A cutting-edge environmental project that has bridged the gap between industry and ecology, American Electric Power’s (AEP) ReCreation Land is Southeast Ohio’s one-stop site for almost every outdoor recreational activity. From camping to hunting and everything in between, ReCreation Land is Ohio’s icon for enjoyment al fresco, but it hasn’t always been.
Formerly the coal strip mining site for Central Ohio Coal Company, an AEP subsidiary, these lands were once heavily mined for their rich coal deposits. Throughout the mid-century mining years, more than 2 billion cubic yards of earth were destructively removed, harvesting 100 million tons of coal.
AEP, through its corporate-wide Environmental Leadership Goal initiative, revived the coal mining lands by transforming the area into a public recreation park. The project is one of AEP’s best-known symbols of environmental action and has been widely recognized on a national level.
“We wanted to make this land available to the public…to put the land to good use,” AEP Recreation Program Administrator, Dave Dingey, says.
Spanning many communities across Morgan County, ReCreation Land’s 34,000 acres now harbor 63 million trees and more than 350 lakes and ponds. The lands also contain 380 campsites and offers several outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking and hunting for visitors to enjoy.
On the lands, visitors will find a 14-mile Buckeye Trail for hiking, as well as an Equine Trail Area that was developed under a partnership with the Ohio Horsemen’s Council. Additionally, designated hunting areas are available on the grounds where deer, wild turkeys and mushrooms are commonly hunted. In an AEP partnership with the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization, a ten-mile mountain biking trail was also built across ReCreation Land. The trail is complete with long climbs, rocky sections and creek crossings, designed with intermediate to advanced riders in mind.
“You can do just about anything on the land,” Dingey says. Dingey works with three foresters and several contractors to ensure the land is being properly managed and appropriately used for recreational activities and events. He strives to foster AEP partnerships with other organizations, such as local scout troops, church groups and the National Wild Turkey Federation, to host seasonal events for the groups on AEP’s grounds.
“We just want to serve the public…the land offers great outdoor experiences where everyone can have a good time,” Dingey says.
What once was land devastated by coal mining,, ReCreation Land is now a favorite vacation spot, “recreated” to be a public recreational area and serving as a home to a number of wildlife species. More than 100,000 people visit the land each year to soak up all its natural beauty. A visit to ReCreation Land this summer will satisfy your craving for adventure and excitement in the great outdoors.