern and eastern Ohio with essential natural assets through land conservation and restoration. The Land Conservancy has preserved natural areas and working farms in more than 20 counties across Ohio. Its urban program, Thriving Communities, works statewide to clean and green urban centers devastated by the foreclosure crisis. To date, the Land Conservancy has permanently preserved more than 61,000 acres at 774 properties; created more than 170 public parks and preserves; led the efforts to create 57 county land banks across Ohio; as well as planted and distributed more than 14,000 robust trees in Cleveland. For more information, visit www.wrlandconservancy.org.
About Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District
The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving over $7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region’s economy. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.