ODNR Eliminating Dangerous Highwalls and Improving Park in Jefferson County
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has started construction to address abandoned mine land (AML) hazards and create recreation space in Jefferson County. Once complete, the Friendship Park Highwall Reclamation Project will offer a safe place for recreation and increase tourism to the area.
“Cleaning up abandoned mine lands provides a unique opportunity for us,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “These projects eliminate dangerous conditions and create safe, serene places for people to walk, bike, and enjoy nature.”
Construction began in Friendship Park on September 30, 2020. By the time the project is complete in the fall of 2021, ODNR will have reclaimed 2,700 linear feet of unsafe highwalls. Highwalls are steep, exposed cliffs left over from Ohio’s pre-reclamation law mining era. The unstable ground can pose many dangers including falling rock.
In addition to eliminating the AML public health and safety hazards, the project will create new recreational opportunities for the park, promote biodiversity and provide long-term economic benefits to the park district and local community. Recreation opportunities include an expansion of the existing trail to include more than 1.5 miles of walking and bridle trails.
The project will also positively affect the environment. The work will restore native grass and forest lands, create 4.3 acres of pollinator habitat, reestablish riparian corridors, and use natural stream channel designs and permanent wetlands in the storm water controls. The total cost of this project is estimated at $1.5 million.
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 restores abandoned mine land, enforces mining safety laws, and ensures the protection of citizens, land and water resources.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.