COLUMBUS, Ohio – The daughters of Olympic hero Jesse Owens were joined by Ohio officials including Gov. John Kasich at the grand opening of Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area on July 17, 2018.
The new 5,735-acre addition to Ohio’s public lands, planned to eventually span more than 13,000 acres, will provide Ohioans, as well as visitors to the Buckeye State, countless opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreational activities, including hunting, fishing, hiking and camping.
Honoring the namesake of Ohio’s newest state park and wildlife area, Gov. Kasich said, “The actions of our heroes, such as the remarkable achievements of Jesse Owens, should be preserved for generations going forward so they can inspire men and women of the future to overcome challenges and accomplish their very best. This new park and wildlife area is a fitting way for Ohio to honor his memory, leadership and courage.”
Recognizing the importance of this opportunity to expand Ohio’s public land offerings, ODNR Director Jim Zehringer said, “Protecting such a large swath of land for public recreation and enjoyment is a vital step toward preserving Ohio’s outdoor sporting traditions.”
Jesse Owens (1913-1980), raised in Cleveland, was a world record-setting sprinter at The Ohio State University who became an international sports legend after winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Joining Gov. Kasich for today’s grand opening were two of Jesse Owens’ daughters, Beverly Owens Prather and Marlene Owens Rankin.
Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area was created through an agreement between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and American Electric Power (AEP). Located in eastern Ohio, the property obtained by the state is 5,720 acres that were previously part of the AEP ReCreation Land. ODNR has agreed to purchase additional acres over the next two years which will increase the size of the park and wildlife area to more than 13,000 acres.
Prior to the purchase, the AEP ReCreation Land covered a total of 60,000 acres in Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties, which was previously all company-owned property that had been surface mined for coal. In recent years, AEP reclaimed the land and opened it to public access for camping and other outdoor recreation.
ODNR proports to ensure “a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.” Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov for more information.