The Raccoon Creek watershed boasts a wealth of land open to the public in the form of National Forests, State Forest, State Parks, and Wildlife Areas.
Of the 180,000 acres in The Wayne National Forest, about 7,270 acres lie in the watershed. The federal government is a large public landowner in southeast Ohio, and the forest attracts visitors from many surrounding states for fishing, hunting and other recreational activities. Wildlife species that are common in the forest and throughout the watershed include white-tailed deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, gray squirrel, opossum and gray fox.
State Forests and State Parks
A variety of forests, lakes and wildlife areas within the watershed allow residents diverse opportunities for recreation, hunting or outdoor activities. Zaleski State Forest, covering about 28,000 acres in Vinton and Athens counties, is the second largest state forest in Ohio and contains a 23.5-mile backpack trail, a 50-mile horse trail and a hunting camp. State forests, owned and managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, provide multiple public benefits that include being a source of aesthetics, forest products, recreational opportunities, quality streams and diverse wildlife habitats.
The 3,103-acre Lake Hope State Park lies within the Zaleski State Forest and is an example of how tourism can both stimulate the local economy and preserve historic and cultural artifacts. Located in the heart of the Hanging Rock Region, a section of Ohio and Kentucky known for its iron ore, the park’s Hope Furnace was a bustling center of activity more than a century ago. Buyers of the resulting iron used the product for many purposes, including ammunition for Union troops in the Civil War (Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Lake Hope). By 1900, many of Ohio’s furnaces had shut down, including Hope Furnace. Fuel for furnaces like this consumed much of the forests of Ohio, as did farming, so many of the trees growing now are relatively young. The foundation and chimney are all that remain of the Hope Furnace today.
Lake Alma State Park, located one mile northeast of Wellston, contains 219 acres surrounding the 63-acre lake. Visitors can fish, hunt, hike, picnic, swim and camp in the park.
Within the watershed, there are four Wildlife Areas and one Public Hunting area managed by the Division of Wildlife. These areas are open to the public for wildlife and bird watching, fishing, and hunting. Maps and descriptions of each are available at the following links:
Wellston Wildlife Area located in Vinton County has 1,298 acres (which includes the 325-acre Lake Rupert) on which public fishing and hunting is allowed.
Waterloo Wildlife Area located in Athens County has 1,522 acres on which public fishing and hunting is allowed. Waterloo Wildlife Area holds the former Ohio Department of Natural Resources Waterloo Wildlife Research Station. The area, established in 1944, had been used primarily for studying squirrels to determine the duration and intensity of squirrel hunting in the state (Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Waterloo Wildlife Area). The area is adjacent to Zaleski State Forest and is prime ground for turkey and deer hunting. Future plans for the area include the Raccoon Creek Partnership Waterloo Aquatic Education Center.
Tycoon Lake Wildlife Area located in Gallia County has 684 acres available for public fishing and hunting. The wildlife area has habitat for both upland and forest game and limited waterfowl hunting. A boat ramp and parking is open to the public.
Cooper Hollow Wildlife Area in Jackson County has 5,421 acres for public hunting and fishing.
Buckeye Furnace Mining Company Public Hunting Area in Jackson County has 1,034 acres for public hunting and fishing.
To view maps for all of Ohio’s Wildlife Areas, visit the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Areas page.