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Month: August 2023

Turkey Ridge Trailhead’s Turtle Sculpture at Tappan Lake Park

If you have gone on a hike at Tappan Lake Park’s Turkey Ridge Trail this summer, you have probably seen this turtle.

It all started with a girl scout, Nicolette Ellis, working towards achieving “The Gold Award”, a prestigious award that makes a direct and lasting impact on the community. It is through this project she found an outlet to share her passion for keeping our planet clean, wildlife safe, and ecosystems intact. Here is a quote from her that should give you a better understanding of why this turtle is here, what it is made of, and why those materials were used.

“My project addresses littering and trash in nature and shows the importance of keeping our world clean. The turtle statue was made to represent the animals impacted by littering and to raise awareness of this serious problem. The statue was made from an old dog bowl, a frying pan, scrap sheet metal, a worn firepit, and metal cans. All of these items were found littered or about to enter a landfill. Accompanying the statue is a plaque explaining the dangers of littering and how it affects us. Additionally, litter sticks and bags are provided at the trailhead for hikers to pick up any litter they may see on the trail. This idea was formed to address a dangerous problem and show how objects labeled as ‘trash’ can still be useful, as well as raise awareness of proper trash disposal, such as recycling. The total duration of the project was 84 hours, and it was a fun and challenging experience!”

Inspiration can come from anyone.

To see the efforts of the youth making a positive impact on the community is truly inspiring. It is important that we too take a note from this girl’s book to make an effort to be/make the changes we want to see.

Thank you, Nicolette Ellis for being an inspiration!


MWCD Announces Transition to Daily-Use Duck Blinds

In a move towards sustainable and equitable use of natural resources, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) has announced a policy shift regarding duck blinds. Effective immediately, the use of seasonal duck blinds will no longer be permitted, and only daily-use duck blinds will be allowed.

This decision is rooted in our commitment to promote fair access to our natural resources for all members of the community. By transitioning to daily-use duck blinds, we aim to reduce the environmental impact of permanent structures while ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our wetlands and the thrill of waterfowl hunting.

Hunters must be aware of local hunting regulations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets the frameworks for waterfowl and other migratory game birds. Migratory bird hunting is governed by both state and federal regulations. For further information about hunting on MWCD property, and links to ODNR hunting rules and regulations, visit

About Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving over $7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region’s economy garnering more than 5 million visitors annually. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). For more information about the MWCD, visit and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.

Osprey Rescued from Tree Entangled in Fishing Line at Atwood Lake

Thanks to community cooperation and concern for wildlife, a distressed osprey was successfully rescued after becoming entangled in fishing line high up in a tree. The rescue mission, led by Atwood Park Staff, MWCD Rangers, Dellroy Fire Department, and DH Land Clearing took place over the weekend near Dellroy. 

A nearby resident noticed the osprey struggling in the tree and alerted local authorities. The osprey, had been ensnared in discarded fishing line, leaving it unable to free itself.

“We have an awesome, supportive community and were able to quickly assemble a team to attempt a successful recovery,” said John Lewis, Atwood Lake Park Manager. “This rescue serves as a reminder of the importance of responsible fishing practices and the impact on our wildlife. We cannot stress enough how important it is to discard used fishing lines, or other materials properly. We are grateful for the swift response of the community and the dedication of our team in ensuring the safety of this animal.”

Osprey after being freed  Stark Parks Wildlife Conservation Center

Rescuers managed to safely reach the distressed osprey and carefully remove the entangling fishing line. Following the successful rescue, the osprey was transported to Stark Park’s Wildlife Conservation Center where it is being cared for to ensure its health and well-being.

“The Osprey is doing fairly well,” said Stephon Echague, Animal Care Supervisor Stark County Park District’s Conservation Center. “He has a swollen leg where the fishing line was wrapped, but he can put weight on it, so that is a good sign. He will see the vet this week and is currently receiving fluids and being well-fed. If all goes well, and he continues to show positive improvements, we will look forward to releasing him back into the wild soon.”

Fishing line disposal bins are located at the public launch ramps, and various locations at each of the MWCD lakes. Additionally, residents are encouraged to report any wildlife in distress to local authorities.

Osprey entangled in fishing line    Fishing line disposal bin

Abundance of Pine Trees on MWCD Lands is no Accident!

MWCD has a long history of managing forests. To this day, MWCD maintains stewardship over the lands acquired in the 1930s. At that time, poor farming practices caused significant erosion of the lands, triggering water quality issues both locally and downstream. In the 1940s, and over the course of 30 years, to mitigate these inadequate farming practices, MWCD foresters, with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps, Soil Conservation Service, and National Youth Administration planted over 12 million trees covering over 7,000 acres for watershed protection in critical areas. Additionally, farmers were educated on best management practices so that the dilapidated grounds could be restored.

Initially, trees were hand planted, but foresters found a more efficient way to plant the trees by using mechanical means. A dozer was utilized to plow the soil into distinct ridges on the contour. In most cases a double plow would be used that contoured the ground into ridges and built a double layer of topsoil. The next time you walk MWCD lands, especially in a pine forest, you will still see these ridges that were created over 70 years ago. Once the ridge was formed, a dozer would come back through pulling a mechanical tree planter. The tree planter was custom built just for MWCD and could self-level which was important as plantings occurred on steep hills. The planter would open a hole in the ground allowing a single person riding the planter to physically place a pine seedling into the soil. The machine would then close the hole behind the tree once planted.

Winter and spring are the perfect time to look back and see the efforts of previous generations and the hard work they put into managing the lands. The primary tree of choice to plant were evergreens, including white pine, pitch pine, shortleaf pine, red pine, and Norway spruce. These evergreens really stand out in the winter and spring against the surrounding hardwoods. Early MWCD foresters considered planting hardwoods but had difficulties getting them to survive in the conditions of the landscape. In every location that you see pine on MWCD lands, those were once farm fields that 12-inch-tall seedlings were planted. Today, those seedlings are now upwards of 120-foot-tall pine trees.

Pine trees have significantly improved the poor soil conditions that existed long ago when the intent of foresters was to manage the forests for the best results in the future. However, many of those initial pine plantings are now overcrowded and becoming increasingly over-mature. One of the greatest principles of forest management is to limit the number of forests that contain one species. The susceptibility of mono-cultured forests to insects, diseases, and other forest pathogens is incredibly high. Wildlife diversity also thrives with more non-homogeneous forests. Adding a multitude of tree species that can provide much needed nutrition at different times of the year is crucial for wildlife diversity.

Today, MWCD foresters manage these pine plantations to help diversify the landscape. The intention is not to remove every pine from the land, but to manage the pine, primarily where there are no effects to the overall aesthetics of the lakes, campgrounds, or other significant viewsheds. Certain species of trees and wildlife depend on the habitat that is created through the management of these pine forests. In fact, an abundance of oak, hickory, and other keystone tree species take the place of the pines as they are properly managed. Wildlife diversity flourishes by creating much needed habitat in the form of young forests. Grouse, woodcock, deer, bobcats, and many species of non-game birds thrive in these young forests.

MWCD recently purchased 144 acres of land in the Tappan Lake region. This land, much like the land of the 1930’s, had been highly grazed by livestock leaving the soil compacted and highly acidic. MWCD will plant over 22,000 trees to repurpose this ground. Additionally, the trees will create great thermal cover for wildlife and aid in enhancing the water quality. It is our hope that the trees will survive into the future and improve the soil just as previous generations knew they would.


This article was written by Clayton Rico, Forest Operations Coordinator and was featured in the MWCD newsletter, LakeViews. 


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