It seems like the oil industry is making its way to the Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Oil and Gas Land Management Commission, part of the ODNR, has selected Encino Energy Partners for a bid on about 66 acres of land in the area for mineral rights below the selected property in the panhandle of the area next to Hanover Township.

Encino Energy placed a $231,692 bid with one acre costing $3,500. Additionally, ODNR will receive a 12.5% royalty paid to the state for production and a financial incentive of 5.5% of production paid to the state.

The area is northeast of of the 39-acre Zepernick Lake and four miles northwest of Hanoverton.

The lease includes additional restrictions related to the ODNR properties, including setbacks for well placement off of state park grounds, water quality testing, and restricted drilling times.

None of the leases would permit surface operations on ODNR property.

Back in November 2023, the commission approved opening the wildlife area and other state lands to gas and oil drilling despite vocal concerns from environmental groups. 

Bidding began in January for the 66 acres in Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County, along with 20,000 acres of Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County and more than 300 acres of Valley Run Wildlife Area in Carroll County.

Zepernick is a 512-acre property in West Township that offers hunting and fishing activities to the public.