CUMBERLAND, Ohio (WJW) — Former strip mine land along the Interstate 70 corridor is being transformed into a “first of its kind” camping spot in southeastern Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday unveiled plans for a new 59-acre campground for The Wilds, a Columbus Zoo safari in Guernsey County, to be funded by a state program to revitalize abandoned mine land.
Plans include 46 concrete pads for RVs or large trailers, 27 stone parking areas for primitive campers and nearly 2 miles of new roads connecting to a public road.
Construction began in August. ODNR’s portion of the project is expected to finish in November. The total cost is estimated to be more than $2.1 million.
“It has been exciting to see this conservation and recreation project come together,” Gov. Mike DeWine is quoted in a Friday news release from ODNR. “Not only will this transformation make a once potentially hazardous area safe, but it also opens The Wilds up for more people to experience and enjoy.”
It’s the first step toward creating an “ecotourism corridor” between several state parks and trails including Salt Fork State Park, the Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area, Burr Oak State Park and parts of the Buckeye Trail, according to a news release.
“We are working on a plan that will create an unparalleled outdoor experience within reach of all Ohioans,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz is quoted in the release. “By connecting such amazing outdoor areas, we hope to open up a way for people to find their own adventure in any one of the parks or wildlife areas.”
It’s not the only part of the state whose empty mine lands are being reclaimed. In Jefferson County, the Friendship Park Highwall Reclamation added new acres of park land, hiking trails and wetlands for wildlife habitats. In Harrison County, more than 2,200 feet of dangerous highwall were removed through Sally Buffalo Park projects to expand campground facilities.