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MWCD Rangers Achieve Recertification by the Ohio Law Enforcement Collaborative Distinction Represents Outstanding Professionalism in Law Enforcement Practices

New Philadelphia, OH (February 5, 2024)— Today the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) announced that its 30-member team of Rangers—the District’s in-house law enforcement agency— achieved full compliance from the Ohio Collaborative Law Enforcement Agency, the state’s standards-setting and certification authority for law enforcement agencies. MWCD received final recertification for group one standards which include use of force, recruitment, and hiring. Group two standards which include community engagement and body worn cameras, and group four standards which include vehicular pursuits.

The MWCD ranger department will continue to pursue certification for group three.

“MWCD Rangers are sworn peace officers, and they work countless hours ensuring our guests can enjoy our lakes. We also partner with the law enforcement agencies in our neighboring communities when extra support is needed,” said Chief Patrick Brockmeier, MWCD Chief Ranger. “Certification by the Collaborative is not easy to achieve, but it helps ensure that MWCD Rangers meet high standards of professionalism and have the training they need to manage complex situations according to best practices and with safety and service first in mind. We have already received Certification in several other key areas and our advanced vehicle training certification only adds to our capabilities. I am proud of our team for this accomplishment and proud of what it means for the communities and guests we serve.”

The Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board was formed in 2015 in an effort to strengthen community and police relations. The 12-person panel is composed of law enforcement experts and community leaders from throughout the state.

MWCD Rangers are required to be certified police officers within the State of Ohio and have full police powers on MWCD property and adjacent property. To become a certified Police Officer, they must graduate from the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy and complete training on Ohio Laws, Search and Seizure, Self Defense Training, Use of Force Training, Firearms, Pursuit Driving, Human Behaviors, De-escalation Techniques, Diversity, First Aid, and numerous other topics.  The MWCD employs 34 Rangers who are guided by professional policies that are written by Lexipol and are nationally recognized as Best Practices for Law enforcement Agencies.

The job duties for a MWCD Ranger can vary daily from patrolling camp areas, cottage areas, and lakes, to providing Ohio Boater or Hunter Education Courses to the community. They also conduct safety checks, respond to noise complaints, criminal violations, and assist other nearby agencies. Lake Rangers complete vessel inspections, investigate boating accidents, and patrol the waterways to ensure safety.

“I am very proud of the MWCD Ranger Department for this accomplishment and the overall professionalism they bring to the job,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director. “Throughout the year, our Rangers receive many hours of education and training to ensure that we are adopting the most up to date policing standards, and this additional certification further validates the efforts we have made. We strive to develop relationships within our communities to ensure a safe atmosphere within our parks, cottage areas, and beyond.”

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.

MWCD Names New Chief of Engineering

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) announced the appointment of David Lautenschleger to be the new Chief of Engineering and provide supervision of all dams and reservoirs necessary for flood mitigation within the MWCD and its subdistricts. He will also oversee ongoing and continued construction projects and oversee utility operations.

Dave began working with MWCD in 2009 and has served as Deputy Chief of Surveying/GIS since 2017.  Lautenschleger is a professionally licensed surveyor in the State of Ohio and certified GIS professional. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in both Surveying & Mapping and in Geography & Cartography from The University of Akron and a master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems from Penn State University. His career has also included time serving as a professor at the University of Akron and as a GIS Manager at Accurate Technologies/R.E. Warner, Inc.

“Dave has provided strong leadership in the Engineering department for many years, and I am confident he will continue to do so as we move forward with many new and exciting initiatives in this new role,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director.

“I am very excited to continue the great work this team has accomplished,” said Lautenschleger. “I look forward to continuing the strong relationships that have been developed with partnering agencies and overseeing the development of construction projects throughout the district. It is an exciting time for the MWCD, and I am honored to be a part of the legacy that will continue to serve the region for many years to come.”

