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Month: April 2023

MWCD Board Votes to Cut Property Assessment

Property owners receive a total of $4 million in savings annually

Property owners within the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will see their property assessments paid to MWCD reduced by 66 percent, from $6 dollars to $2, thanks to the approval of the assessment-reduction plan voted on recently by the MWCD Board of Directors. 

“We have always been good stewards of these public funds and are very pleased to allow residents in the watershed to keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their pockets,” said Craig Butler, MWCD executive director. “We are making this reduction because the district’s financial position has changed positively.  We have been fortunate to earn and invest nearly $200 million in our public-use facilities and recreational areas, and now for the second time, the Board has voted to extend those benefits to the property owners in our watershed by reducing the assessment collection.”   

The assessment originally was levied in 2009 at $12 per parcel and was then cut to $6 in 2015. Assessments are collected through landowners’ county property tax payments, and the funds are required to be used by MWCD on the operation and maintenance of the system of 16 dams and reservoirs. The system was constructed nearly 90 years ago for flood reduction and water conservation benefits in the Muskingum River Watershed, as well as other important conservation and reservoir management projects.

The assessment reduction will result in an estimated $4 million overall reduction in the total amount of assessments collected in 2024 by the MWCD.  However, the district will still meet its financial commitments to the federal government for dam and reservoir maintenance, as well as for conservation and reservoir management projects. Routine financial reviews will be very important and, in the event of any major changes in the district’s financial position, corresponding adjustments could be made to assessment levels.

Assessment funds are also used to support the work of other regional agencies and groups involved in conservation programs, water quality issues, and flood reduction and mitigation projects through the Partners in Watershed Management (PWM) Project Assistance Program. The PWM program provides assistance to local communities, agencies and groups involved in projects and programs that support the conservation and flood control aspects of the Mission of the MWCD. The PWM program, approved by the Board of Directors in June of 2009, has provided over $12.2 million in grant funding for 177 projects.

“There is a tremendous need across the watershed to provide funding to communities, universities and other conservation organizations that regularly partner with us on projects that protect the people of our region,” said Butler. “These projects help to prevent costly flooding, minimize soil erosion and nutrient loss from agricultural operations, assist with upgrading essential community services, and preserve and rehabilitate sensitive lands for public use.  MWCD is proud to be a sponsor of these projects as they support our core mission and allow us to give back to the communities that are in our backyard.” 

In addition, the MWCD has spent assessment funds on shoreline stabilization projects at the MWCD lakes and dredging of the lakes. Assessment revenues by law cannot be used to pay for projects that enhance or improve the MWCD’s recreational programs and facilities, and all expenditures must be covered by guidelines stipulated in the Amendment to the Official Plan of the MWCD that was approved in 2005 by the Conservancy Court and the Board of Directors.

The MWCD collects assessments from owners of property in all or portions of the following counties: Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Washington and Wayne.

Welcome Back Campers and Boaters!

MWCD Staff held a virtual public meeting on April 12 to welcome back campers and boaters for the 2023 season. In case you missed it, the recording is now available on YouTube! 

Whether you camp with us for the season, or occasionally throughout the year, this meeting will provide updates from MWCD Staff on exciting things to expect throughout the year. 

Meeting agenda:

  • Welcome back campers! 
  • Introduction of new Chief Ranger 
  • Program overview/ Communication
  • Campground Rules Overview
  • Upcoming Projects
  • Q&A

Click on the image below to view the recording on YouTube.


Have You Heard of the Chippewa Subdistrict

Did you know that MWCD owns and operates a flood control system in Medina and Wayne counties that is separate from the Muskingum Flood Control System? The system is operated by the Chippewa Subdistrict of MWCD.

Chippewa Subdistrict was formed in the 1960s through a grassroots effort led by local business owners and farmers to lessen the devastating impacts of flooding along Chippewa Creek, which starts in northern Medina County and flows in a southeasterly direction to where it meets the Tuscarawas River near the town of Clinton. The Chippewa Creek watershed encompasses 188 square miles. The eight dams and associated channel improvements along Chippewa Creek and two other tributaries, Little Chippewa Creek and River Styx, were designed and built by the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The SCS built hundreds of similar dams all over the United States. However, to build the Chippewa system, a local sponsor was required. MWCD was asked to fill that role and was instrumental in acquiring property and easements for construction of the dams and channel improvements. Construction of the project was supported by federal funds at a total cost of $12,190,000 with a local cost-share of $2,268,000. When the last dam was built in 1980, the entire system was handed over to the Chippewa Subdistrict to own, maintain, and operate.

