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ODNR Moving Forward to Eliminate Abandoned Mine Land Hazards in Athens County

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is moving forward with plans to address abandoned mine land (AML) hazards and create two trailheads for The Baileys Trail System for all Ohioans to enjoy. The project will also create economic development opportunities in the coal region of Ohio.

“The work being done at these sites will transform potentially hazardous land into beautiful and useful spaces for everyone to appreciate and use,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.

This two-phase project includes work at trailheads at Doanville and Chauncey, both part of the Baileys Trail System.

The Doanville Trailhead project will establish a trailhead for the newly created mountain bike / single-track 88-mile trail on the Wayne National Forest and dangerous mine openings in the area will be eliminated. Engineers estimate the trailhead and AML work will cost $182,637. Construction is expected to begin in October of 2020.

Future work will be completed at a second trailhead site in Chauncey, the main trailhead for Baileys Trail System. This work will be constructed later in 2021 and will include a connection to the Hocking-Adena Bikeway. The cost estimate for this project is $1.5 million. ODNR will eliminate AML public safety hazards at both sites by utilizing federal grant funds awarded to ODNR’s Division of Mineral Resources Management.

According to an economic impact study conducted by Qualified Ventures, Inc., the trail system could increase visitation to 180,000 visitors per year. That research estimates the first decade will generate:

· $24.8 million in local economic spending

· $8.6 million in additional wages

· $6.9 million in increased government revenue and

· 65 jobs created or retained

ODNR is coordinating with the Baileys Trail System Partnership and the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA) on the project. ORCA will handle maintenance of trails of the Baileys Trail System.

ODNR administers both a state and federal AML program. Prior to 1972, Ohio statute did not require restoration of desirable environmental conditions to surface mined areas. In August 2019, ODNR’s AML program received the Abandoned Mind Land Reclamation Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior for its work on the Dessecker Mine Project in Tuscarawas County.

The Division of Mineral Resources Management oversees the safe and environmentally sound development and restoration of mineral and fossil fuel extraction sites. The division also restoresabandoned mine land, enforces mining safety laws, and ensures the protection of citizens, land and water resources.