Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest
Opportunity for Permanent Protection
Question and Answers
Why is this acquisition worth the investment of public funds?
• As urban sprawl continues to diminish our remaining woodlands, the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest/Raccoon Ecological Management Area (REMA) is, at 15,849 acres, the largest remaining intact block of forestland still available for permanent protection in Ohio.
• The Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is one of the most important research forests in the eastern United States. Since 2000 alone, data collected at the forest has been cited in nearly 200 scholarly papers on forest ecology, forest management, and wildlife.
• The site is home to research dedicated to restoring oak trees to Ohio’s forests. Oaks are some of Ohio’s most important wildlife species and a valuable part of the state’s $15 billion wood industry.
• The Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is home to three state threatened plant species (Bartley’s bent reed grass, wild kidney bean and butterfly-pea), and two state endangered plant species (the flame azalea and big leaf magnolia). The Vinton Furnace also supports Ohio’s most critical populations of timber rattlesnake and bobcat, and provides important habitat for the cerulean warbler, a species of special concern to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Division of Wildlife’s strategic plan for forest habitat identifies 57 animal species in and around the Vinton Furnace that face habitat shortages and low or declining populations.
• Under state ownership, the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest will be managed to protect ongoing and new research efforts, provide public access, promote native wildlife, and provide sustained timber production essential for the economy of southeastern Ohio. State ownership will assure that this forest will provide all of these benefits to Vinton County and all Ohio’s citizens in perpetuity.
How much will the forest cost and what funds will be used to purchase the property?
The total purchase price and costs for the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is $15,100,000. Of that amount, only $3,884,000 will come from state Capital funds.
Over the past three years the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has obtained environmental mitigation funds from private companies and dedicated land conservation funds from the federal government. Together, non-state sources comprise 70% of the funding needed to purchase the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest. For every $1 of state funds more than $2.5 will come from private and federal sources. In addition, a unique partnership with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station will provide continued, non-state funded staffing and maintenance for the property.
Why is now the right time for this purchase?
The use of available private and federal funds is contingent on the State closing on the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest by the end of 2010. The majority of these funds will not be available at a later time. It is unlikely that the state will ever again be able to assemble a funding package in which non-state funds make up more than 70% of the total.
How will this purchase benefit the local community?
• Tax revenue provided to the local school and governments are expected to more than double over that paid by the current owners. Last year, the entire property generated approximately $16,000 in tax revenue for the local school district, township and county governments. As a State Forest, at least twice that amount will be returned to Vinton County annually through the Trees to Textbooks program. In addition, because a portion of the funding for this project is provided by the Division of Wildlife, approximately $19,000 every year will be shared with Vinton County through the Division of Wildlife payment in lieu of taxes program.
• The Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest lies near McArthur, the heart of Ohio’s sawmill industry. The property also provides, through a previous sales agreement, an ongoing source of fiber for the Glatfelter Paper Mill in Chillicothe, one of southern Ohio’s most important employers. State ownership guarantees that the forest will be sustainably managed for a range of benefits, including timber production.
Who supports this purchase?
In addition to local officials, a wide array of university and federal forest researchers, woodland owners, educators, recreational groups, environmental organizations, forest industry leaders and sportsmen’s clubs support the purchase of the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest. All together, ODNR has received more than 200 letters of support for permanently protecting the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest.