Digging into the Topic: Soil Erosion in NEO

9122018_SMPJ_Erosion_e_3I’ve written a lot about my time as a young boy in the scouts and going to West Branch. Well, I’m writing about it again. Within the state park, there is a section for “group camps.” Large plots of the park for your scout troop or corporate weekend retreat.

At this site there’s a sheer drop off of about 20 feet to the clay beachhead below. Other scouts and I would go down there, following a steep trail till we were below the “cliff” and did what any young boy surrounded by mud would do. We threw it at each other.

I went back to that campsite recently to help a friend with their project on human interaction with nature. I was ecstatic to show her my old stomping grounds and this hallmark of my childhood.

But, when we went to find the same trail I trekked hundreds of times before, it was gone. It was a steep drop off instead of a gradual walk down to the water. We went further down the trail, same issue, the rest of the trail was gone. It eroded.

Erosion has become a major issue over the years for Ohio, with the The Lake Erie Coastal Erosion Problem taking center stage, and rightfully so.

There are numerous lakefront houses, businesses and buildings which are within 25 feet of the bluff, or edge, of a landmass that is being eroded. Half are within 50 feet of the bluff, and  “ Many were further from the bluff when they were built,” according to the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Geological Survey.

The study goes on to address that this issue is not just that of private landowners, given that most of the land along the lakefront is state owned. There are numerous areas of public land, parks, marinas, etc at risk of dealing with serious erosion issues in the coming years.

The reason why erosion is such an issue goes beyond private or public property. Soil erosion, be it natural or not, greatly affects the health of waterways.

The EPA lists sediment pollution as “the most common pollutant in rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs.” Granted, the vast majority of that pollution, approximately 70 percent, is human made via construction and other activities.

Heavy sedimentation in water can destroy the natural habitats of stream dwelling creatures and can greatly affect fish populations. Excess sedimentation can also stunt aquatic vegetal growth, further compounding the problem.

While sedimentation pollution is a serious issue there is a great deal that can be done to mitigate it. From changing driveway cleaning habits to better protocols on construction sites. More information on how to mitigate sediment pollution, and by extension erosion, can be found here.
My photos from the shoreline From the “group campsite” at West Branch State Park


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