ODNR to Revitalize Three Potentially Dangerous Areas Through AMLER Program

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will eliminate potential hazards and offer new safe spaces for recreation and tourism in three Ohio communities thanks to new Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program (AMLER) projects announced today. These projects have received preliminary approval from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).

“Cleaning up abandoned mine lands gives us the opportunity to turn something potentially dangerous into something safe and beautiful for people to enjoy,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.  “Each of these projects represent space that can be better used for recreation, for tourism, or to benefit the community’s economy.”

From a new airport hangar to safer trails, ODNR is investing more than $7 million into projects in Coshocton, Perry, and Athens counties.  Projects include:

Richard Downing Airport AMLER Project 

  • Coshocton County – $2 million
  • The Richard Downing Airport was built on an old surface coal mine.  This project includes reclamation of 6,000 feet of dangerous highwall left on the edges of airport property when it was constructed.  The new areas will make airport property safer for visitors.  Additionally, funding will be provided to construct a new 7,040 square foot hangar for overnight storage of aircraft.

Tecumseh Theater AMLER Project 

  • Perry County – $4 million
  • This project will revitalize the historic Tecumseh Theater, popular in the historically coal mining community, in Shawnee, Ohio.  ODNR will also reclaim two abandoned mine land (AML) features on the edge of town.  The goal is to bring the theater back to life and increase tourism, making Shawnee a small-town destination in southeast Ohio.

Buckeye Trail AMLER Project 

  • Perry/Athens County – $2.36 million
  • This project will construct nearly 20 miles of trail through Wayne National Forest that will reroute the trail away from the road between the town of Shawnee and Burr Oak State Park- making it safer and allowing a complete forested hiking experience between those two points.  Nine pedestrian bridges will be built to allow passage over water, and a loop trail will take hikers around Tecumseh Lake.  Three AML features adjacent to the newly routed trail will also be reclaimed.

Each project will need to go through environmental planning and design before final approval by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), and construction activities can begin.

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.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources