There’s been a lot of well deserved attention for our wonderful river asset in Kent but our region is actually blessed with abundant water resources beyond the mighty Cuyahoga. One resident naturalist told me that Portage County has more wetlands than any other county in the state. I can’t confirm that statistic but traveling around the county and seeing how many bodies of water we have, both large and small, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true. For all my complaints of snowy winters in northeast Ohio I have to admit that it keeps our ponds, lakes and tributaries flowing nicely once everything thaws — and all that water serves as habitat for wildlife and plant-life that make for a really rich eco-system for all of us to enjoy. How we enjoy it is up for discussion right now as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is updating their strategic plan for Ohio boating and they’re holding a public forum in Rootstown on May May 6 to talk about it.
Whether your interaction with water is passive like photography or shoreline meditation, or active like water-skiing or swimming, our water resources are a key ingredient to the terrific quality of life opportunities we have in Kent so the Ohio boating plan is important. ODNR has scheduled ten meetings across the state so that Ohio boaters can voice their concerns.
Each meeting will consist of a brief history of the development of Watercraft’s Strategic Plan, audience polling, and an open forum for attendees to provide comments.
The northeast Ohio meeting is set for May 6th, from 7 to 9 pm at the Neoucom Conference Center, 4209 State Route 44, Rootstown, Ohio.
(West Branch State Park Beach and Lake)
Here’s the executive summary from the Ohio Boating Strategic Plan:
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Watercraft is a customer-centered state agency that provides information and resources to Ohioans who want to participate in the boating experience. Boating provides an opportunity to spend recreational time with friends and family or to have personal time alone on the water. The boating experience removes participants from the distractions of hectic, everyday life.
Recreational boating in Ohio enriches people’s lives.
The ODNR Division of Watercraft is interested in promoting boating as Ohioans’ choice for recreation as well as ensuring that such opportunities are safe and enjoyable. The goal of our strategic planning process is to determine what our boating customers’ highest priority needs are and to determine how we can improve the programs and services we offer.
This strategic plan presents a common vision that enables the Division of Watercraft to provide programs and services that benefit Ohio’s boaters. It provides the framework for agency decision-making, budgeting, and program evaluation.
This plan was produced in a concerted effort with participation from Ohio’s boaters and is a follow-up to The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft Strategic Plan for the Twenty-First Century published in July of 1999. Input we received from the boating public, the Waterways Safety Council, employees of the Department, and various organizations was utilized to identify the issues contained in this strategic plan.
The Division is funded by a portion of the state motor fuel tax (currently seven-eighths of one percent), boating registrations and titling fees, fines, a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard Boat Safety Account, and other federal grants — all coming out of the pocket, in one way or another, of Ohio’s recreational boaters.
“Wise use” is part of the Division’s mission and responsible management of our fiscal resources is essential to fulfilling that mission, so identified issues were prioritized based on wise use of boater funds.
As requested by the boaters, the majority of the Division efforts, funding, and resources will be dedicated to implement these first four strategic issues:
• Develop new and maintain and upgrade existing boating access and facilities to enhance boating opportunities.
• Develop and implement a plan for waterways management to improve boater experiences.
• Increase and enhance boating education opportunities.
• Provide consistent, coordinated, and increased boating law enforcement/safety
The remaining issues will have teams assigned to address the objectives and strategies. However, the ability to fully fund and implement these strategies is based on available resources.
• Enhance revenue sources for the Division of Watercraft to fulfill service expectations of our customers.
• Improve and enhance the watercraft registration process.
• Get boating information to the people who need it.
• Improve water quality on boating waterways.
• Improve public boating areas through strategic dredging and/or debris removal.
• Research and enact uniform watercraft laws that promote safe and enjoyable recreational boating.
• Improve waterway markings for recreational boating.
The purpose of this plan is to create a viable strategy for the Division of Watercraft that will enable the agency to address issues important to the boating public. The Division is looking for innovative ways to enhance the recreational boating experience.
We are proud to present A Strategic Plan for Ohio Boating. The Division of Watercraft is extremely grateful for the input we have received. Without assistance from our constituents and customers — namely Ohio’s boaters — it would have been impossible to complete this planning process. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft’s A Strategic Plan for Ohio Boating is a plan for all Ohio boaters, encompassing the diverse boating interests of all our customers who share our desire to make boating a safer and more enjoyable activity for themselves and future generations.
If you can’t make the meeting, you can still have input. You can start by taking the ODNR survey: