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Author: Logan Phillips

Funding available for projects advancing conservation, environmental stewardship

Funding available for projects advancing conservation, environmental stewardship

Applications open for research, community and innovation grants as well as fellowships

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), through its Environmental Stewardship Pillar of Prosperity, announces newfunding opportunities to advance conservation, environmental stewardshipand the greater wellbeing of Appalachian Ohio.  

Thanks to a transformative $5 million investment from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), funding is available to support community projects, scholarships, fellowships, research and innovation in the areas of conservation and environmental stewardship.

“We’re grateful to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District for its game-changing investment in our region’s permanent capacity to advance conservation and environmental stewardship,” said Cara Dingus Brook, FAO president and CEO. “MWCD’s gift is the largest environmental stewardship endowment the Foundation has received to date, and it represents a significant investment in the well-being of our people and communities.”

In addition to giving financially, MWCD will also lend its deep expertise in the areas of environmental stewardship and conservation.

“We believe that partnerships between groups are crucial to advancing sustainability and environmental stewardship in Appalachia,” said Craig Butler, MWCD executive director. “By working together, we can leverage our collective resources and expertise to create a more significant impact and support a diverse range of projects and initiatives, from local community efforts to large-scale research and innovation.”

 A total of $125,000 in grant funding is available within the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio and seven additional counties served by MWCD. It’s possible because of MWCD’s gift – and other gifts from generous donors who helped to establish FAO’s Environmental Stewardship Pillar of Prosperity Fund, including Nicolozakes Trucking & Construction Inc., Ohio CAT and American Electric Power.

Available opportunities:

  •   Community grants to support locally driven projects that preserve and enhance our natural environment. Public and nonprofit organizations as well as individuals or groups working with a fiscal sponsor are eligible to apply.

 •    Scholarships to support individuals seeking degrees or continuing education in ecology, forestry, wildlife ecology or related natural resource fields, as well as skilled trades, vocational and technical training in fields that integrate and support green energy technology, sustainable agriculture and land stewardship.

  •   Fellowships to provide two years of support (including a financial stipend and mentorship) for individuals who pioneer positive change through projects that address environmental challenges and promote biodiversity conservation.

 •   Innovation grants to invest in new and creative approaches that result in environmental good while encouraging environmental stewardship.

 •    Research grants to support studies that address critical gaps in our understanding of our diverse ecosystems and contribute to the conservation and enhancement of aquatic biodiversity and healthy habitats.

Additional information and funding applications are available at

FAO’s Environmental Stewardship Pillar of Prosperity brings donors and doers together to ensure the people of Appalachian Ohio can experience our region’s natural beauty, both today and for generations to come. To date, the Environmental Stewardship Pillar has invested more than $1.6 million in grants and scholarships throughout Appalachian Ohio.

For more information on these funding opportunities and how you can support or create opportunities for the people and communities of Appalachian Ohio, visit, email [email protected] or call 740.753.1111.

About the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio is a regional community foundation serving the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio. A 501(c)(3) public charity, the Foundation creates opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s people and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy. For more information, visit and follow FAO on Facebook and Instagram.

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Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Court Appoints Karl Gebhardt to Board of Directors

Ohio environment, agriculture, and natural resources leader Karl Gebhardt has been appointed to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) board of directors by the Conservancy Court. The Court is the 18-judge body that oversees MWCD operations and makes appointments to its board. The Court appointed Gebhardt at its recent annual meeting at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse.

“I applaud the Court for selecting Karl for the MWCD board. Time and again he has demonstrated not only his deep knowledge of the natural resources issues in Ohio but also his commitment to public service, having served as a township trustee, senior leader at cabinet agencies and on international committees for the Great Lakes. We are lucky to have his knowledge and experience at work for the MWCD and are deeply grateful for his willingness to serve,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director.

Gebhardt’s service to Ohio includes leading farmland preservation efforts at the Department of Agriculture, as well as deputy director of Water Resources and chief of the Division of Surface Water for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. He also served as deputy director at the Department of Natural Resources, overseeing its Division of Soil and Water Resources and leading the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. He has also served as a township trustee and as a member of the International Joint Commission’s Water Quality Board, a U.S-Canada body that works on shared issues impacting the Great Lakes. He has a master’s in public policy from The Ohio State University and bachelor’s in business from Franklin University.

 “Among Ohio’s many natural gems are the Muskingum River’s watershed and the conservancy district that was created 90 years ago to both help control its flooding and also steward its natural beauty for future generations. There are very few places in the country where public lands are managed as responsibly and where people can so fully enjoy them. I am honored to have the chance to contribute to this work and look forward to partnering with my fellow board members and the talented MWCD staff in continuing this strong legacy,” said Gebhardt.

 Members of Board of Directors are appointed by the Conservancy Court to oversee the operations and business affairs of the MWCD, which manages more than 58,000 acres of land and water dedicated to public use. Board members meet once a month in open, public session.


MWCD Invites You to Capture the Canvas for a Chance to Win Prizes!

