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ODNR answers questions about canal dredging

THORNPORT – Ohio Department of Natural Resources Communications Officer Jane Beathard has now provided some answers to questions raised at the June 11 meeting about dredging a canal south of Perry County Road 79.

The meeting at AMVETS 51 Post in Thornport. included State Senator Tim Schaffer, State Representative Dan Dodd, ODNR officials, residents, and other local government representatives. To review, canal areas north of Honey Creek Road are being dredged. People who live on or near the canal south of Honey Creek Road past the CR 79 bridge wonder why their canal hasn’t been dredged since the 1960s. They say sediment has raised the canal’s water level so high that boats cannot pass below the CR 79 bridge, rendering the canal useless as a waterway. Removing the CR 79 bridge permanently was discussed as an option, but residents were still left wondering why ODNR wouldn’t commit to dredging the canal south of CR 79.

Question: Why wasn’t the area south of CR 79 considered for dredging?

ODNR: The project was limited to the current area for several reasons. The area in question (south of CR 79) doesn’t meet the same funding criteria, it is not accessible with the current bridge in place, the limited timeframe available would not be sufficient to accomplish the additional work, and the dredge material relocation area is sized only to the current approved project. It is also unclear as to the ownership of the “island area.”

Question: Why can’t the area be dredged now?

ODNR: The permit and planning process for projects that are approved and meet the funding criteria takes time. The bridge configuration currently does not allow access, the area does not meet the funding criteria and a suitable relocation area is not available. We are currently investigating the ownership of the “island area.”

Question: Can the 79 bridge be permanently removed?

ODNR: This is an issue between residents and the local township and county officials.

Question: Who controls the dredging and is funding provided annually for this purpose?

ODNR: The Division of Parks and Recreation administers the Waterway Improvement Program with funding provided through the Division of Watercraft. The emphasis for project priority that has been established by mutual agreement is to “foster vessel safety” and provide open lake (open water) safe boating opportunities. The funds come annually from the Waterway Safety Fund, which is supported through a small percentage of the gasoline sales tax.

Question: Is the dredge equipment assigned permanently to Buckeye Lake and can it be transported?

ODNR: Buckeye Lake operates a full time waterway improvement program and does have permanently based equipment. However, the machine utilized currently in the Thornport area is assigned to the Statewide Dredge Crew and performs projects on a statewide basis. The Statewide Dredge machine is transportable and has a tight schedule of previously approved projects.

Question: Is a new bridge slated to replace the current bridge on Twp 79 and if so, why?

ODNR: Again, this is an issue between residents and the local township and county officials.

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