EPA wish list

There was a time when Veto Lake’s 160 acres of water were jam packed with activity.

The picnic shelter was always full, the shores were lined with fishermen, and it was not uncommon to see a dozen boats or more on the water during a pleasant summer day, recalled Dunham Township trustee Kenny Maze.

But not anymore. Decades of silt buildup have caused the lake’s glory days to pass it by.

“Ten years ago, there was not any vegetation on the lake. Now there’s so much in it you can’t even get a boat below the bridge on (Ohio) 339,” said Maze, who has frequented the lake for decades.

Revitalizing the lake-dredging the silt and improving its dated dam-is one of many local environmental projects that area residents would like to see tackled.

Among other things, area residents and environmentalists said they would also like to secure grant or local funding for projects such as stabilizing area river banks, combating invasive plant species, and improving the water quality of area creeks.

Marilyn Ortt, a member of Friends of the Lower Muskingum, said that erosion along the Muskingum River has been a longtime environmental concern for the group.

“Certainly there are a lot of eroding river banks. This not only causes people to lose land, but it also puts sediment into the river which is injurious to wildlife,” said Ortt.

The erosion has gotten to the point that roads near the river in Muskingum and Adams townships are in jeopardy of being lost to the river, she said.

Ortt said the Friends have funded a preliminary erosion study and are looking into possible funding sources, but noted that state and federal grants are highly competitive.

“There aren’t very many grants out there right now. A lot of federal grants are gone,” said Ortt.

It is possible restoring the Muskingum River banks and dredging Veto Lake are projects that would qualify for an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Surface Water Improvement grant, the application deadlines for which are April 11.

The grants are awarded for water quality improvement projects including riparian restoration and inland lake restoration, according to a news release from the Ohio EPA.

Maze said he would like to see the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which owns and oversees Veto Lake, apply for that or some other source of funding.

“I heard a rumor they were going to try to get a grant to dredge it,” said Maze.

Calls to ODNR were not returned Friday.

Elin Jones, who is also a member of Friends of the Lower Muskingum, said that Goose Run, a creek that runs from near Washington State Community College into the Muskingum River, should also be a priority as far as environmental funding goes.

“It has a lot of E. coli…It ought to be cleaned up,” she said.

The creek was tested by the Ohio EPA in the summer of 2012 and found to have an E. coli content almost 50 times higher than what a creek of its size should contain.

The creek encompasses a vast area of Marietta and is worth investing time and resources into, said Jones.

Darlene Lukshin, a community development program specialist with the Ohio State University Extension office, helps area townships and communities assess their needs and then find and apply for applicable grants.

Lukshin said currently, most of the townships are focused on projects that involve roadways.

“A lot of townships have been hurt dramatically this year with the bad weather we’ve had, so they’ve had to use a lot of their funds up early. So they now have less money available to maintain a gravel road or to chip and seal,” she explained.

However, Lukshin said she is available to help communities with a wide array of grants including those for environmental and public works projects.