In 1965, the Division of Reclamation teamed up with the Division of Forestry to form a new Division of Forestry and Reclamation. During that time, the division took responsibility for mine reclamation areas in Perry County, Jefferson County, and Harrison County.
These areas contained approximately 8,000 acres of badly damaged, unreclaimed strip-mined land in desperate need of rehabilitation. When changes in coal mining laws forced a separation into two divisions in 1973, the Division of Forestry retained responsibility for these “new” state forest areas and has since maintained stewardship.
Today, efforts continue between the Division of Forestry and the ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management to return Ohio's strip-mined land to thriving forests. The Division of Mineral Resources Management's reforestation program fosters a low cost alternative utilizing funds from a state funded Abandoned Mine Land program to reduce the erosion and to restore watersheds.
Reforestation is a viable reclamation method for reclamation of abandoned mine lands and for grassland-reclaimed sites. Planting trees diversifies the site for wildlife and recreation, and provides watershed protection. By itself, or in combination with the placement of sediment control structures on severely eroding sites, reforestation is an economical alternative to traditional reclamation
Since 1982, the Division has planted more than 6.5 million trees on 5,400 acres of mostly privately owned land. The preferred sites consist of barren or poorly vegetated spoil banks from strip mines and abandoned coal refuse piles. Approximately 66 percent of the trees planted in Ohio have been inoculated with a naturally occurring fungus that enables the tree to tolerate a low soil pH, drought conditions and high spoil temperatures. It also increases the tree's ability to absorb water and nutrients.
These inoculated seedlings are placed only on sites that have acidic spoils and are well drained. This inoculation has resulted in a seedling survival rate of 75 percent in a very harsh mine spoil setting. The state's tree nursery in Marietta is one of only a few facilities in the eastern United States producing such inoculated seedlings. Ohio's reforestation program has planted nearly 300,000 seedlings per year since its inception with nearly two-thirds treated with the fungus.
Both divisions also participate in the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative. The program's goal is to plant more high-value hardwood trees on reclaimed coal mined lands in Appalachia and increase the survival rates and growth rates of planted trees.