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Ohio Supreme Court case looks at strip mining on state lands
Issue is expected to grow as owners of mineral rights and land increasingly become different people

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether someone who owns mineral rights under state parks and wildlife refuges can strip mine the land. 

The argument centers on a hunting and fishing area about an hour southeast of Canton called the Brush Creek Wildlife area. The state created it in the 1940s, but left the mineral rights in private hands. Two men who hold those mineral rights now want top strip mine more than 60 acres to get to coal. The state says that would destroy the property and tip the balance between surface-land owners and mineral-rights owners too far one way.

James Zehringer of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says, with the boon in fracking and other drilling, the argument is being watched beyond Brush Creek.

LISTEN: Zehringer on what's to come

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“The development of this is going to be challenging at times when it’s not clear who owns the property. There’s a lot of property that was either sold (or) donated to the state for state parks, so we’re really researching this and watching this very closely until we know developmental rights and non-developmental rights are all figured out.”

In its arguments, the state maintains that this particular case was already figured out 50 years ago, when a Jefferson County judge said barred the then-owner of the coal rights from strip-mining. 

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