In this key role, Lautenschleger will oversee the more than $200 million capital improvement projects which span across the district. He will also manage watershed action plans, and project priorities to reduce flood damage, enhance flood mitigation, and improve water conservation and quality in the Muskingum River Watershed.

MWCD Approves More than $900,000 in Grants to Help Prevent Flooding and Improve Water Quality

Members of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) Board of Directors recently approved more than $900,000 in grants to eight organizations for new projects that will help protect against flooding and improve water quality in the Muskingum Watershed.

“There is a tremendous need across our region for efforts that help defend against flooding and protect our water quality from pollution and soil erosion. The MWCD engages in a significant amount of that work ourselves but we can’t do it all, which is why we partner with other organizations in our region that share this mission. Together we’re protecting people and property from flooding and preserving our region’s water quality,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director. “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.”

The grant program, Partners in Watershed Management (PWM), provides grants for projects throughout the 18 counties within the MWCD. Since its inception in 2009, the program has provided over $13.1 million in grant funding for 185 projects. The program is highly competitive with a multi-step review process to ensure that highly effective projects receive grant dollars.  All applications are reviewed by MWCD staff and a select group of volunteer industry experts prior to the Chief Engineer and Chief of Conservation recommending applications for approval to the Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

This year’s projects are:

Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District Ashland Small Scale No-Till Seeder New motorized seeder for use by area farmers to plant cover crops in watershed buffer zones and other areas. $13,130
Ohio State University Coshocton Pomerene Riparian Corridor Restoration Restore 11 acres of riverside forest and grassland along a 0.5 mile section of headwater stream to assess and improve water quality $72,701
Youngstown State University Harrison Tappan Lake Modeling for Algal Bloom Reduction Study of internal and local issues contributing to algal blooms in Tappan Lake $60,363
South Licking Watershed Conservancy District Licking, Fairfield, Perry Flood Damage Reduction Planning Study Planning study for flood damage reduction in South Fork Licking River watershed to benefit approx. 370,000 residents in Licking, Fairfield and Perry counties. $200,000
Licking Township Muskingum Cranberry Lane Culvert Replacement Replace 100 ft aging culvert to stop soil erosion from stormwater $220,236
Noble County Engineer Noble Shenandoah Flooding Corridor Mitigation Study Develop strategies for reducing stormwater flooding along SR 146 and 147 near Shenandoah Schools to help avoid frequent road closures $58,860
City of Barberton Summit S. Barberton Flood Mitigation Snyder SCM Construction Create a natural wetland on city land to absorb stormwater in order to reduce flooding, erosion and pollution runoff in the upper Tuscarawas River. $274,725
City of Marietta Washington Nonpoint Source Implementation Strategic Plan Development Plan designs for streambank stabilization along Sugar Creek-Duck Creek and Devol Run-Muskingum River to address erosion, flooding and water quality issues. $25,000
TOTAL   $925,015.00


Organizations interested in future rounds of funding are encouraged to contact MWCD to discuss their projects at least 30 days prior to the application deadline to learn more about the application process and have their applications preliminarily screened for eligibility.  Please contact Lynn Gilland, Administrative Specialist at 330-556-4817 or by email at  Further information about the PWM Program including can be found at


MWCD Names New Chief of Recreation

Experienced State Wildlife Official Will Bring New Energy and Ideas to Parks, Lakes, and Outdoor Programs

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) today announced the appointment of Peter Novotny to be the new Chief of Recreation and lead all recreation-related strategies and efforts for the District’s 5 million annual visitors to its parks, lakes, and marinas.

Novotny is an experienced natural resources leader with a strong background in recruiting and building effective teams and managing wildlife and public engagement efforts. He currently serves as the Assistant Chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and is a recognized national advocate for the use of public lands as the chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunting and Shooting Sports Participation Committee.