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) invites you to hit the trails this summer for a chance to win fabulous prizes while having a great time outdoors with your family and friends now through Labor Day!

Find a canvas and enter to win a prize! Guests are encouraged to try and find all six canvases at each of the MWCD parks but have a maximum of three entries per person. (One entry per person, per park.) Three winners will be randomly selected. First, second and third place winners will receive a $200, $100, or $50 gift card respectively, thanks to our sponsor, Encino Energy.

The first 200 entries will receive a custom MWCD walking stick medallion, and all participants with three entries from different parks will receive a walking stick.

Five local schools created the artwork that is on display to encourage residents to get outdoors and explore the trails. MWCD provided the materials, and students painted canvases. Participating schools and the locations of their artwork are:

New Philadelphia High School: Atwood Lake Park

Dover High School: Atwood Lake Park, and Charles Mill Lake Park

Lucas High School: Pleasant Hill Lake Park

Caldwell High School: Seneca Lake Park

Claymont High School: Tappan Lake Park

“We are excited to collaborate once again with local school districts to encourage people to explore our trails and experience nature at one of our parks,” said Pete Novotny, MWCD Chief of Recreation. “We strive to connect people to the outdoors and have focused on improving and adding trails. This is a great opportunity to invite people out to the parks and feature local talent at the same time.”

The artwork will be on display, and the contest will run from Memorial Day through Labor Day. To enter, visit one of the MWCD park locations and search for the canvas on the trail. Once found, take a photo of the canvas and visit to enter your information, upload your photo, find contest rules and trail maps. Must be 18 years of age to participate. Winners will be notified September 12, 2024

MWCD Celebrates Earth Day

​​​MWCD Celebrates Earth Day by Planting 100 Trees at Clendening Marina and Collecting 33,000 Pounds of Tires at Atwood Lake

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OHIOEarth Day was celebrated nationally on April 22, but ended up as a week-long event at the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD). The festivities began with litter clean-up events and culminated with a tire take-back.

Mid-week, MWCD partnered with MPLX to plant trees near Clendening Marina. This initiative was designed after the area was clear-cut due to the maturity of the previous white pine trees. MWCD staff, alongside staff from MPLX planted 100 native fruit and nut trees in the marina area.

“The restoration of this area through tree planting is vital for ecological balance and wildlife habitat restoration. Native fruit and nut trees will not only beautify the landscape but also provide essential food sources for local wildlife. By diversifying the tree species, we aim to attract a variety of birds and other wildlife to this important ecosystem. We appreciate the support from MPLX in advancing our conservation mission and are glad to welcome their employees to get this important work done,” said Matt Thomas, MWCD Chief of Conservation.

Other Earth Day activities included a tree giveaway, sponsored by the Williams Companies where more than 800 trees were provided to the public including white pine, red oak, and white oak. The remaining 100 trees were donated to Camp Tuscazoar.

A tiretake back event, sponsored by Kraton Chemical (Dover), Encino Energy, and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Foundation culminated the week-long activities resulting in 1,100 recycled tires weighing in at more than 33,000 pounds! This event was designed to provide area residents an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of discarded tires by bringing them to MWCD for proper disposal. Willig Tire Recycling LLC was onsite to accept the tires.

“Our Tire Take Back Event is a crucial step in reducing the environmental hazards posed by discarded tires,” said Thomas. “We were pleased with the programs that took place all week long and are grateful to all of the sponsors who have helped make these opportunities come to life.”

MWCD encourages everyone to join together in protecting and preserving the natural beauty of Eastern Ohio. More information on future MWCD’s events can be found at

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Earth Day 2024

In Celebration of Earth Day

Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) is excited to invite the public to join in a series of events highlighting and supporting Eastern Ohio’s natural resources and beauty. With the generous support of Encino Energy, Kraton Chemical, the Williams Companies, Infinity Natural Resources, and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Foundation (MWCF), the MWCD has scheduled a lineup of activities focused on conservation, community engagement, and sustainability.

  • Tree Giveaway

    Tree Giveaway


  • Clean-Up Challenge

    Clean-Up Challenge

    Clean-Up Challenge


  • Earth Day Clean-Up

    Earth Day Clean-Up

    Earth Day Clean-Up


  • Tire Take Back

    Tire Take Back


Tree Giveaway

Sponsored by the Williams Companies

MWCD will give away native Ohio trees at multiple locations across the District. Made possible by generous support from the Williams Companies, MWCD will be distributing native trees including Red Oak, White Oak, and White Pine. With 225 trees available at each location, this is a first-come, first-served opportunity, with a limit of one tree per family, to add natural beauty while also enjoying all the benefits that trees bring: habitat for wildlife, drainage control, new sources of clean air, and others. Any remaining trees will be donated to Camp Tuscazoar.

