What is the Abandoned Mine Land Program?
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management administers both a state abandoned mine land (AML) program and a federal AML program to address the highest priority problems resulting from coal mining that occurred prior to enactment of today’s stricter reclamation requirements. Both programs are funded by severance taxes levied on the mining of coal.
Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program
The Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program, formerly known as the AML Pilot Program, was authorized by Congress under the Consolidated Appropriations by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). AML Pilot funds are to be used “for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands in conjunction with economic and community development and reuse goals”.
OSMRE manages the AMLER program, which provides grants to the six states and three Tribes with the greatest amount of unfunded abandoned mine land problems for projects that leverage mine land reclamation with local economic development. Ohio’s grant in 2021 was $25 million and $10 million each year in 2017 - 2020.
Friendship Park Highwall Reclamation
Jefferson County - $2.08 Million
This project will eliminate 3,250 linear feet of unsafe highwalls, positively affect the environment, while also creating recreation space. The improvements are designed to increase visitation to the park and create long-term economic benefits for the Friendship Park District and surrounding communities. The reclamation involves creating 27 acres of usable space within the park, creating or improving over 10,000 feet of hiking/horse trails, and addition of 15 parking spaces. Reclamation involves establishing native vegetation, create bird and pollinator habitats, eliminate invasive species, and creating new emergent wetlands and riparian corridors for streams.
Sally Buffalo Park
Harrison County - $632,208
The dangerous highwall eliminated at Sally Buffalo Park was approximately 2,225 feet long and averaged 60 feet in height. The work also created 4.7 acres of usable space for the Sally Buffalo Park District to expand its campground facilities and an additional 21 acres of open space for recreational use. The project was completed in August of 2019 and planning for campground expansion within the park is on-going.
The Baileys Trail System Project
Athens County - $1.7 Million
This two-phase project includes work at trailheads at Doanville and Chauncey, both part of the new 88-mile Baileys Trail System that is currently under construction. The work will pave the way for cycling and mountain biking opportunities as well as creating economic development opportunities in Ohio’s coal region. The Doanville Trailhead is complete as of May 2021 and the Chauncey Trailhead is starting construction summer of 2021 with expected completion in fall of 2022.
D.O. Hall Business Center Mine Stabilization
Muskingum County - $954,543
Project involved underground stabilization of abandoned coal mine on 4 acres of a 9-acre parcel to promote commercial development opportunities withing the D.O. Hall Business Center. Project was completed in June of 2019. Partners include D.O. Hall Business Park, OMEGA, and Cambridge Industrial Association. The Cambridge Industrial Corporation is working with interested parties to utilize the property to create new tenants and jobs in the region.
Beaver Creek State Park Highwall
Columbiana County - $844,269
Project involved reclaiming approximately 4,700 feet of abandoned coal mine highwall within the Little Beaver Creek State Park. The project will eliminate the dangerous highwall and reforest the area affected by the project with native trees. Improvements within the park included creation of new hiking trails, additional trailhead parking areas with kiosk, and improved roads in the park campground.
Cadiz Rail Highwall
Harrison County - $678,573
The project eliminated 4,000 linear feet of dangerous highwall from abandoned surface coal mines adjacent to an active railroad used heavily for Shale gas development in the region. In total, 20.4 acres of abandoned mines were reclaimed and 2,100 feet of rail line was protected. The project was completed in September of 2020.
Powelson Wildlife Area Highwalls
Muskingum County - $4 Million
The 2,779 acre Powelson Wildlife Area was purchased in 1958 an included many surface coal mined areas. The project will eliminate over 13,000 feet of dangerous highwall adjacent to roads. 30 acres of reclamation will be converted to Dove habitat and plantings to attract new/additional hunting opportunities to the region and create additional recreational tourism opportunities. The project was broken up into 2 phases for construction. The first phase was complete in 2020 and the second phase is being constructed in 2021-2022.
