Saturday, June 06, 2015

Big Money and East Fork SP

By now, most readers have probably heard about the Eastern Corridor Project .  It received a lot of publicity recently, as a "closed to the public" meeting was held to decide the fate of the SR 32 relocation plan.  This was the plan to relocate State Route 32 from its current location to a new location, complete with a new bridge over the Scenic Little Miami River.  It would have also cut through the Mariemont South 80 Trails Nature Preserve.  The plan was finally killed at this meeting, thankfully.

Those from the Clermont County area that have driven on I-275 at SR 32 have seen the other end of the Eastern Corridor Project.  This is the only part that I have seen that has started construction.  It is supposed to alleviate the traffic congestion around the Eastgate area.  This is not a possible task.

Clermont County has recently become an urban county.  What does this mean you ask?  It means that the county's population has exceeded 200,000.  It also means that the county is eligible for community block grants from the federal government.  These grants can be used for infrastructure improvements and parks.  I read online somewhere, that even waterparks would be a fund-able park.  Why is this important?  I can see where these funds would be used to build facilities at East Fork SP.

This, in correlation with the Eastern Corridor Project, will undoubtedly bring back the idea of opening a lodge/conference center and golf course at East Fork State Park.

Here is the original proposal from 2007 to the Clermont County Office of Economic Development:

http://www.clermontcountyohio.biz/RequestforProposal-Final.pdf

Be sure to read the section 2.1 – Accessibility.  It will show how the Eastern Corridor Project fits with the plan to open the lodge/conference center.  Also, be sure to read where it states that the park is an Audubon Important Bird Area.  This is seen as a hindrance to development, but in reality it has no bite to it.

This also pretty much guarantees that the lodge would be built on the north side of the park. There is more land to work with and this would fit into the business plan for the area.

My idea for this post arose from questions addressed to me from participants of the East Fork Birding Festival.  I was originally told that the new restrooms/bathhouse being built at the south beach was going to be open for the festival by a state employee.  That was not the case.  This also led to my being asked about the funding for the large bathhouse structure.  I could not answer these questions fully.  I was told by a state employee that it had been funded by the rowing regattas.  Many did not believe this, but this is what I was told.

Which brings me to the next and most important topic of this post.

If you bird East Fork SP in the spring, you have probably arrived at the park during a regatta. They bring in thousands of people from around the country every year, and alas, "millions" of dollars for the local economies.  The park becomes practically off limits to non-spectators.

While I am not against the regattas (even though the amount of garbage they leave behind is just ridiculous), I am against the "taking over" of our public parks by big money private interests. If birders were to essentially shut down the park for a birding event, we would be barred for good from ever returning.

This year's 2015 USRowing Club National Championships is going to be held at East Fork this July.  The only thing that could stop it would be maybe mycrocystin, a toxin produced by blue-green algae - or maybe not?

The championship is supposed to bring in just under 10,000 people from all over the country.  The thought of it not happening would cause a panic locally.  Here is an article that brings together the BIG money aspect as it relates to the algae problem.  When I have brought this news story up with local birders, they can't seem to make the connection of what I am trying to say.  Here is the article from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/clermontcounty/2014/08/22/east-fork-state-park-algae-bloom-toxin-sen-rob-portman-legislation/14435463/

A quote from the article by US Sen. Rob Portman:

“Here, for instance, they have the opportunity to bring in a lot of rowing championships, including the national rowing championships next year,” Portman said. “We want to make sure that happens. That’s a several million dollar a year impact here in the local community...”

Usually, when big politicians talk like that, it means bad things for local wildlife...

But, back to the algae.  These photos were just taken this past week at the south beach.

DSCN3123


DSCN3120

If they want the lake good by the time of the regatta, they are not off to a very good start.  I don't see any plan or any talk about the problem.  It's all about the money.  (I was told that this bloom was not producing levels to warrant an advisory)

Now, after reading the above article, read this article to see the connection of big money.

According to this article, the lake is "managed" by the local rowing community.  


When are we birders going to be able to "manage" local taxpayer funded parks for the birds?

Another subject that I will touch on briefly is the Asian Longhorned Beetle problem.  I am not going to go on in depth about it, as it would take another long post to understand.

As I was contacting local conservation organizations for the bird festival, I conversed with a guy who was in charge of a local hunting related conservation group.   He informed me that they (state) were going to start clear-cutting portions of the park for the ALB and that ODNR had contacted them for assistance on grassland habitat restoration.  This could be a good and bad thing.  I tried to get more info and invited them to the festival, but their board did not accept the offer.  As to the ALB program - seems to me lots of money to be made, very little actual science.

I wrote this article to try to explain some of the things that I have touched on with local birders when asked very complicated questions.  I see BIG changes coming soon to the park.  This blog is of my own personal opinions only.  

I am hoping to have a wonderful turnout for next years East Fork Birding Festival.  By showing our presence, we will show that there are people who care about bird habitat and maybe we can have a better say in the goings on at East Fork.  If you are local, please consider attending next year!

Update:

This article appeared in the Community Journal recently:

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/community-news/2015/06/10/beach-house-east-fork-state-park-harsha-lake-rowing-governor-national-usrowing-championships/71010954/

Here are the money figures for the event.  MUST READ!

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/clermontcounty/2015/07/02/usrowing-club-national-championships-clermont-harsha-rowing-economic-clermont-county-convention-visitors-bureau/29612637/

No comments:

Post a Comment