Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the Sandusky and Maumee watersheds are beginning to hold meetings for local watershed planning efforts in northwest Ohio, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission is encouraging residents, community organizations, and other interested parties to participate. These local districts applied for and received Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding for reducing nutrients that cause harmful algae blooms in local streams, rivers, and Lake Erie.
“The plans these local watersheds develop are important tools to help clean up Lake Erie and local streams,” said Joy Mulinex, Executive Director of the Commission. “We hope that everyone in these communities will help by sharing their knowledge and opinions on the best places to make improvements.”
The planning will help develop projects to increase the implementation and installation of traditional, new, and innovative conservation practices. Some of these practices might include systems for stemming runoff and drainage tile discharges, saturated buffers in riparian areas, runoff retention wetlands, and new or improved grassed waterways.
These plan-development efforts are locally led by Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Allen, Hardin, Mercer, Putnam, Paulding, Sandusky, Seneca, and Van Wert counties, the City of Defiance, and the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership. Among the meetings already scheduled:
Van Wert County (27 Mile Creek and St. Marys Watershed): August 20, 2019 at 9 a.m. at the Van Wert Soil & Water Conservation District, 1185 Professional Drive.
More meetings will be scheduled soon by the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Anyone wanting to participate should contact one of the sponsoring local soil and water conservation districts or watershed organizations.
The most critical part of the planning process is the involvement of the watershed community. This includes urban and rural land-stakeholders such as the farming community, agricultural commodity groups, industry representatives, local organizations, community leaders, and local governments. These groups are meeting at regular intervals to discuss localized alternatives and develop implementation objectives and projects. Projects included in these approved plans will then be eligible for prioritized funding through programs from both the State and federally delegated funding sources such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Federal Clean Water Act.
The Ohio Lake Erie Commission was established to preserve Lake Erie’s natural resources, protect the quality of its waters and ecosystem, and promote economic development in the region. The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) serves as the commission’s chair. Additional members include the directors of the state departments of Transportation, Health, Development Services, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, as well as five additional members appointed by the Governor.