The Wilds Campground Recreation Project
Muskingum County - $1 Million
The project will establish a new full scall RV and primitive campground at The Wilds, a non-profit conservation center located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed and unreclaimed mine lands and is part of the Columbus Zoo. Approximately 50 RV sites and 23 primitive camp sites will be created along with additional parking areas. The AMLER portion of the project will consist of earthwork and site development, utilities to the site, concrete pads for campsites, and road building. The Wilds will build the campsites and other infrastructure including bath houses, playgrounds, dump stations, with other funding sources. This project will be constructed in 2022. This project will increase overnight tourism to The Wilds and surrounding communities, which are remote but get tens of thousands of visitors per year.
Laney Field Highwall
Jefferson County - $284,392
This project is establishing new recreational fields and opportunities in East Springfield, Ohio. The project will eliminate 1,000 feet of dangerous abandoned highwall from a surface coal mine adjacent to the current community baseball field. In addition, the reclamation will create a new soccer/multi-use field and T-ball field, as well as expanded and improved parking areas. This project will be completed in 2021.
Moonville Rail Trail at Ingham’s Station
Vinton and Athens Counties - $1.1 Million
This project will open 12.2 new miles of the Moonville Rail Trail that was previously inaccessible due to lack of bridges over Hewett Fork and will install safety closures for 8 mine entries from abandoned underground coal mines adjacent to the trail. The project will install 7 new bridges and provide trail improvements such as grading and gravel for the multi-use trail. The Moonville Tunnel is a tourist attraction for Vinton County and is located in Zaleski State Forest and near Lake Hope State Park. The Moonville Rail Association has been working on developing the new trail for decades promising to create new recreational opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding to increase tourism to the area, which is estimated to potentially create over 60,000 visitors per year. Additional trail improvements and bridges are being constructed by the Moonville Rail Trail Assocation.
Truetown AMD to Pigment
Athens County - $3.48 Million
The Truetown project will address one of the largest sources of acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned coal mines in Ohio. The discharge from the mine, located in Truetown, severely impacts water quality for 7 miles downstream in Sunday Creek. The project will provide treatment of the AMD
and recover iron oxide to produce pigment. Pigment will be produced using treatment methodologies developed by Ohio University that create high-quality /high demand pigments for art and multiple commercial industries and pigment sales will off-set treatment operational costs. The project will create multiple full-time jobs to run the treatment facility and many ancillary jobs involved with producing, shipping, and sales of pigment. Project partners involve Ohio University Russ College of Engineering, Rural Action, and True Pigments LLC. Project construction is planned to start in 2022.
Wellston Recreation Complex
Jackson County - $1.38 Million
Funding for this project will be utilized to address AML issues in the Wellston Park and improve sports and recreational facilities to increase usage of the fields and create more tournament opportunities that draw people to the region. Park improvements include adding lighting to 3 ballfields, additional trails and trail improvements, soccer field creation, improved and additional parking lots. A hazardous water body, a remnant of surface coal mining at the site, will also be addressed/reclaimed adjacent to one of the ballfields. Project will be completed in 2022. Project partners include Make Wellston Beautifil, City of Wellston and Wellston City School District.
Jefferson County Industrial Park
Jefferson County - $250,000
This project involves site development work on a 26-acre pre-law coal mining site located within the 100-acre Jefferson County Industrial Park. The parcel and is owned by Jefferson County and site development work by the AML Program will be the precursor for the County to build a 100,000+ square foot logistics/industrial building for a potential tenant. It is estimated the site, once built and occupied, would provide 50-100 new jobs for the region.
The Wilds Trout Lake Dangerous Impoundment
Muskingum County - $349,739
The project, completed in August of 2019, involved making improvements for safety to a former mining haul road embankment that is utilized by The Wilds for Safari bus tours. Over 120,000 visitors per year visit The Wilds and the dangerous failing embankment was part of the tour route. The Wilds is economic driver for tourism in the region and addressing the AML feature prevents future delays or shut-down of bus tours.