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Ohio’s Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program wins national award

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Press Release

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Mineral Resources Management (MRM) has been honored with by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) for its work on the Friendship Park Highwall Reclamation Project.

The National Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Award recognizes the highest-rated reclamation project.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of our AMLER program and excited to be recognized at the national level,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “It showcases the kind of work we do in Ohio, not only to make these formerly mined lands safe but to also breathe new life into the region where people can hike, bike and enjoy the great outdoors.”

The Friendship Park Highwall Reclamation Project eliminated significant public health and safety problems by remediating more than 9,000 linear feet of dangerous highwalls and associated water-filled pit impoundments. Highwalls are steep, exposed cliffs left behind after coal mining. The unstable ground can pose many dangers, including falling rock.

“I’d like to thank our staff and the Friendship Park Board who cooperatively worked together to not just reclaim a mine site, but to create a true asset for the community,” MRM Division Chief Benny McCament said.

The project prioritized adding long-lasting economic and environmental benefits to the community by enhancing recreation opportunities and building diverse habitats for wildlife.

Project accomplishments included:

• Conversion of 27.5 acres of unusable land into safe open space.

• Creation of 1.5 acres of wetlands and 1,800 feet of natural stream channel.

• Construction of 8,070 feet of new trail.

• Improvements to 2,120 feet of existing trail.

• Reforestation of 7.6 acres with more than 5,000 native Ohio trees and shrubs.

• Construction of roosting habitat for Indiana and Northern Long-eared bats.

• Establishment of 4.3 acres of native pollinator/prairie plots.

 "The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards honor the best examples of AML reclamation in our nation,” said OSMRE Deputy Director Glenda Owens. “Our state and Tribal partners work diligently to address health hazards and mitigate environmental problems affecting coal communities. These awards showcase what is possible in reinvigorating those impacted coal communities."

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.

OSMRE carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with States and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.

Established in 1992, the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards recognize exemplary state and Tribal reclamation projects that reclaim coal mine sites abandoned prior to the enactment of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. These projects represent the nation’s highest achievements in abandoned mine land reclamation and demonstrate outstanding results in restoring previously mined lands. The awardees have helped to protect the public through the elimination of public safety and environmental hazards and bolstered local economies by creating new recreation opportunities and protecting local treasures.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at