OHIO’S ONLY NATIONAL FOREST
In November of 1934, during the throes of the Great Depression, the State of Ohio passed legislation to establish the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio. The United States Forest Service quickly mobilized to stem erosion, reforest the land with massive tree plantings, and prevent wildfires. Central to this effort was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was a result of FDR’s New Deal and FDR’s personal quest in helping to bring the ethic of conservation and stewardship to the forefront of American consciousness. The CCC played an instrumental role in helping to develop forest access roads, erect fire towers, and communication lines, and construct recreational facilities. In fact, one physical artifact in the Wayne that is a harbinger of the CCC effort is the numerous pine plantations scattered throughout the LCBD region. Pines are not native to Ohio and were planted by the CCC as a way to help stabilize the soil and quickly replenish the nutrients back into the ground. The pine plantations stand as a physical testament to the legacy and work of the CCC. Interestingly, the CCC boys also partnered with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to unsuccessfully dig trenches to help put out mine fires that were ignited during the Great Hocking Valley Coal Strike of 1884-1885. Coupled with the ongoing efforts of the USFS and contributions from dedicated and passionate community members, the forest is now filled with vibrant second-growth mixed hardwoods that attract visitors from all over to visit to view the splendor and awe of Ohio’s only National Forest.
A RIVER (CREEK) RUNS THROUGH IT
In addition to the federal government establishing the Wayne National Forest, passionate community members throughout the microregion banded together and partnered with Rural Action, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Forest Service to help restore the Sunday and Monday Creek watersheds to their natural state. Through this collaborative, place-based, community effort the spirit of conservation can be seen. The story of Sunday and Monday Creek restoration efforts is one that is emblematic of the ingenuity and deep love of place locals have for the LCBD microregion. In the LCBD region, there is a self-reliant spirit that permeates through the people and the land that comprise this region.
The watersheds have been revitalized and now sustain an array of aquatic life. Evoking the Appalachian trademark of resiliency and having an unwavering love of place, the Sunday and Monday Creek waters now teme with crawdads, frogs, and other aquatic life.
The Monday Creek Restoration Project and the Sunday Creek Watershed Group are two instrumental organizations, through Rural Action, that work to enhance the quality of both watersheds and to reinvigorate the streams and creeks throughout the region. In addition, carrying on the LCBD educational ethic both the MCRP and the SCWG provide public education demonstrating lessons of stewardship and instilling the ethic of conservation in future generations of the LCBD community.
FROM EXPLOITATION TO RECREATION
The LCBD region provides a landscape that is recovering, reinvigorating, and robust. The story of LCBD’s landscape is a quintessential Appalachian story. Once exploited and extracted for the amount of coal that could be mined out of the land, the landscape and the aesthetic and restorative qualities it exudes provides a great natural asset to the region. The Wayne National Forest, coupled with the creeks and streams that meander through the land provide ample outdoor recreational opportunity thus allowing visitors a chance to fully immerse themselves in a land that still possesses the scars of its past, but is a beacon to a more sustainable and just way forward. The LCBD region and the village of Shawnee is the proud home of the Buckeye Trail Assiocation’s (BTA) headquarters. The BTA traverses much of the LCBD region and is a great way to experience the natural splendor and history of the landscape. After exploring the LCBD Archives, headover next door and pay the BTA visit!