The Chippewa Subdistrict is its own entity and was created and is operated in a similar fashion as the larger MWCD. Chippewa has a project coordinator on staff that keeps the system operating smoothly and the chief engineer for MWCD also serves as chief engineer for the Chippewa Subdistrict. The subdistrict also has its own Conservancy Court and maintenance assessment which generates $320,000 per year. Those funds are used to maintain the eight dams and associated spillway systems, remove logjams and debris that accumulate throughout the channel system, maintain access along the channel system, and maintain over 600 drainage structures along the channel. Local contractors are utilized for much of the maintenance work and in doing so, Chippewa supports many small businesses in the local community.

For nearly five decades, the Chippewa Flood Control System has been a great success in preventing disastrous flooding for communities along Chippewa Creek including Seville, Sterling, Creston, Rittman, and Clinton. The last devastating flood occurred in 1969 when severe thunderstorms moved from Lake Erie into Ohio’s north coast communities on July 4th. This line of storms became stationary for eight hours from Toledo southeastward through Fremont, Norwalk, Ashland, and Wooster. 10-14 inches of rain fell in a band heading southeast from Ottawa County to Wayne and Holmes Counties. Massillon, just east of that area, received six or more inches of rain. Most of Ashland and Wayne Counties were flooded and isolated for two days after the flood. Killbuck Creek in Holmes County rose 20 feet, its highest known level.

Chippewa’s dams range in size from 27 feet to 55 feet tall and from 470 feet to over 2,600 feet in length. Four of the dams are “dry dams” meaning they do not impound water during normal conditions, while the other four are “wet dams” where a permanent reservoir is impounded behind the dams. All eight dams are regulated by the State of Ohio and are in complete compliance with state standards and regulations.

If you ever find yourself driving west on Interstate 76 about two miles before the Interstate 71 intersection, look northward and you will see Hubbard Valley Dam, one of Chippewa’s dams.


Boris Slogar                                                                                                                                                          Chief Engineer

This article was featured in MWCD’s quarterly newsletter, LakeViews. To join our LakeViews mailing list, call 330-343-6647 or visit 

MWCD Actively Engaged in Restoring Legendary Status of the American Chestnut

The American chestnut was once the dominant economically and ecologically important tree species in eastern North America. Among the tallest, largest, and fastest-growing trees, and often found in both urban and rural settings, nearly four billion American chestnut trees covered the region. Facing extinction from a fungal blight in the early 20th century, it has become the embodiment for landscape-level ecological disasters. By the 1930s, entire ecosystems collapsed, and economies shifted dramatically. The local traditions and culinary history that centered around the American chestnut faded into the past along with the deaths of millions of trees.

In the aftermath of the disease that swept across Appalachia, there still were some remnant trees struggling to survive. These trees, more of a scrubby bush than an actual tree, were living genetic stock that offered hope of reintroducing the chestnut into our landscape.

Since the 1980s, The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) has been working to create a blight-resistant American chestnut tree by crossing it with blight-resistant Chinese chestnut varieties. Carefully controlled pollination and selection of trees that exhibit blight resistance, nut quality and timber producing characteristics have brought us to the point of experimental reintroduction into forested areas. Developing trees with good characteristics in isolation is only half the battle. The other half is studying how these seedlings survive in a more natural landscape.

The Ohio chapter of TACF has participated in this national effort and has also conducted independent chestnut breeding research with Dr. Greg Miller of Ohio TACF and Empire Chestnut Company, Carroll County. Miller has been breeding and selecting chestnut trees with tall timber-type growth form, blight resistance, and other beneficial characteristics for over 40 years.

MWCD has the unique ability to plant, monitor, and manage test plantings within the watershed. These small plots help managers assess tree survival and growth and are an important first step in better understanding how they can be part of Ohio’s forests once again.

In April 2022, MWCD planted 200 chestnut trees – 100 from TACF’s backcross breeding program, and 100 from Empire Chestnut Company. These trees were planted near Tappan Lake in Harrison County. MWCD’s Conservation Department, in partnership with TACF, Empire Chestnut Company, and researchers from The Ohio State University will be monitoring the growth and survival of the trees as they start to fill the canopy. When these trees reach nut-bearing age (approximately five years), MWCD will survey the surrounding forests and fields for evidence of natural regeneration.

These renewed chestnut trees have quite a lot to offer beyond timber, wood products, and food. By reintroducing the chestnut into the forest, we make our forest ecosystems more resilient, more biodiverse, and able to withstand future challenges. MWCD is proud to participate in this critical research and long-term forest management for the greater good of our Ohio landscapes, wildlife, and people.

These trees and their seedlings will become part of our diverse Ohio forests filling that ecological niche once lost. MWCD is making the important first steps needed to achieve sustainable chestnut timber harvest in Ohio. This will ultimately return chestnut wood products to local markets for the first time in over 100 years.


Matt Thomas                                                                                                                                                          Chief of Conservation

This article was featured in MWCD’s quarterly newsletter, LakeViews. To join our LakeViews mailing list, call 330-343-6647 or visit 


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