AEP

State could add vast reclaimed strip mine area to ODNR system

‘Big Muskie,’ the largest single-bucket digging machine ever built, could move 220-cubic yards of earth in the strip mining operation. Photo by The Blade / Matt Markey

‘Big Muskie,’ the largest single-bucket digging machine ever built, could move 220-cubic yards of earth in the strip mining operation. Photo by The Blade / Matt Markey

ENO— “When the coal removal work came to a close in 2001, some 110 million tons of the mineral had been removed, and 2 billion cubic yards of earth had been stripped away to expose those veins of coal. But reclamation efforts in this region in southeastern Ohio, required under federal law, have been ongoing for decades, and what you will see in one previously strip-mined 60,000-acre expanse today is a drastically different panorama.

Mature hardwoods, clusters of pines, meadow grasses, and rolling pastures now dress the AEP ReCreation Land, which is owned and managed by American Electric Power. It was a subsidiary of AEP, the Ohio Coal Company, which started removing coal from these ancient hills in 1947. The reclamation, which has included planting 65 million trees, continues today in what is the single largest outdoor recreation area in the state.

…AEP has sold off other large tracts it owned in this corner of the state and donated about 10,000 acres north of here to The Wilds, a conservation center that is home to zebras, rhinos, wild horses, giraffes, and many other exotic species. AEP is considering selling this vast ReCreation Land, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is the most logical buyer. Ohio Division of Wildlife chief Ray Petering confirmed recently that the potential purchase is being reviewed.”

— Matt Markey, The Blade

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