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Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area

Appalachian Hills Wildlife area stretches across parts of Guernsey, Noble, Morgan and Muskingum counties. This former mining land includes 63 million trees, 293 campsites, and 350 lakes; the 1,400-mile Buckeye Trail runs through this region. Hunters can hunt on Division of Wildlife owned land on the Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area without an AEP Permit, but AEP currently owns 18,000 acres. Get a free AEP Permit from AEP to ensure that you can hunt the entire area.

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Location & Description

The 35,396-acre Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area, located in portions of Morgan, Muskingum, and Noble counties, is situated in southern Ohio approximately 6 miles east of McConnelsville. It surrounds Jesse Owens Wildlife Area. The primary access to the wildlife area is from State Route 78 and State Route 83. Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area is located in the unglaciated region of southern Ohio. The terrain, dissected by numerous small streams, is rolling to rugged. Much of the land that comprises Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area has been subjected to various forms of mining. It consists of 68 percent forestland, 27 percent grassland/open land and 5 percent wetlands and ponds.

History & Purpose

Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area was purchased from American Electric Power from 2018 -2021. Before European settlement, this area was virgin forest. Today all of the forests are second or third growth timber. Various forms of coal mining, including strip mining, took place on Appalachian Hills throughout the 20th century. As with other strip-mined lands, Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area affords the opportunity to provide habitat for declining grassland nesting species. Active management activities include managing grassland habitat and annually planting 25 acres of food plots for dove fields. The forested portion of Appalachian Hills is managed for recreational opportunities and will continue to be maintained to offer a diversity of successional stages providing a variety of game and non-game wildlife species.

Wildlife

Largemouth bass and bluegill are the predominant species of fish in the ponds and wetlands. White-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit, turkey, mourning dove, squirrel, and grouse are the principal game species. Also, Appalachian Hills is becoming increasingly popular as a bird watching destination. Many bird species, some rare, are found throughout the unique grassland/brushland landscape.

Recreational Opportunities

Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area is a popular destination for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other forms of wildlife recreation. Scattered ponds which were created through the reclamation process provide fishing prospects for anglers. The combination of woodland, open areas, and islands of vegetation left undisturbed during the mining process creates transitional zones that provide brushy and reverting fields. These areas are prime habitat components that provide excellent hunting opportunities. The diverse nature of the Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area also provides the opportunity for trappers to pursue nearly all Ohio furbearers.

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