WEST JEFFERSON, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) today celebrated the purchase of two more properties along the Little Darby Creek State and National Scenic River. ODNR Director Mary Mertz joined staff from the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves and Scenic Rivers Program to tour the newly protected land in Madison County.
“The state of Ohio has some of the best and most scenic rivers in the country and we are doing everything we can to guard these natural resources,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said. “By protecting the areas around these waterways, we are expanding recreation space, protecting critical habitat, and keeping waters clean for future generations of Ohioans to enjoy.”
These properties, near other land protected through ODNR and the Nature Conservancy, create a 300-acre block of land that safeguards Little Darby Creek as well as nearby tributaries and streams. This area- made up of prairie, wetlands, and wooded bluffs – is home to rare plant species and a beautiful spring wildflower display. Rare and endangered mussel species including the federally endangered clubshell mussel are also found in the Little Darby.
“To have healthy rivers, it’s important to take good care of the lands around them,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We will ensure these acres are well cared for so they can keep the water clean, slow erosion, help prevent flooding, and give wildlife a place to thrive.”
The land was purchased through a $548,000 grant from the Ohio Water Development Authority’s and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s, Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program. The Scenic Rivers Program will have more than $150,000 in additional funds under the grant to conduct ecological restoration on both properties including invasive species removal and tree planting.
These acquisitions bring the Scenic Rivers Program’s total protected acreage in the Little Darby Creek corridor to over 1,100 acres at a total investment of approximately $2,965,000 in that watershed alone. Statewide, it brings the total protected acreage along with the state’s 15 designated wild, scenic, and recreational rivers to more than 6,500 acres and a total investment of more than $6,000,000. Much of the funding for acquisition comes from various state and federal grant programs.
The mission of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program is to work cooperatively with local communities and other partners to facilitate the protection of Ohio’s remaining highest quality waterways. The properties protected through the Scenic Rivers Program are open to low impact recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, paddler access, and wildlife observation in a natural, undeveloped setting.