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Southeast Ohio Updates from the Field – January

Letter from the Regional Director:

OEC Southeast Ohio: January 2023 Updates


I’ve heard a lot of good jokes about the month of January and how grueling it can be; this year certainly has been offering its tests to our willpower.  With cold, wet thunderstorms and short bouts of freezing temperatures, it’s not the easiest weather to love — and perhaps more concerning is that it’s thunderstorming in January at all.  

In the absence of a deep winter freeze, and the untimely arrival of warm weather, I can’t help but wonder about the impacts on our local ecosystems, and our most vulnerable communities in the shifting demands of our fragile climate.

While I pay close attention to the concerns and the challenges, I hold onto gratitude and hope.  Already, in this month of January, I have counted over 8 days of beautiful, sunny skies; I have watched the neighborhood Bald Eagle soaring overhead; on the few frigid, snowy days, I have followed Bobcat and Fox tracks through the snow and imagined their winter adventures; and I have seen countless reminders of the tenacious, creative, generous human spirit offered up in inspiring art, nourishing food, and moving music.  

May you be filled with hope and comfort in these lengthening days, and be surrounded by reminders of the resilience inherent in these Appalachian Foothills.


Molly Jo Stanley
Southeast Ohio Regional Director

Regional Events & Opportunities:

Women of Appalachia Project Fine Art Exhibition

January 13 – March 19, 2023

Dairy Barn Arts Center (8000 Dairy Ln, Athens, OH 45701)

As it is so beautifully articulated on their website, “The Women of Appalachia Project™ encourages participation from women of diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to come together, inviting submissions of spoken word and fine art, shared in public forums and annual anthologies. Artists share culture and experiences at arranged venues, embrace issues of marginalization and stereotype; creating a force, unified and non-violently confrontational, to show the whole woman, beyond superficial factors often used to judge her.” Learn more.

Athens Conservancy Groundhog Hike

February 5, 2023 | 12 PM

Strouds Run State Park – Bulldog Shelter

Join the Athens Conversancy for their annual Groundhog Hike. Warm up with coffee and hot chocolate or by the fire before heading out for either the short or the long Groundhog Hike. You can join the experts on these guided hikes or use the maps to fly solo. Save the date!

BRRRRR Oak Winter Hike

February 11, 2023 | 10 AM

Burr Oak State Park

The Buckeye Trail Association will host a few hiking options – including one mile, three mile,  five mile, or eight mile hikes – at the beautiful Burr Oak Lake. Explore winter forests and rock outcroppings before returning to warm up by a fire. The one mile hike will be an interpretive hike with Burr Oak State Park Naturalist, Julie Gee! Find this event and more.

Inaugural Tree Hugging Competition

February 11, 2023 | 10 AM – 12 PM

Lake Hope State Park Nature Center

Join this free, fun-spirited competition, sampled from a 2020 international competition in Finland, and share your love for nature by vying for the Speed-hugging, Biggest Hug, Most Dedicated, and Freestyle tree hugging awards. Participation is intended to help you “tap into the benefits that forests have for our mind and body.” Add it to your calendar.

Uplifting Diversity Weekend Tour

February 17-19, 2023 

Federal Valley Resource Center (8225 OH-329, Stewart, OH 45778)

Join Appalachian Understories to discover the rich and vibrant history of Stewart, Ohio and surrounding communities. This is a weekend-long experience that will be both a celebration and a recognition of our history. Learn about the future of Black entrepreneurship and community in the region and hear stories from people of African descent who played a significant role in local history. Learn more. 

Captina Conservancy Winter Hike 

February 18, 2023 | 1 PM

Raven Rocks (54099 Crum Road, Beallsville, Ohio)

Join Captina Conservancy for a 3-mile, moderate hike through the beautiful ravines at Ravens Rock with snacks and hot drinks provided. Get all the details.

Regional Updates:

Exhibit: Ohio’s First Humanists: Native Americans from Mound Building to Modern Voices

Ohio University’s Charles J. Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities, in collaboration with the Athens Department of Arts, Parks and Recreation and the Athens County Public Libraries, is currently featuring an exhibit tracing more than 40 native peoples histories and contributions in the Southeast Ohio regions through everything from huge earthworks to modern art. This exhibit comes at a time when Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio could gain world heritage status and draws attention to the complexity of history and our relationship to land. Learn more.

Athens Receives awards from Power A Clean Future Ohio

The City of Athens and Athens County took some major steps for climate action this year, including passing a carbon fee that finances a public solar fund, implementing a 100% clean energy aggregation program, and committing to reduce emissions by at least 30% below 2010 levels by 2030. Power A Clean Future (PCFO) recognized these specific accomplishments by recently awarding The City of Athens its Clean Energy Innovator Award and The City of Athens and Athens County its Clean Energy Community Award and Climate Action Community Award. Read more and learn about PCFO.

Dysart Woods now a part of Captina Conservancy 

At the end of December, Captina Conservancy announced that they will be the new owner and steward of Dysart Woods, a National Natural Landmark since 1967. They purchased 242 acres of unprotected land at Dysart Wood from Ohio University using Clean Ohio Green Space Grant funds, and Ohio University then donated 189 extra acres containing old-growth forests. Ohio University also donated 90% of the purchase price back into a maintenance fund for Dysart Woods. Captina Conservancy has big short and long term goals for this land. Read their press release to learn more.

Invisible Ground vinyl compilation release

Invisible Ground, a podcast and augmented reality history project based in Athens, Ohio, is releasing a vinyl compilation featuring music from the podcast to raise funds to continue this great Southeast Ohio multimedia storytelling project. Using immersive historical markers, a podcast series, and music, Invisible Grounds tells the “stories of southeast Ohio communities and their people, places, and events to connect to bigger themes in our region and far beyond.” Donate to claim your vinyl release now.

The Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) selected by AEP Energy 

AEP Energy announced that SOPEC will be the exclusive governmental electric aggregator in Ohio for new communities seeking aggregation, which means communities can save money on energy while investing in 100% renewable energy. SOPEC currently serves the cities of Amesville, Athens, Belpre, Logan, and more. Read the full story. 

Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count was a success! 

Although the results aren’t fully recorded yet (check back here for updates), the 123rd annual bird count was a joyful experience for bird lovers here in Southeastern Ohio who noted many highlights, but were particularly excited when, as they were about to put away their binoculars and notepads, they spotted a Bald Eagle. What a great close to this year’s count! Read entries about the Christmas Bird Count.

OEC Updates:

Continuing the push for accountability to end energy bribery

This month marked the beginning of the trial against former Republican Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. He is accused of accepting bribes from FirstEnergy to pass House Bill 6, a coal power plant bailout that made it harder to increase clean energy and energy efficiency in Ohio. This trial started right after news was breaking that dark money funded the passage of House Bill 507. We fought this bill, which wrongly classifies natural gas as “green energy” and opens our state parks to more oil and gas drilling, but the Ohio legislature passed and Governor DeWine signed it into law at the beginning of this year. 

The fossil fuel industry has a lot of money moving here in Ohio, and it’s clear we need more transparency and accountability. With the power of your voices and the strength of our coalitions, the OEC is pushing for policy that puts Ohioans’ interests over the interests of industry insiders.

Gaining historic protections for an important Ohio creek

We are seeking to gain Ohio’s first-ever Outstanding National Resource Waters designation—the highest level of protections afforded under the Clean Water Act—for an Ohio creek that is home to important endangered aquatic species under threat by rapid development. Take action today to speak up for the Big and Little Darby Creeks!