Trees are available on April 20 at:

  • 11am – 1pm   | Atwood Lake Park Welcome Center, 9500 Lakeview Rd, Mineral City, OH 44656
  • 1pm – 3pm   | Charles Mill Lake Park Messerly Recreation Center, 1277 A SR 430, Mansfield, OH 44903
  • 12pm – 2pm | Seneca Lake Park Welcome Center, 22172 Park Rd, Senecaville, OH 43780
  • 3pm – 4pm  | Seneca Marina Point Shelter #2, 165 Lashley Rd., Senecaville, OH 43780
  • 11am – 1pm   | Tappan Lake Park Activity Center, 84000 Mallarnee Road, Deersville, OH 44693

Clean-Up Challange

Sponsored by: Encino Energy, Infinity Natural Resources, and MWCF

In partnership with Encino Energy, Infinity Natural Resources, and the MWCF, MWCD presents the Earth Day Clean-up Challenge. April 20 – April 28, individuals aged 18 years or older are invited to participate in this social media activity to win a prize valued at up to $500! Details include:

  • Visit Atwood, Charles Mill, Clendening, Leesville, Pleasant Hill, Piedmont, Seneca or Tappan Lake Parks and/or Marinas.
  • Take a picture of a recreational activity and post it on social media, tagging the location (e.g., Atwood Lake Park, Charles Mill Lake Park, etc.) and using #MWCDEarthDay2024.
  • Participants are encouraged to pick up and dispose of any litter they find, contributing to the cleanliness of our parks and waterways.

Rules and Regulations

Earth Day Clean-Up

MWCD encourages the community to participate in the Earth Day Clean-up at the Lake and help keep them pristine by gathering and disposing of trash around the lake. In return, participants will receive a free night of camping. Events occur:

  • April 20:
    • Atwood | 11am-1pm
    • Tappan | 11am-1pm
    • Seneca | 12pm-2pm
    • Charles Mill | 2pm – 4pm
  • April 27:
    • Leesville | 9am-12pm
    • Piedmont | 10am-1pm
    • Pleasant Hill | 12pm-2pm
    • Clendening | 1pm-3pm

    Tire Take Back Day

    Sponsored by Kraton Chemical (Dover), Encino Energy, and MWCF

    MWCD is hosting a Tire Take Back Event for area residents to reduce the environmental impact of discarded tires by bringing them to MWCD for proper disposal. Details include:

    • April 27, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Atwood Lake Park
    • Willig Tire Recycling LLC will be on-site to accept all tires. Tires must be free of debris, and tires on wheels cannot be removed. Federal law limits hauling to 10 tires per vehicle.
    • MWCD can accept up to 2,500 tires on a first-come, first-served basis.

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      Country Waves 2024 – Featuring Joe Nichols

      Join us at Atwood Lake Park on August 17, 2024, for our second annual Country Waves Concert with Joe Nichols, Travis Denning & Catie Offerman performing.

      Tickets are on sale NOW – Click Here to Purchase

      Joe Nichols is an ACM and CMA Award Winner and Grammy nominated multi-platinum country music star! He has been a mainstay of country music for two decades, racking up a half-dozen Number 1 singles and ten Top 10 hits including “Gimmie That Girl”, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”, and “Brokenheartsville”.

      Also, taking the stage is Travis Denning and Catie Offerman. Rising star, Travis Denning, is known for his Top 10 single “After A Few”. He is also known for hits “David Ashley Parker From Powder Spring” and “ABBY”. Catie Offerman is new to country music but is quickly making a name for herself in Nashville with her debut track “Happyland Trailer Park”. She’s been touring with national acts such as Parker Mccollum, Ian Munsick and Ashley Mcbryde, and recently opened for George Strait.




      4:30 PM – Gates open (along with food trucks & beer garden)

      5:30 PM – Catie Offerman

      7:00 PM – Travis Denning

      8:30 PM – Joe Nichols


      Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible!

      • WTUZ Radio 99.9FM
      • Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District
      • Ferris Chevrolet Toyota on the Wabash
      • Valley Septic
      • Wayne Door
      • Aultman and AultCare
      • Simpson Salute
      • Saltwell Western Store
      • Atwood Lake Boats
      • General RV
      • TMK Valley Propane

      MWCD Rangers Complete CPR and First Aid Training

      In a commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of our visitors, our dedicated park rangers recently participated in a comprehensive CPR and First Aid training program. This training heightens our emergency response capabilities within our parks, solidifying our commitment to public safety and service.

      During this training session, our rangers learned not only the fundamentals of CPR but also gained a comprehensive understanding of basic first aid techniques. From treating minor cuts and bruises to responding to more severe injuries, our rangers are well-prepared to provide immediate assistance until medical help arrives. This training emphasizes real-life scenarios that rangers may encounter during their duties. This hands-on approach ensures that the skills are practical and can be seamlessly applied in the field. Our rangers practiced administering CPR, applying bandages, and dealing with common injuries, fostering a confidence in their ability to respond effectively in an emergency situation.

      As we move forward, this investment in the skills and capabilities of our rangers reflects our commitment to the safety and enjoyment of all those who explore our natural wonders. The knowledge gained from the training gives our rangers the ability to stand ready to respond with skill, compassion, and confidence, ensuring that our parks remain safe and welcoming for everyone.


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