A Closer Look

News Story – 2nd Place

– By Kyle Valentini, Bargain Hunter

About a dozen individuals gathered at Tuscarawas Memorial Community Park in the village of Tuscarawas for the seventh annual Mud Run Watershed Spring Tour on Saturday, June 15.

Mud Run is a 10-square-mile watershed that is located in Tuscarawas County and is impacted by the unregulated coal mining of the past.

Participants visited three sites throughout the Mud Run Watershed to learn about the process of acid mine drainage mitigation and environmental restoration taking place in the watershed.

They also heard about Trenton Heritage Park and the historic role the canal systems had in the development of the region.

The tour took local residents along with individuals from Massillon and as far away as Youngstown to the Boltz Road Bridge near Tusky, where they learned about aquatic macroinvertebrate monitoring at the main stem of Mud Run.

This site allows Rural Action and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management to assess the health of the stream by checking the type and the number of macroinvertebrate species present.

ODNR biologist Chad Kinney was on hand to explain the monitoring and its importance. “Keeping an eye on the bugs, the macroinvertebrates, allows us to tell how healthy the stream is and if it will support a diversified fish population,” Kinney said. “Different types of bugs have different tolerance to pollution, and that can give us a lot of information.”

Kinney has been a biologist for 15 years, 11 of which he has spent at ODNR. “We’ve seen a lot of improvement in the water quality,” he said. “We see more species of fish thriving than we have in the past.”

Near the same Boltz Road location at the opposite side of the bridge, a fish shocking demonstration facilitated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency gave visitors the opportunity to see the variety of fish species that live in the stream.

Just as the name implies, specialized equipment is used to emit an electrical pulse into the water and stun any nearby fish. This is a common scientific survey method used to sample fish populations to determine abundance, density and species composition. When performed correctly, fish shocking results in no permanent harm to fish, which are returned to their natural habitat shortly after being caught.

While some pollution-tolerant fish can withstand a wide variety of water conditions, the expanded range of pollution-sensitive fish species is an indicator of water-quality improvements in the watershed and a goal the partner organizations strive for. T

he final stop on the tour took guests to Trenton Heritage Park, where Tuscarawas County Historical Society President David Hipp shared information about the Trenton Feeder Canal and the Old State Dam.

The Trenton Feeder provided water to the Ohio & Erie Canal at the southern end of Lock 16, one of only 10 such feeder canals along the 308 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal and was one of only two wide enough to be navigable to canal boats.

Transportation was provided to participants to each of the sites, and a complementary lunch followed at Tuscarawas Memorial Community Park.

For more information call the Middle Tuscarawas River Watershed office of Rural Action at 330-859-1050.