Wise use of land key to our area#039;s future

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Tribune editorial staff

Famed humorist and author Mark Twain may not have ever stepped foot in Lawrence County, but he certainly offered our area some wisdom when he said, "Buy land, they’re not making it anymore."

And as with many of Twain’s homespun remarks, the nugget of truth within is what makes the comment so funny and so telling.

Email newsletter signup

A cynic might look at Lawrence County and say, "Land is about all that county has."

And, while heavy industry has migrated elsewhere, leaving our area lacking for the number of jobs it once had, the area still has the land.

From the gorgeous views overlooking the Ohio River to the twisting hills that make the corner of Ohio uniquely Appalachian, our county certainly has an abundance of beautiful, useful land.

And, as Mark Twain said,

"they’re not making it anymore."

So the question becomes: what can, or should, we do to develop the land we have? How should it be utilized?

The issue came up in earnest following the Nature Conservancy’s purchase of more than several thousand acres of county land within the last year. The group hoped eventually to transfer the land to the U.S. Forest Service to be included in the Wayne National Forest.

In April, the county’s economic development group partnered with several agencies to study the issue of land use in the county. The aim was to slow down the quick transfer of massive portions of land and make sure the land transfers were in the best interest of the public.

The study group has held several public meetings seeking input from residents. And as one might expect lots of ideas have been brought forth.

The most consistent and most logical of the ideas considered involve developing a plan to improve the recreational use of the land. The fact is, people from outside this area, love the beauty of the nature that we often take for granted. We just need to make that nature more accessible for them.

The same land that once created great economic benefit for our area with the production of iron still holds great opportunity.

While the iron industry is not likely to re-emerge, how we "mine" the land for the next use to benefit the community is still up in the air. Focusing that use on developing better, more professional recreational facilities seems about as logical as Twain’s comments.