About the Watershed

Your Watershed

ProjectsMapWhat is a watershed?

1.an area characterized by all runoff being conveyed to the same outlet.
2.the region or area drained by a river, stream, etc.; drainage area.
3.the area of land that water flows over and under on its way to a single river.

In the Raccoon Creek watershed, water makes its way to the creek as it flows down from the hills; across forestland, farm fields, residential lawns, village streets; and underneath the soil as ground water.

Raccoon Creek is one of Ohio’s Longest Streams!

The Raccoon Creek watershed covers 683.5 square miles in six different counties (Athens, Hocking, Vinton, Jackson, Meigs, and Gallia). The headwaters of Raccoon Creek join near the village of New Plymouth in northern Vinton County, and eventually drain into the Ohio River downstream from Gallipolis. From the confluence, the stream travels 112 miles through the Wayne National Forest, Zaleski State Forest, and several towns and villages, such as Carbondale, McArthur, Rio Grande, Vinton, Wellston and Wilkesville.

Seventy to seventy-five percent of the watershed is forested. People have used the remaining land for crops and pastures, as urban areas, for resource extraction and for other uses.

The steep hillsides, narrow valleys and highly erodible soils in this unglaciated region means that only about 20 to 25 percent of the land is fit for agricultural activity. Most farming happens in the river’s floodplain, and most farms are located in the rich soil and flatter landscape of the southern portion of the watershed. In fact, Bob Evans Farms is located in Gallia County.

Many people use the public lands in the watershed for hiking, fishing, boating, hunting and bird watching.

Be sure to view our Fishing, Wildlife, Public Lands, and Raccoon Creek Water Trail Association Pages for recreational opportunities throughout Raccoon Creek Watershed!

The Raccoon Creek Watershed at a Glance

  • The 683.5 square mile Raccoon Creek Watershed encompasses portions of Athens, Hocking, Vinton, Jackson, Meigs and Gallia counties.
  • Raccoon Creek discharges into the Ohio River in Gallia County, Ohio, and is 112 miles long.
  • The elevation of Raccoon Creek ranges from 1,015 feet at the highest point, the source of Brushy Creek, to 518 feet at the lowest, the mouth in Gallia County.
  • The geology in the watershed is generally consistent with repeating sequences of clay, coal, shale, limestone and sandstone.
  • The watershed contains about 25,610 acres of underground mines and 21,550 acres of surface mines. In the headwaters alone, there are 1,100 acres of abandoned surface mines and 110 acres of abandoned coal refuse piles.
  • ODNR Map of underground and surface mines in Ohio (historic and present day)
  • Known sources of impairment to Raccoon Creek and its tributaries are acid mine drainage, wastewater treatment facilities, industry, non-irrigated crop production, removal of riparian vegetation, and oil and gas operations.
  • The population centers of the watershed include Wellston in Jackson County with 5,600 residents, McArthur in Vinton County with 1,700, and Rio Grande in Gallia County with 800.
  • More than 20 partnering organizations are involved in restoring Raccoon Creek, our partners, and more than 250 citizens participated in the public meeting process.

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