“We’re excited to have Peter join us because of his passion for getting Ohioans outdoors and engaged in all that our state’s natural resources have to offer. He is a capable administrator and financial manager who is committed to public service. His abilities and interests align with the MWCD mission very well and I am confident he will bring valuable energy and ideas as we enter a new phase of expanding the District’s recreational programming for our visitors,” said MWCD Executive Director Craig Butler.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to work alongside fellow professionals as we reimagine recreation to connect people to the wild places and spaces of Ohio,” said Novotny.

In this pivotal role, Novotny will oversee parks, marinas and docking, and work collaboratively across the MWCD to enhance and expand recreational offerings. The MWCD’s lakes and parks have long been recognized as some of the best managed natural resources in the region and new upgrades approved by the MWCD Board as part of its new strategic plan will only build on this tradition of commitment to quality outdoor programming.

MWCD Receives Awards Celebrating Its Core Mission

Flood Prevention and Reduction, Recreation and Conservation All Recognized for Outstanding Performance and Contributions to Communities

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) announced awards from three different organizations recognizing achievements in its core missions or flood prevention and reduction, recreation, and conservation.

Flood Prevention and Reduction

Established 90 years ago to prevent and reduce flooding in eastern Ohio in the Muskingum River watershed, MWCD’s work to build and manage its dams has always been central to its work. Its excellence in this mission was recognized recently by the Ohio Dam Safety Organization when it gave MWCD the annual award for the Best Maintained Dam. The award was for MWCD’s work on the eight dams in its Chippewa District.

Adam Liston – Project Coordinator, MWCD Chippewa sub-district


MWCD’s achievements in continuing to expand and upgrade its recreation efforts were recognized by the Buckeye Trail Association when it awarded MWCD the Merrill Gilfillan Award for Visionary Agency Partners. The Buckeye Trail is a 1,400-mile network of trails across the state, a portion of which goes through MWCD lands. Named for the founder of the Buckeye Trail Association, the award is for organizations that make extraordinary efforts to partner with the Association to support and maintain the trail.

Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director, Steve Walker, Buckeye Trail Association, Eric Stechschulte, MWCD Deputy Chief Projects and Planning


In recognition of MWCD’s efforts to support other organizations across Appalachia dedicated to protecting and improving wild spaces, the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) awarded MWCD the Chaddock Philanthropist of the Year Award. The award celebrates people and organizations that have made an outsized difference in Appalachia through gifts of philanthropy.


Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director, Gordon Maupin, MWCD Board Member, Jennifer Ponchak, MWCD Board Member, Robert Moorehead, MWCD Board Member, Matt Thomas, MWCD Chief of Conservation

“Serving Eastern Ohio is a mission to which the people of MWCD are deeply committed. They don’t do it for recognition but when we are recognized for doing the right thing and doing it well it is something we appreciate. MWCD is a unique resource for our state and region, and we have some of the best professionals in dam management, recreation and conservation anywhere in the country. We are honored to receive these awards, which reflect our organization’s dedication to excellence. It is a testament to the hard work, passion, and collaboration of our team in maintaining the highest standards in dam safety, supporting recreational trails, and contributing to the betterment of the Appalachian community,” said Craig Butler, Executive Director, MWCD.

MWCD Makes Historic Economic Impact Across the Region

Study shows nearly $1 Billion from Multi-year Capital Improvement Plan

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) announced a plan to address major upgrades and deferred maintenance needs at recreational facilities and marinas in 2014. The plan, which was enabled by revenues from Utica shale leases, has bolstered the region’s economy by nearly $1 billion through the MWCD’s investment of $221.9 million. It has also supported 2,606 jobs, paying out nearly $300 million in wages and benefits since its inception nine years ago.

The economic benefits were calculated as part of a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of MWCD’s oil and gas revenue done by Cleveland State University and released publicly today.

“MWCD is excited to work with Cleveland State University to show the historic levels of investments made from taking the bold step to allow oil and gas development on our lands,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director. “Through careful planning, analysis, and through a comprehensive lease and program, MWCD is leading the way and showing how we can have nearly $1 billion of economic impact, all while offering the best camping, fishing and overall recreation opportunities in Ohio.  I am proud of decision by the Board of Directors and staff made in 2011 and very proud that we have been able to invest and support the region through these investments.”

