Little Beaver advisory council recognized by state

LISBON –Two years after the state proposed eliminating local wild and scenic river advisory councils, the organizations were recently recognized in Columbus on the 50th anniversary of their creation.

The local organization — the Little Beaver Creek Wild & Scenic Advisory Council — was among the first created after the state legislature passed the Scenic River Act in February 1968. The group met this week with Columbiana County commissioners, who adopted a resolution acknowledging its creation and the local advisory council’s efforts over the past 50 years to preserve and protect the creek.

“We’re going to continue to work with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on issues to protect the LBC,” said Brad Bosley, advisory council chairman.

The 1968 act eventually led to 14 rivers and streams in Ohio being designated as Ohio wild, scenic and recreational rivers, which affords them special protection. The Little Beaver Creek was the first to be so designated and is only one of three in Ohio to also be designated a National Wild and Scenic River.

Advisory councils receive no state funding, and their members are unpaid. The council has no legal authority and its chief function is to advise the state by serving as the local watchdog over the Little Beaver Creek.

Bosley said they work not only with the ODNR but the county Soil and Water Conservation District (SWD) to protect the creek and its tributaries. For example, in 2016 the SWD determined sediment from a logging operation was washing into a tributary of the North Fork of the creek. The SWD required the operators to implement a series of actions to stop the erosion.

The SWD’s Josh Emanuelson said they work with loggers and farmers in particular to prevent sediment and agricultural run off from finding its way into the creek or its tributaries. In those instances, he said they will work with the logger and farmer to take steps needed to prevent erosion.

In some instances the SWD is able to find state or federal funding to help farmers address the problem.

“There are a number of programs we can use to help landowners,” Emanuelson said.

The advisory council is also assisted in its protection efforts by the non-profit Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the state’s largest land trust. The WRLC merged in 2013 with the Little Beaver Creek Land Foundation to help continue its legacy of protecting the areas along and around the creek by acquiring property outright or helping landowners place the property in scenic easement to prevent its future development. WRLC member Tom Butch serves on the advisory council.

In 2016, ODNR recommended consolidating the 14 councils into a single board, with a representative from each council to be appointed to the new board. This was to cut down on the number of advisory council meetings ODNR staff would have to attend and otherwise streamline operations.

The proposal was later removed from the pending legislation, allowing the advisory councils to continue.

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