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Abandoned Mine Lands Restored to Improve Watershed Health in Ohio

Posted by Pamela Stachler, Forest Hydrogeologist, U.S. Forest Service Eastern Region in Forestry
May 31, 2012
Water quality is monitored by volunteers with the Monday Creek Restoration Project. MCRP photo.
Water quality is monitored by volunteers with the Monday Creek Restoration Project. MCRP photo.

For nearly a century, the aquatic life that once thrived in the Monday Creek Watershed has been virtually dead. The goal of this Recovery Act project, known as "Devastation to Destination," is to construct a healthy functioning riparian corridor, restore water quality, and create an integrated land management strategy resulting in species diversity among existing aquatic and wildlife habitats. It is located in Perry County between the towns of New Straitsville and Shawnee, Ohio.

The drainage was heavily impacted by underground mining activities in the late 1800's and again in the mid 1900's from strip mining. The drainages were blocked by piles of old mine waste and soils. The estimated 60 million gallons of water that falls here in a typical year ends up in the old mines, producing acid mine drainage which is toxic to aquatic life and has a harmful effect on the adjacent riparian vegetation.

Over the last fifteen years, the Wayne National Forest and our partners have worked together to restore the watershed, which encompasses 75,000 acres in three counties. In addition to interpreting the natural history of the area, the Forest Service also has the opportunity to educate the public about the importance of continued cleanup of old abandoned mine lands.

Numerous features are incorporated in the project’s clean-up activities including: opening all blocked drainages and allowing the water to flow freely from the site, creating a prairie meadow on the upper slope of the site, building a pond stocked by Ohio Department of Natural Resources with three species of fish, and planting approximately 1,300 native species suitable for each habitat created.

Partners in the project include: Heavy Equipment Management Program at Hocking College, Monday Creek Restoration Project, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Little Cities of Black Diamonds .

Communities living along the main stream are now enjoying a renewed sense of pride in their environment, as evidenced by attending partner meetings, participating in volunteer initiatives, and educational outreach programs.

Category/Topic: Forestry