As the Cleveland State analysis underscores, increases in oil and gas revenues associated with Utica Shale development have generated revenue for MWCD that has enabled it to bring economic benefits to the conservancy district’s 18-county service area, including job creation, increased state and local tax revenue, and growth in related industries such as transportation and infrastructure. This development has also enabled MWCD to greatly expand its services so that it now provides some of the best recreational opportunities anywhere in Ohio. It has, for example, upgraded cabins, campgrounds, docks, playgrounds, picnic shelters, shower houses, trails, and wastewater utilities infrastructure to a level of quality rarely found in public parks and campgrounds anywhere in the country.

The Cleveland State analysis includes MWCD’s investments through 2022 but does not include nearly $15M in project funding in 2023, and $30M budgeted for 2024. In addition, MWCD leased more than 7,300 acres in Harrison County in 2022. Spending resulting from this lease agreement is not reflected in this study either, although these revenues will catalyze further economic impact through capital improvements and ongoing operations for many years to come.  With the addition of these additional significant investments, the economic benefits of MWCD’s oil and gas revenue are even greater.

To review the Economic Impact Study, visit

MWCD Collects 25,000 Pounds at Tire Amnesty Day

 MWCD Employees, Matt Thomas and Paige Hay help load tires into the shipping truck.

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) conservation team and park staff at Pleasant Hill Lake Park held the first annual Tire Amnesty Day on October 21, 2023. This event was created as a way to help residents properly dispose of their scrap tires for free. This event is also in response to concerns of illegally dumped tires ending up in MWCD lakes or along roadways.

Braydon West tosses a tire into the shipping truck.

MWCD chose to only accept car and light passenger tires to help maximize the capacity of tires that could be accepted from the public. In total, 25,000 pounds (about the weight of a school bus) of scrap tires were collected at this successful one-day event!

Tires are stacked in a pattern to optimize space.   Braydon West and Matt Thomas loading tires.

The scrap tires collected during the event, were transported by Willig Tire Recycling LLC in Galion, Ohio to their state-of-the-art facility to be reused and recycled. The scrap tires get a second life as they transform into new products such as rubber mulch, curbs, ballistic rubber, acoustic tiles, gym mats, and tire derived fuel (TDF) to generate heat and electricity. The recycling center’s mission, along with MWCD, is to provide solutions for a more sustainable future. By creating this partnership, MWCD can continue to promote healthier and more environmentally responsible events that have positive impacts on the communities within the district. MWCD’s Conservation Department will be hosting other tire amnesty events in 2024.

New Trail Segment Expansion Unites Organizations

The Buckeye Trail Association (BTA), Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), Student Conservation Association (SCA), and American Conservation Experience (ACE) have joined forces to create a new off-road trail segment of the Buckeye Trail. The new segment is a part of the Trails Corridor Project that is a collaboration between the BTA and MWCD that is working to expand the off-road segments of the Buckeye Trail in MWCD’s footprint.

The Buckeye Trail is a 1,400+ mile hiking trail linking the four corners of Ohio marked by 2″ x 6″ blue blazes. The trail follows wooded footpaths, abandoned railroad corridors, historic canal towpaths, rivers, lake shores, and country roads, within both rural and urban settings. Sections are located within the footprint of the MWCD, including the Beall Farm, regional headquarters for the trail located at Tappan Lake Park.

The SCA crew from Cleveland, Ohio and ACE crew from Fletcher, North Carolina worked to create a new natural surface trail between the Beall Farmstead and Area 5 Campground within Tappan Lake Park located near Deersville, Ohio.


