The Wilds. Credit: Stephen Conn
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About the Mining Restoration in The Wilds ReLeaf Project:

American Forests and the Hardwood Forestry Fund are reforesting 10 acres of The Wilds, popular recreational area in Cumberland, Ohio, with 7,000 red oak, chestnut oak, black walnut, sugar maple and tulip poplar to restore lands damaged by surface mining.

Global ReLeaf provides forests like this — and the communities that depend on them — with the restoration they need to thrive. Since 1990, American Forests has brought ReLeaf to forests in all 50 states and 45 countries, planting more than 45 million trees in the process.

ReLeaf Location:

The Wilds Wildlife Conservation Center, Cumberland, Ohio

Key ReLeaf Activities:

  • Planting 7,000 trees across 10 acres of a popular recreational conservation center
  • Reclaiming lands damaged by surface mining activities
  • Educating visitors about the importance of healthy forests

Why This ReLeaf Project?

Because of the extensive mining history at The Wilds, sites that were completely forested have since existed as open grassland, with only a few pockets of healthy forest remaining.

This project is planting two additional five-acre hardwood forests to restore these lands to health and educate up to 110,000 visitors to The Wilds each year about the importance of healthy forest habitats. These lands are also home to many native species such as osprey, bobcats and wild turkey, some of which are threatened or endangered.

Why Reclaimed Minefields?

Surface mining activities cause soils to become heavily compacted by the massive machinery used to cover and re-contour the landscape. At the project sites, soil horizons have been heavily disturbed, the hydrology has been altered and the organic matter in the topsoil has been largely lost. In addition, the soils are very rocky, often containing large boulders.

All of these factors create less-than-ideal growing conditions for many trees, making restoration difficult. Projects such as this one are needed to further our knowledge of how these lands can be restored and to act as educational tools for looking at effective planting methods on reclaimed minefields.

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