Looking around much of southeastern Ohio now, it may be hard to believe that at one time the state was only about 10% forested. Enter the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, that worked to see that Ohio's tree population, well, grew.
"It was started because Ohio had become de-forested due to the early buildings of homes, and farmlands, and things and so on," says Jack Haessly, of the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority. "So, they created these three nurseries that, over the course of their lifetimes, put out over half a billion tree seedlings."
Southeastern Ohio has since reached well over 50% in forests and as a result the nurseries are no longer needed. Now, ODNR and the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority is looking for ways the nursery can be further utilized.
"The 95 acres here have been divided out by ODNR into six different parcels," Haessly says. "The idea behind what's going to happen from here has been to keep this property in four different uses. One would be a continuation of some agriculture type products. Second, would be commercial. Third would be residential and the possibility of some light industrial."
The Southeastern Ohio Port Authority hopes to move the project along quickly.
"We have established, in our task force, a deadline of Oct.30th, to try to get some proposals in," says Terry Tamburini, with the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority. "We want an idea, a concept of what people are interested in doing with the property. Our ultimate deadline, the one we have negotiated with the state, is June 30th, 2012."
Tamburini says he hopes the community will be involved every step of the way.
"This isn't just about the property, even though the property is tremendously important," Tamburini says. "It's about the process and connecting . It's giving the neighbors, the people of Reno, the feeling that they are part of this process."
A process that the ODNR and Southeastern Ohio Port Authority hopes will bring new business and employment.