Student Conservation Association and MWCD
Staff working on the new trail segment
American Conservation Experience and MWCD
staff working on the new trail segment

The first trail segment recently developed, covers 1.2 miles and the second segment, expected to be complete in the coming year, will result in a total length of 2 miles. Once complete, the new trail segment will be incorporated into the Buckeye Trail, providing a scenic path for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the natural beauty of the area. By moving the trail off Moravian Trail Road and through Tappan Lake Park, it will provide a safer experience for trail users. Another part of this new reroute of the Buckeye Trail through the park will incorporate the nearby Turkey Ridge Trail which was originally built by BTA Volunteers to connect the BTA Beall Farmstead to the major amenities at Tappan Lake Park.

“We are thrilled to be part of this collective effort to expand the Buckeye Trail. It showcases the power of partnerships in advancing environmental conservation while enriching the outdoor experience for all,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director.

The BTA is comprised of a large, strong body of volunteers who maintain and promote the trail. For more information about the Buckeye Trail visit For more information about MWCD and trail maps, visit

MWCD Cottage Site Lessee Webinar

At the August 18, 2023 meeting of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) Board of Directors, the Board approved a recommendation from MWCD’s Board of Appraisers to conduct a reappraisal of MWCD’s cottage site lots.

MWCD hosted a webinar on October 10, 2023 to provide information and an opportunity to ask questions about the upcoming reappraisal. Click on the icon below to watch a recording of the webinar on YouTube.

Cottage site lessees own their houses and improvements but not their lots. Instead, they hold 30 or 40-year leases on them and make annual rental payments to MWCD. Any adjustments to these rental amounts are governed by the lease agreement, and rates are annually reviewed by staff and the MWCD Board of Appraisers and Board of Directors.

Rent payments are used by MWCD to pay for road maintenance, snow removal, lot upkeep and various other needs and expenses on cottage lots. Rent payments also help cover the property tax payments that MWCD itself must pay to counties on the value of cottage lots. Though a public entity, MWCD must pay property tax on any land from which it earns commercial revenue, such as cottage lots, marinas, stores, restaurants, etc.

The current rate classification system was established in the year 2000 based upon an appraisal conducted in 1998. Since that time, one reappraisal was conducted in 2013. Because of the large gap in time between appraisals, the value of cottage lots on the books may not accurately reflect current values today.

For the new appraisal system, the Board is considering going to a three-year reappraisal schedule like that used by Ohio’s county auditors. Additionally, it is looking at adopting the “ground rent” methodology widely accepted in the real estate appraisal industry for determining land rents. With support from MWCD’s independent appraisal consultant, the goal will be to have all cottage lots reappraised by January 1, 2024. When the January 2024 Consumer Price Index (CPI) is published in February 2024, the Board will use it, as well as an evaluation of MWCD’s cottage lot expenses, to finalize the new system and make the appropriate adjustments to rates in March 2024. The adjustments to the annual rent amounts invoiced to cottage lessees in April 2024 will be a product of this new process.

The purpose of these changes is to continue to adhere to the cottage site lease provisions and also ensure that cottage rent payments are fair to lessees, MWCD, and the public. Rental rates should accurately reflect both lots’ value as well as MWCD’s costs to maintain them. Adopting a methodology that aligns with contemporary best practices for real estate appraisals and rent payment determination will help do that.

If you have any questions about this process, do not hesitate to contact MWCD at or 330-343-6647.

MWCD seeks Chief of Recreation to manage parks, marinas, and campgrounds!

The MWCD has announced the search for a Chief of Recreation to manage parks, marinas, and campgrounds, serving over 5 million visitors annually.

The search, conducted by Beecher Hill, an executive search firm from Columbus, Ohio, is seeking a dynamic and experienced leader to help achieve strategic goal of “Reimagine Recreation”.

The position profile can be viewed HERE.

MWCD Receives Statewide Marketing Awards for Excellence

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) recently received recognition for achievement in marketing and advertising at the Ohio Travel Association’s RUBY Awards presentation, held Oct. 5 at Shisler Conference Center in Wooster, Ohio. MWCD received RUBY awards for Targeted Marketing Campaign, Radio Advertisement, and Print Advertisement. A Citation of Excellence was received for the Annual Report. Accepting the awards were Adria Bergeron, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Logan Phillips, Digital Media Coordinator.

