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Watershed board hears from Muskingum River supporters

Published: April 9, 2012 9:16 AM

Supporters of the former Muskingum River Advisory Council are reaching out to potential partners for ideas and support to continue their mission to optimize and improve conditions along and around the river.

Duane R. Meyers of Coshocton told members of the Board of Directors of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District during a recent meeting that although the Ohio General Assembly ended the states official recognition of the 16-member volunteer MRAC last year, interest remains high among the group to continue meeting and discussing ideas and possible programs and projects.

We believe strongly that the Muskingum River Advisory Council can continue to play a valuable role in the overall health and viability of the river and its communities, said Meyers, who had been appointed to the MRAC by Coshocton County commissioners several years ago. He said MRAC members identified the MWCD, which was a charter member of the MRAC, as a potential partner and supporter for future objectives.

Meyers was joined at the meeting by Brian Stiteler, a Coshocton city firefighter and former MRAC member appointed by the City of Coshocton, along with MRAC supporters Ray Butch and Margaret Collins of Zanesville. Butch Collins is the captain of the Lorena riverboat at Zanesville and they are members of the Zanesville Yacht Club.

Meyers told MWCD Board members that the river advisory council has discussed its future briefly since the Ohio General Assembly action, and while it has made no decisions on how it will operate, there is a shared commitment to continue in some form. He proposed that the MWCD could become a partner of the MRAC, adding that details could be discussed in upcoming weeks and months.

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John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary, served as the MWCDs representative on the MRAC for many years. He said the MWCD staff will continue to communicate with the other former MRAC members to determine what kind of assistance the MWCD can provide as the group outlines its future meetings and programs.

Hopefully we can assist the MRAC members to help form a positive outlet for the continued collaboration of the interests of Muskingum River communities, Hoopingarner said. It is evident that there is a strong interest in continuing meetings and discussions of subjects of interest among the members.

Meyers said the MRAC had focused primarily in recent years on providing a forum for state and local officials to communicate with one another in quarterly meetings about river-related issues and to keep the state updated on what activities were happening at the city and county levels.

Other items of discussion by the MRAC had been on maximizing navigation opportunities and the overall health of the river, he added. The system of 11 locks and dams on the Muskingum River is the only completely hand-operated system in the United States.

For information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.

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