ASHTABULA, Ohio — The Ashtabula River in Ashtabula County was designated as Ohio’s newest State Scenic River Oct. 30 at a ceremony led by Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sean Logan.
The designation makes the Ashtabula River the county’s third State Scenic River and provides additional state protection to three stream segments totaling 46 miles.
“The scenic river designation of the Ashtabula protects a unique natural resource, but there is more to it than that,” said ODNR Director Sean Logan. “We are protecting this river, and Ohio’s 13 other scenic rivers, because we know that our economic and social health cannot, for long, be separated from the health of our air, water and soil.”
Ashtabula becomes the 14th Ohio waterway to achieve State Scenic River status and the second in three years for Ashtabula County.
The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves administers the Ohio State Scenic Rivers Program.
The Ashtabula River watershed supports an exceptional river system. High quality natural features include an outstanding wooded riparian corridor and diverse populations of wildlife and plants.
The aquatic habitat found in the river’s main stem and East and West branches supports 88 species of fish. The Ashtabula is a popular steelhead fishing area in northeast Ohio.
Using a federal Coastal Management grant, the division produced a comprehensive designation study after the entire stream was evaluated in 2007. The Ashtabula was recommended for state designation in September 2008. Efforts to designate Ashtabula as a state scenic river began in 2006.
Local communities and organizations have worked toward that goal, including the Ashtabula Board of County Commissioners, the City of Ashtabula and the townships of Ashtabula, Denmark, Kingsville, Monroe, Pierpont, Plymouth, Richmond and Sheffield.
A strong local supporter of the designation process was the Ashtabula River Watershed Committee, which is comprised of local residents and public officials.
Other local sponsors include: Ohio American Water Company, the James L. Smith Estate, Ashtabula County Parks Foundation and Kelley’s Gardens.
Each of these partners joins ODNR in seeking a balance between development and conservation.
Ohio passed the nation’s first scenic river protection legislation in 1968, providing for wild, scenic and recreational classifications for rivers.
Criteria used to evaluate a river’s status include the stream’s length, adjacent forest cover, biological characteristics, water quality, present use and natural conditions.
The Ohio Scenic Rivers Program identifies and helps preserve those rivers and streams possessing important natural or historic characteristics of state significance.
Scenic river designation provides increased protection and stream quality monitoring for the waterway. It is a locally driven process that relies on the support and participation of government and landowners.
The latest designation brings the number of state scenic rivers to 14 encompassing 800 miles.
Other state scenic rivers include: the Big and Little Darby Creek, Chagrin River, Grand River, Kokosing River, Little Miami River, Little Beaver Creek, Maumee River, Mohican River, Olentangy River, Sandusky River, Stillwater River/Greenville Creek and Upper Cuyahoga River.
The Little Beaver Creek, Big and Little Darby Creek and Little Miami River have also been recognized as National Scenic Rivers.