XENIA — Hope Taft of the Little Miami Watershed Network (LMWN), and Bill Schieman of the Little Miami Conservancy spoke to the Greene County Board of Commissioners Thursday and gave an overview of the Little Miami Watershed Survey results.
The LMWN and the Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, just completed a seven-month study along a 43-mile stretch of the northern Little Miami River corridor from the Village of Clifton downstream to Oregonia (an unincorporated community), on the east shore of the river, south of Waynesville.
According to the study,”The Value of Outdoor Recreation in the Little Miami River Corridor,” the survey reports the value of the Little Miami River to the surrounding communities and local businesses. It also explores the types of recreational usage, user demographics, frequency, duration of visits, and other useful data.
“Sometimes we don’t appreciate the assets in our own backyard as much as people from outside our county,” said Commissioner Tom Koogler when he heard how many visitors traveled over several counties to enjoy the attributes of the Little Miami River corridor in Greene County.
Some survey results presented included:
— Top three activities when visiting the corridor were hiking/walking, biking on a paved trail, running/jogging, followed by paddling, fishing, and birding.
— Visitors took, on average, 4.8 trips to the river corridor each year.
— The largest number of trips occurred in May and June. The northern part of the river, which includes the Village of Yellow Springs, Glen Helen Nature Preserve, John Bryan State Park, and Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, had the largest number of visitors throughout the season.
— Xenia Station and the Corwin bike parking lot had the highest recreational value for biking, with Yellow Springs having the third highest value.
— 836,000 trips took place to 445 sites along 43 miles of the Little Miami River.
— Across the 43 river miles studied, recreation generates $346,500 per mile, per year.
— The study calculated the Little Miami contributed $14.9 million in total recreational and local economic value.
In the past 12 years, the LMWN has pulled out more than 28,5000 pounds of trash and more than 1,000 tires from the Greene County section of the river.
The survey for park visitors was developed in Qualtrics and could be accessed by scanning a QR code and completed online using a mobile device. More than 2,400 individuals responded to this survey, but some of these responses were excluded from the estimates because they were incomplete.
The study, which took place from April through October 2021, developed an approach to estimate visitor numbers and visitor value for recreational trips in the northern Little Miami River corridor. The survey team of 20 volunteers developed a sampling procedure that allowed them to estimate the number of trips taken to each site and the dollar value of those trips.
The survey took into account a number of factors: Weather analysis, travel cost, daily precipitation, COVID-19, and others.
The survey results were compiled into a booklet prepared by Taft, Schiemen, Abigail Longstretch, Brent Sohngen, and Cris Barnett.
“We hope you all will continue to speak up for the river,” Taft said.
The northern stretch of the Little Miami River was designated a static scenic river in 1969 after Ohio passed its Scenic River Act in 1968. Following passage of the federal Wild and Scenic River Act, the entire length of the river was designated as a scenic river by the state and the federal government.