The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has purchased 477 acres at the former Woodland Trails Scout Reservation and will make it a part of state’s wildlife preserve in Preble County.
ODNR paid the Miami Valley Council of Boy Scouts of America $1.815 million for the property, according to Brian Plasters, Ohio Division of Wildlife spokesman.
This is the second time in more than 20 years that the council sold land to the state for the Woodland Trails Wildlife Area that is home to white-tailed deer and wild turkey with bald eagles and bobwhite quail nesting in the vicinity. In 2000, Miami Valley Council sold the original 718 acres to the Division of Wildlife to create the state wildlife area.
The land is located between Gasper Somers and Tucker roads in Gasper Twp.
“The Division of Wildlife’s latest purchase ensures that more hunting, birding, and wildlife opportunities will be available for Ohioans at Woodland Trails Wildlife Area,” said Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “Supporters of conservation can celebrate that we are securing public land for the people who visit it and the wildlife species that depend on its habitat.”
ODNR officials said the 477 acres connects two of the three existing parcels at Woodland Trails, creating a 1,152 contiguous block of habitat. Wildlife managers plan to open the new public land to hunting this fall.
Acquisition costs for the property came from hunting license funds paid by sportsmen and sportswomen and will be partially reimbursed from federal excise taxes paid by hunters on their purchases of hunting equipment. The Division of Wildlife uses these funds to acquire and manage habitat that benefits wildlife and wildlife recreation.
Jeffrey Schiavone, Miami Valley Council scout executive/CEO, said the final parcel, the core area of the camp, has not been placed on the market for sale. The portion that was sold last week was deemed as “excess land.”
“This sale will allow the Miami Valley Council to make our contribution to the National BSA’s Survivor’s Trust, along with all local councils across the country, which will achieve two key imperatives: equitably compensate survivors of past abuse and ensure the mission of Scouting to continues in our communities,” Schiavone said. “Since the beginning of this process, we’ve been hyper-focused on continuing Scouting’s long-standing tradition of environmental stewardship, and we are very happy that the land is placed in the hands of a conservation-minded organization with ODNR.”
Schiavone said the council’s programming will continue through the use, and further development, of its properties Cricket Holler Scout Camp and the Harry F. Schiewetz Leadership Training Center.
“The Miami Valley Council will continue to deliver life-changing experiences to youth in our area well into the future,” he said. “Our leadership team is committed to making decisions that are in the best interest of continuing our important mission and delivering Scouting’s invaluable programs to youth in our area.”
Schiavone said the decision to sell the camp was made after its board explored ways to preserve the assets critical to the mission of delivering the Scouting program in the five-county service area as well as compensating survivors of abuse by contributing to the trust as part of the national organization’s financial restructuring process.
The Miami Valley Council executive board approved selling the camp on Oct. 27, 2021, Schiavone said. He said the anticipated contribution of the council to the trust to compensate survivors through the BSA’s financial restructuring process is $1.255 million.
He said the local council has not filed for bankruptcy. In addition, restricted donations can only be used for their designated purpose and will continue to support local Scouting in our area.
The Miami Valley Council purchased about 2,000 acres in Preble County in 1958 as the outdoor program was outgrowing the Cricket Holler camp, which was built in 1919.
Since 1959, the council operated a summer camp and officially renamed the new camp from Miami Valley Scout Reservation to Woodland Trails in 1960.
The summer camp did not operate in 2020 and was forced to cancel its 2021 season due to a COVID-19 outbreak in July. The council board decided to sell the camp property on Oct. 27, 2021.
In 1996, the Dan Beard Council in Cincinnati sold Camp Hook, located outside of Middletown. The camp operated for 70 years before being sold to Five Rivers MetroParks.
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