Hope Taft talks watershed protection

By Scott Halasz

July 22, 2014

XENIA — Speaking at a recent dinner meeting of the Xenia Kiwanis Club, Hope Taft expressed concerns about the quality of the Little Miami River Watershed and efforts being made to protect it, as well as the river’s economic value to the area. Taft, a former first lady of Ohio, and her husband, Bob, now reside in Sugarcreek Township along the banks of the Little Miami River.

While first lady, Taft was instrumental in the creation of the Heritage Garden at the governor’s mansion, a project that continues today. She and her neighbor, Steve Knopp, are founders of the Little Miami River Kleeners, an Ohio non-profit organization working to protect and preserve the Little Miami River. The river is one of America’s National Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Little Miami River Kleeners’ purpose is to enhance the quality of life along the river by promoting the protection of, stimulating public interest in, and encouraging its preservation.

Today, Ohio’s landscape is changing rapidly. The health of its rivers and streams is closely linked to their surrounding watersheds. Responsible planning and continued monitoring can reduce the impact of inappropriate development and land use along the state’s waterweays. Volunteers are important to the success of the Stream Quality Monitoring (SQM) project developed by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources. A variety of sampling techniques are used to compile information on the quality of Ohio’s scenic rivers and streams. For more details or to volunteer visit www.lmriverkleeners.org.

Taft said 200 volunteers boarded canoes earlier this spring for the annual clean-up of the 100 mile stretch from southern Clark County, across Greene County to just over the Warren County line. Volunteers will hit the Little Miami River and its banks for another clean-up effort on Nov. 1.

An Appreciation Picnic for all volunteers will follow. Over the last decade tons of debris have been removed — nearly everything imaginable. Because it starts and stops in metropolitan areas (Dayton and Cincinnati), the Little Miami River is more vulnerable than other scenic waterways, Taft explained.

Little Miami River Kleeners meet 5 p.m. every second Tuesday at the Sugarcreek Township Administrative offices, 2090 Ferry Road.