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Southeast Ohio Updates from the Field – June 2023

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Letter from the Regional Director:

OEC Southeast Ohio: June 2023 Updates

Amidst alarming trends of a planet in climate distress, there remains — as always — shimmering rays of promise and wonder springing forth from our region’s vast and ceaseless beauty. 

A week beneath a glowing red sun and hazy skies from wildfire smoke blanketing the eastern U.S. has taken a toll on my lungs and head. Weeks spent hauling water to my gardens, wishing for rains in the driest summer of my recollection has taken a toll on my body and heart.

Still, there are daily causes for celebration — especially around innovative, collaborative projects that uplift, catalyze, and connect the resilience inherent in our watersheds, forests, and people.  

Despite setbacks at the state and federal level preventing policies centered in justice, equity, and sustainability across land, water, energy, and democratic issues; and despite continuing acts of greed from powerful corporations, the strength of our collective voice grows. I hear it rising over everything – in harmony with the calls of Wood Thrushes, Ovenbirds, and Hooded Warblers, and take refuge in the pervasive sense of hope.

With gratitude,

Molly Jo Stanley
Southeast Ohio Regional Director

Regional Events & Opportunities

Rally To Save Salt Fork State Park
Saturday, July 1, 2023 | 12:00 pm
14755 Cadiz Rd, Lore City, OH 43755 – Shelter 1 | 12:00 PM

Salt Fork State Park —Ohio’s largest state park — is under attack. Recently the state announced that the oil and gas industry has nominated Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park, for leasing and fracking. The nomination form shows at least eight proposed fracking well pads encircling the park.

Join us to learn more about how to stop fracking in Ohio state parks, and let everyone know that Ohioian’s care about our beloved Salt Fork State Park.

Click here to RSVP for the Rally to Save Salt Fork State Park

True Pigments Truetown Groundbreaking
Thursday, June 29, 2023
Truetown Site Access Point, FV2W+F5Q, Millfield, OH 45761 | 10:00 am – 12:00 PM

Join Rural Action in celebrating the True Pigments building groundbreaking with partners from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio University. True Pigments uses iron oxide from acid mine drainage – a byproduct of some coal mining operations – in  Appalachian streams and turns them into pigments for paint and other products in Ohio. Click here to register to support this sustainable Ohio business as they move into a new phase in their company.  

Buckeye TrailFest
August 17-20, 2023
Shawnee State Forest

The Buckeye Trail Association’s Appalachian Foothills Chapter will host the 10th Annual Buckeye TrailFest! Join the Buckeye Trail Association and hikers from around Ohio for led and self-led hikes on the Buckeye Trail and other trails. Learn from the Trail Crew what it takes to build and maintain the trail. Meet other hikers and trail maintainers during a weekend of hiking, workshops, presentations, and conversation around the campfire.  

Click here to register

Regional Updates

TAKE ACTION: Speak up for Ohio State Parks

The end of last month marked the start of a leasing “nomination” process for Ohio’s state parks and public lands before the Oil & Gas Land Management Commission. The state recently announced that the oil and gas industry has nominated Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park, for leasing and substantial fracking. 

Public comment is one of our most important tools for protecting our parks in this new nomination and leasing process. The public has 45 days to comment on each nomination after it is announced. Public comments on the Salt Fork nomination are due by July 20th. The OEC is preparing a detailed example comment for the Salt Fork nomination that we will share with you in the coming weeks.

You can also write your own comment on the Salt Fork nomination now. To do so, please submit your comment via email to the Commission Clerk at and include the following statement in your email subject line: “Public Comments on Nomination #: 23-DNR-0005, 0006, 0007.” 

Salt Fork is Ohio’s largest state park and one of our most important public lands. Now is the time to stand up for our protection of our public lands and the peace that they bring to all Ohioans.

CELEBRATE: Buckeye Trail Association Honored at the OEC Green Gala

The annual Green Gala provides the opportunity for environmental champions around the state to come together, build our path ahead, and celebrate the accomplishments that bring us hope and inspiration.

This year, the OEC recognized the Buckeye Trail Association with the Forest Champion Award, celebrating an organization that epitomizes the strength of connectivity: connectivity to our communities, to each other, and to Ohio’s vast and wondrous ecosystems.

I have had the privilege to work with the Buckeye Trail’s New Straitsville Chapter to support the annual Blue Blaze Festival, a growing trail run; hiking and backpacking trip; and community festival raising funds for this portion of the trail and bringing folks together in beautiful Shawnee, Ohio to celebrate, support, and advocate for this treasure that connects us all in so many powerful ways.

TAKE ACTION: Speak Up for Our National Forests

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management recently launched a process with the potential to provide critical protections for mature and old-growth forests. Now until July 20, you can tell these agencies why our public forests deserve to be preserved.

Mature and old-growth forests are our first line of defense against climate change’s impacts. If we protect our older trees, we benefit from their unmatched ability to capture and store carbon from our atmosphere — carbon that would otherwise worsen the climate crisis. These forests are also vital to ecosystem health. They offer habitat critical to slowing catastrophic loss of biodiversity. They provide clean air and drinking water for communities, and are fundamental in supporting the growing outdoor recreation economy, especially in Ohio, where our forests are only just beginning to recover from two centuries of heavy extraction and deforestation.

When the Wayne National Forest began its forest plan assessment in 2018, research and comments by a local working group grew into a campaign pushing for a landscape-scale climate preserve and outdoor recreation hub. Wayne National Forest is still currently managed under its 2006 plan, but these federal announcements might just provide the conditions necessary to center our forests in the fight against climate change, once and for all.

What the U.S. Forest Service decides to do next largely depends on supporters like you. In order to ensure that Ohio’s forests are managed so they can grow to their full, old-growth, landscape-scale potential, it is crucial that Ohioans speak out on behalf of our public lands. Let the U.S. Forest Service know: Ohio’s trees are worth more standing.

LEARN: Appalachian Watershed Council

In May, OEC Water Fellow Emily Kelly joined me in the Village of Chauncey for the Appalachian Ohio Watershed Council meeting. Emily provided a thorough and helpful update to the group on local, state, and federal level water policy work. 

After the regular meeting, this outstanding, engaged regional coalition visited the American Eel Preserve (Hocking River Commission) to remove trash, mitigate invasive plant species, plant Spicebush Trees, and walk the 32-acre parcel along the Sunday Creek/Hocking River confluence. To learn more about the watershed council, click here.

OEC Updates

GET OUT THE VOTE: Vote No on Issue 1 on August 8

Our ability to fight for a healthy environment is directly impacted by Issue 1, which will make it harder for Ohio voters to fight for clean air, land, water, and democracy through future ballot initiatives. 

Issue 1 shreds Ohio’s Constitution, ending majority rule and taking away our right to decide what happens in our state. 

The bottom line is that we all want the freedom to make decisions that affect our lives. Ballot initiatives let us exercise that freedom. We must protect that right by showing up with all of our friends and family to the polls to VOTE NO on Issue 1 in August. 

Pledge to Vote No on Issue 1 and share our voter guide with your network.