AEP Re-Creation Lands purchased

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

Among more than $70 billion in state spending priorities is a major item of importance to Ohio’s sportsmen. During negotiations late last month between the House and Senate, Gov. Mike DeWine successfully advocated for $29 million for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife to purchase the remaining 18,000 acres of the AEP Re-Creation Lands. 

Back in 2015, the power company announced its intention to sell the 60,000-acre property, which has long been used by Ohio hunters, anglers and trappers. It was thought that the state of Ohio would be first in line to purchase the prized property, which amounts to 10% of all available public land for sportsmen in the state.

After 2 years, with very little progress, AEP began to consider private buyers, a result Ohio sportsmen were unwilling to tolerate. Led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, a Columbus-based coalition of the state’s top sportsmen’s groups united in 2017 under the banner of Protect What’s Right to advocate for funding for AEP and to restore the financial security of the Division of Wildlife, which had deteriorated over the previous years. Leading organizations in the coalition include Ohio State Trappers Association, Buckeye Firearms Association, Ohio Conservation Federation, Ohio Chapter of NWTF, Greene County Fish and Game, SCI-SW Ohio and SCI Central Ohio, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Black Swamp Bucks Unlimited, Columbiana County Federation of Conservation Clubs and others.

The group successfully recruited then-gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine to support the funding priority if elected governor as part of a major funding overhaul for the Division of Wildlife. Once elected, Gov. DeWine followed through on his promises, including $40 million for AEP grounds in his first budget in 2019. The funds included in this budget will allow the purchase of the remaining acres, saving the public lands for generations to come.

“We greatly appreciate the Governor for keeping his promises and the General Assembly for supporting this major priority for Ohio sportsmen and women,” acknowledged Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “This is a great accomplishment that shows what can happen when sportsmen effectively communicate and work with elected officials. We’re very proud to lead this coalition of the most prominent conservation groups in the state, and look forward to finishing the work we began together in 2017.”

The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits — hunting, fishing and trapping — that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. I used to work for what was then called the Wildlife Legislative Fund of American (WLFA) and The Wildlife Conservation Fund of America (WCFA) and can say that no organization works harder for sportsmen’s rights.

Top 10 boat names for 2021

It’s been a tumultuous year for Americans, and getting away from it all on a recreational boat has given many the respite they’ve needed. With lives upended, some recreational boat owners have chosen to reflect on the times when selecting a name for their boat. “Social Distancing” rocketed to the No. 2 spot on the BoatUS Top 10 Boat Names list for 2021. The choice of boat names, which were requested from the BoatUS online Boat Graphics service, may also tell you a little about the owner.

Here’s this year’s Top 10 Boat Names list:   

1. Andiamo: There’s no mistaking this meaning of this Italian word for “let’s go.” While this name has made the list in the past, never before have so many boaters wanted to go and get away from it all, making this the No. 1 boat name for 2021.

2. Social Distancing: An affirmation of the times, physically separating by escaping to the water gives this boat owner the space they need to recover and rejuvenate during a crazy year of change.

3. Grace: Elegance, a refinement of movement. This owner may have chosen a vessel with the classic lines — a bit of tumblehome, a raked stern and overhanging bow. There may even be Grey Poupon aboard.  

4. Shenanigans: Moving up the list from No. 7 last year, this boat owner is definitely up to something. For other boaters who may share a dock with this vessel’s owner, playful pranks are always part of the summer boating season. Better make sure your binoculars don’t have a layer of black charcoal smudged on the eyepieces before you use them.

5. Cool Change: Also moving up three spots from the previous list, time for a “cool change” can be the escape this boat’s owner is looking for. The literal meaning, which describes the change from a hot summer day to a cool afternoon breeze and thunderstorms ahead, comes from Australia and sparked a pop song.

6. Island Time: Falling from the No. 2 spot last year, everything is more laid back aboard this vessel. Let down your hair, relax — you will get there when you get there. Literally and figuratively, this owner is on Island Time.

7. Knot on Call: Moving up two spots, this is a name often chosen by medical professionals. It also likely appeals to a wider group of boat owners where technology has made them always available to the office.

8. Mojo: Got yours back yet? Boating regains this owner’s energy and enthusiasm.

9. Freedom: Ever since appearing on the Top 10 Boat Names list for the first time after 9/11, this perennial favorite explains everything that boating gives this boat owner. Let it all go — no one is stopping you.

10. Serenity: An all-time favorite that was No. 1 last year, this name may indicate the owner’s need to find time away from a high-stress job … or family! It’s often a name found on sailing vessels.

For a look at all of the BoatUS Top 10 Boat Names lists over the years, go to BoatUS.com/Boatgraphics/Top-10-Boat-Names. 

Fishing stocking info 

Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Director of InnovateOhio, recently announced the expansion of the DataOhio Portal with the addition of a new fish stocking dataset through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. DataOhio is a public-facing portal that provides more than 220 datasets and over 100 interactive visualizations to inform data-driven decision-making for state agencies and their partners. The DOP is a first-of-its-kind state technology, enabling data collaboration and sharing while also featuring enhanced security and privacy.

“Ohio lakes, rivers and streams have been stocked with over 1.5 billion fish since 1970, and most Ohioans who fish were unable to know what species and how many fish were stocked in their local lakes,” Husted said. “As someone who has fished Ohio lakes my entire life, I know how valuable this information can be to anglers who are deciding where they should take their grandchildren to fish or where they might catch that trophy they’ve always wanted.”

ODNR’s fish stocking dataset is available to the public and viewable in an interactive Ohio map and data table, which allows users to customize their search by: Location, stocking year (1970-Present), species, lifestage (fry, fingerling, etc.) and total stocked. Users can access the new fish stocking dataset and visualization under “Recent Datasets” or by filtering the Data Catalog by “Agency > Ohio Department of Natural Resources” at data.ohio.gov.

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