I want to respond to Leanne Turner's article about the Mahoning River and starting at the wrong end. In a perfect world and most of the time, starting at the end is unusual. The world's not perfect, and this is the way the chips have fallen.
The Ohio EPA will award four grants totaling $10 million statewide under its Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program. According to the Ohio EPA website, the program was created to counter the loss of ecological function and biological diversity that jeopardizes the health of Ohio's water resources.
So unlike everyone in the past who talks about doing something, the Village of Lowellville and Mayor James Ludiciani jumped at the chance to make a difference in the Mahoning Valley. No other town north of Lowellville showed interest. Mayor Ludiciani has a vision of Lowellville being a hub of activity in the Valley and using the river is the start of his vision.
At the same time the Friends of the Mahoning were already making headway working on the river and joined with Mayor Ludiciani and got the support of the Trumbull Canoe Trails to make this project a go. The EPA and Army Corps are the ones going over details and making sure it is done right. Nothing will happen without the Army Corps permission with the EPA.
What also makes this a different project is the city of Canton is sponsoring Lowellville for this project threw the Ohio EPA. All the information has been made public with open meetings held throughout the Valley.
They are not going to just rip out the dams and let the sediment flow downstream. There are plans being established to clean the river before one notch is put into the Lowellville dam. Plans are to make a small whitewater park in place of the dam that will attract kayakers and canoeist from the region to the Valley . This doesn't only help the paddlers, but the fishing will get better as fish will be able to migrate further upstream.
Lawrence County, Pa., is also embracing the river. They will be installing a launch area by the new 224 bridge that goes over the Mahoning River in Edinburg, Pa., so people can use the Savage Bike trail out of Lowellville and do peddle and paddle trips.
This is not a new idea or project. This has been done on a river with same conditions as we have on the Mahoning.
It's time to stop watching other areas in our state get the funds to make improvements and have all the fun. It is time for the Mahoning Valley to step up and have something here. Yes, we have to start at the end of the river, but I rather start somewhere than watch another part of Ohio get more attractions and us on the sidelines.
Anyone with questions of the river should come to River Fest 2013 at the B & O Station in downtown Youngstown on June 8 from noon to 4 p.m.
While many sit and complain about the idea of improving the river, I will be out on the Mahoning paddling the 23 miles of State Water Trail in Trumbull County, removing logs and making the river usable. I will be on the Mahoning in Youngstown helping the Friends of the Mahoning any way I can.