VERMILION – The Vermilion River could soon be added to the state`s list of scenic rivers.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources designation would make the river the 14th scenic river in the state, and the department is seeking approval from local governments in the three counties that the river runs through.
Erie County commissioners approved the measure Thursday, and the Vermilion City Council Legislative Committee approved a resolution supporting the scenic river designation Monday.
Erie County Commissioner Nancy McKeen said the decision was an easy one.
“It`s all a plus,” she said. “When you look at some of the other rivers that have it, like Mohican, Olentangy and Chagrin, those are all such beautiful areas. It`ll also be a great resource for tourism.”
Ohio pioneered the river preservation movement in 1968 with the passage of the nation`s first Scenic Rivers Act, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Tim Kwiatkowski, the assistant scenic river manager leading the study of the Vermilion River, said ODNR turned its sights on the Vermilion River after it found it had leftover money from a two-year grant in Ashtabula County.
The designation, he said, will allow ODNR to team up with different agencies to secure grants for improvements and work along the river.
Private property owners will not be affected in any way, he said.
“(The designation) gives testament to the land use and water quality to the area,” Kwiatkowski said. “It`s kind of a badge of honor. It`s something to be proud of.”
ODNR will continue to meet with local governments until more than half approve the measure. Kwiatkowski said he doesn`t anticipate the proposal will run into any problems.
A legal notice of the intent to designate the river a scenic river will be issued by ODNR 60 days prior to the declaration to allow sufficient time for public comment.
Erie County Commissioner Bill Monaghan said the classification would protect and preserve the river for years to come.
“Huron, Lorain and Erie counties are very fortunate to have a beautiful river flowing through it,” Monaghan said. “If you go up and down the Vermilion River and see the scenic value it has, anyone would want to keep the scenery we have. It`s important to keep that designation for our children and our children`s children.”