Updated Sat, Mar 10, 2012 6:01 am
The Muskingum River starts at Coshocton and flows through the hills of Southeast Ohio for 111 miles, emptying into the Ohio River at Marietta.
Duane Meyers of Coshocton knows the river well.
Meyers was a member of the Muskingum River Advisory Council until it was disbanded last year.
The General Assembly ended the state's official recognition of the 16-member volunteer organization.
But Meyers says supporters of the Council - MRAC - aren't calling it quits.
They want to continue their mission to optimize and improve conditions along and around the river.
How is not clear yet.
"As of this time, we do not have a legislatively mandated purpose for existing. Since learning of the decision from the state to do away with the river advisory council, the people who have been closest to the Muskingum River Advisory Council -- the former respresentatives from the four counties, as well as many concerned citizens who reguarly attended the quarterly meetings -- we have gotten together a couple of times," says Meyers.
Meyers recently attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.
His message - let's talk about working together on possible programs and projects.
The reply - yes, a partnership is possible.
"Hopefully we can assist the MRAC members to help form a positive outlet for the continued collaboration of the interests of Muskingum River communities."
Those are the words of Conservancy District Executive Director/Secretary John Hoopingarner.
Meyers says the Muskingum River Advisory Council in recent years had focused primary on providing a forum for state and local officials about river-related issues and to keep the state updated on activities at the city and county levels.
Maximizing navigation opportunities has been another function.
"The Muskingum River Advisory Council was developed in the early 1980's through a legislative mandate by the Ohio Legislature. Our role was to advise on matters that related to the Muskingum River between local officials, state officials and private citizens who used the river."
Meyers says the Muskingum River Advisory Council and all such councils in Ohio were eliminated by lawmakers because of, quote, "budgetary concerns."
Without an advisory council, oversight of the Muskingum River now rests entirely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The system of 11 locks and dams on the Muskingum River is the only completely hand-operated system in the United States.