The Ohio Travel Association’s RUBY Awards recognize excellence in Ohio’s hospitality and tourism industry for efforts in advertising, marketing, and public relations. In this year’s competition, the Recognizing Uncommon Brilliance Yearly (RUBY) Awards had 236 entries in 17 categories. The awards, sponsored by Ohio Magazine, were presented during the Ohio Conference on Travel, the state’s tourism conference for all sectors of the tourism industry.

Nine marketing professionals representing academia, consulting firms and ad agencies judged each entry on the basis of concept, results and creativity.

“Competition for these awards seems to grow every year, and this year was no exception. We had a record number of entries,” said Melinda Huntley, Ohio Travel Association executive director. “Winners truly represent the best of the best in marketing strategy and design. It’s inspiring.”

“We are thrilled to receive these awards which reflect our team’s dedication to creativity, innovation, and excellence in marketing campaigns,” said Bergeron. “I was honored to represent the MWCD at the Ohio Conference on Tourism, and proud to have the opportunity to serve as this year’s conference chair. The organizations that are represented at the Ohio Conference on Tourism are some of the best in the state. To be recognized amongst your peers, who present tough competition, is exciting.”

The Ohio Travel Association is a nonprofit trade association representing travel and tourism-related businesses throughout the state. For more information on OTA, visit

MWCD Winter Drawdown Schedule and Reservoir Projects Released

Millions of visitors enjoy the lakes of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) on an annual basis to enjoy outdoor recreation ranging from fishing and boating, to camping and hiking among a variety of other opportunities. While relaxing on the water or reeling in a big catch are obvious benefits of the lakes, the most important function is to mitigate flooding for the entire Muskingum Watershed region.

To prepare for winter, on an annual basis the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) conducts annual temporary drawdown of the normal pool elevation of the lake levels. The drawdown allows for additional flood storage capacity needs during the winter thaw and spring rains and allows MWCD personnel to access near-shore areas for shoreline stabilization projects and other reservoir maintenance activities. Drawdown will begin in early November and the return to normal pool elevation will initiate in February. Normal pool elevations will be obtained in time for the next summer recreation season.

The temporary 2023 – 2024 drawdown dates and lake levels are as follows:

Reservoir Normal Pool Winter Level Total Drawdown (feet) Begin 2023 Drawdown Release Duration (days) Suggested intermediate refill schedule by

March 15, 2024

Atwood 928.00 920.00 8.0 November 8 42 926.00
Charles Mill 997.00 992.00 5.0 November 15 35 995.00
Clendening 898.00 893.00 5.0 November 15 35 896.00
Leesville 963.00 958.00 5.0 November 15 35 961.00
Piedmont 913.00 908.00 5.0 November 1 35 911.00
Pleasant Hill 1020.00 1012.00 8.0 November 1 42 1018.00
Seneca 832.20 824.20 8.0 November 1 42 830.20
Tappan 899.30 894.30 5.0 November 15 35 897.30
NOTE:  Due to planned construction at Atwood, Charles Mill, Seneca, and Pleasant Hill Lakes, we request that additional drawdown occur to the elevations noted.  All reservoirs with extended drawdown will be held at the requested elevation until February 15, 2024, and then returned to normal winter schedule elevations.

Shoreline projects planned for the Winter of 2023 – 2024 include:

  • Charles Mill Lake – South Peninsula Cottage Area: Coir log, rock riprap, and native plantings will be installed to stabilize approximately 1,900 feet of eroding shoreline on the west shore of the South Peninsula cottage area.
  • Atwood Lake – Arcadia Drive: Rock riprap, coir log, and native grass plantings will be used to stabilize a 500-foot section of eroding shoreline in the Atwood Pines cottage area.


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