In 2022, some camps are organising camp experiences for you to participate in. We are hopeful that they will be able to go ahead. Camps will follow the local conditions closely, and may have to cancel activities if the local COVID-19 situation forces them to do so. If you have already signed up for a camp-activity you will be informed when this happens. We will update the website also, when such decisions are taken. Please check your own local authority travel advisory to see if you can travel to or return from the camp after the activity. At all times, when at camps, please observe it’s COVID-19 policy (such as wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, etc). 

Lovely, Kentucky, USA

Camp Appalachian Renewal sits on a 7,000-acre reclaimed surface coal mine site and offers a diversity of ground conditions. Over half of the site consists of forestlands in need of forest stand improvement/restoration. This work includes the removal of suppressed trees, elimination of invasive species and reduction of understory vegetation. The remaining site acreage has been significantly disturbed by surface mining and reclamation. Restoration work in these areas varies, but can include elimination of invasive species, establishment of native grasses and groundcovers, and reforestation activities.

The camp is located near Lovely, Kentucky which has a seasonal climate, with spring, summer, fall and winter periods. On average, there are 162 sunny days per year and 124 days of precipitation mainly in the form of rain; snow is most likely in January, February but typically without periods of sustained accumulation. September, June and May are the most pleasant months in the area, while January and February are the least comfortable.

Who is needed

Our main need is for people able to do field labor. However, as our mission is to develop approaches that can be across mine sites in Appalachia, we are involving interested researchers to assist in measuring the impact of our work. We are also expanding our accommodations to host additional restoration campers so carpenters and other skilled construction workers are of need as well.

Camper opportunities

Camp Appalachian Renewal is in its launch stage! Today you can get involved with wildlife habitat development work – eliminating invasive plant species and introducing native grasses and groundcovers that support wildlife; this includes the development of pollinator habitat regions.

Other camper opportunities include hiking, mountain biking, ATV trail rides, and equestrian encounters.  

What to expect at Camp Appalachian Renewal

  • Foggy mountain mornings
  • Encounters with some of North America’s most spectacular wildlife
  • Basking in an expansive forest wilderness
  • Immersion into one of America’s most distinct and unique cultures
  • A hands-on experience helping to reverse the environmental and social impact sown by the industrial revolution.

Once you settle in, a one week stay at Camp Appalachia Restoration kick-offs with an overview of the overall project and plan, and a description of the restoration work and objectives planned for the coming week. Instruction will be provided on the work methods to be used. For example, in a week where reforestation/tree planting is scheduled, training for planting saplings will be provided. Every day begins with a group breakfast and a debrief. Your team lead will then accompany you to the restoration site and coordinate your efforts for the day. You’ll return to Camp Appalachia Restoration for the evening dinner, and topical discussions on the local ecosystem and culture. You’ll also have time alone for hiking and exploring the surrounding wilderness.

Vision and socio economic context

The camp is operated by The Appalachian Renewal Project as a pilot outpost to demonstrate effective approaches to restore and repurpose similar sites found across Appalachia.

Nearly 1.5 million acres of land in the Appalachian region has been disturbed by surface mining of coal. Reclamation laws lead to practices which stabilize ground conditions, including intense surface grading, heavy compaction of soils, and the establishment of ground covers that establish rapidly. However, the unintended environmental consequences of these practices are now widely observed including:

  • High tree mortality and stunted tree growth
  • A move away from forestry reclamation to hay/pasture land reclamation (due to tree mortality and to more quickly meet SMCRA bond release requirements)
  • Broad introduction of fast growing non-native groundcovers that outcompete native plants leading to pastures overrun with invasive, exotic species
  • Flooding as the result of reduced topsoil water infiltration rates and increased run-off

Although stable, reclaimed Appalachian mine lands are mired in a state of arrested ecological succession, they maintain depleted levels of soil organic carbon (SOC), and offer marginal economic value. The aim of The Appalachian Renewal Project is to demonstrate approaches to return these sites to sustainable, productive use, which begins with large-scale ecosystem restoration.

Acheivements to date

Camp Appalachian Renewal has started restoration on~1,000 acres and has a three-year schedule of work that will begin restoration on a total of ~5,000 acres.

Cost to stay and what's included

$110 per night, including tented accommodation and breakfast

established camp

Seedling Camp

Organising partners


Camping – basic (bring your own tent)
Camping – advanced
Sanitation – basic
Sanitation – advanced
Cellphone/mobile signal
Children’s play facilities
Kitchen – basic

Restoration activities

Water retention
Tree planting
Soil restoration
Community building
Natural building
Fire prevention
Restoration of livelihoods
Restoration holidays

Latest News From The Camp

How to apply

Please complete the form below to express your interest in joining the team at Camp Appalachian Renewal

What you must do to ensure your own safety at an Ecosystem Restoration Camp

Your safety is very important to us. Most camps are in locations that are completely safe for you to travel to. Some camps are in locations where there is civil unrest, higher levels of crime, or in areas where there could be severe nature events (earthquakes, tornados, vulcanic eruptions). We strongly advise you to check with your national authority’s travel advisory service to see if there are specific travel advisories for the region you are travelling to. We strongly advise you to comply with that travel advisory. If there is a negative travel advisory for the area you plan to go to, we want to impress on you that it is your decision to not heed the warnings and go. ERC can then not be liable in that situation if something happens to you.

Work at camps is usually safe. The camp coordinators make your safety their highest priority too. But you will be working with tools and sometimes even (heavy) machinery. Sometimes the terrain can be slightly treacherous. Heat or cold can become a problem for people at work that do not take the necessary measures to prevent injury from weather conditions. Especially in remote locations, all people at an Ecosystem Restoration Camp will need to watch out for eachother’s safety. For this reason we ask you to also sign our Code of Conduct, through which you commit to contributing to a safe environment at camps for all that are there with you. Take yours and all other camper’s safety seriously! Together, while watching over eachother, we can restore our ecosystems safely and successfully.

Contact us:

Stichting Ecosystem Restoration Foundation /
Ecosystem Restoration Camps 2020

Joppelaan 77
7215 AD Joppe
The Netherlands

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