Once the plan is in place, the consortium can look for federal environmental funds.
By JENNINE ZELEZNIK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
CHAMPION -- The Mahoning River Consortium is devising a watershed action plan to clean up and protect the Mahoning River's watershed.
Scott Martin, a professor at Youngstown State University, unveiled the steps to developing the plan during a meeting Friday at the Trumbull Campus of Kent State University.
The consortium received a grant of about $90,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund the plan's development.
What needs to be done: Several steps need to be taken, Martin explained, before problem areas can even be charted.
First, the group needs to develop a stakeholder list, composed of "anyone who has a concern for the environment, the quality of the river or its tributaries," Martin said.
Specifically, he is looking at local governments that are in the watershed, as well as businesses and environmentalists.
Next, he is looking to develop a planning task force -- ideally, by September -- and to develop and present a watershed inventory. The inventory would be developed by YSU students, probably by January.
Next, he would ask the general public to identify local issues within the watershed.
"No one knows [better] what the individual issues are in each little section of the watershed than the people who live there," Martin said.
Final step: After this, cleaning and protection goals and actions would finally be identified, then the plan would be drafted and finalized. The completion date for the plan is set for September 2002.
Only after this plan is in place will the consortium begin to be eligible for federal and state environmental grant money.
"The watershed plan is a first step for a lot of these sources of funding," Martin said. "Though it's a fair bet to say there won't be enough money to do everything we come up with."
The group plans to set priorities, however, and get done what they can.
"A lot of bits can still be fixed," Martin said. "We'll find the funding that we can."
If you are interested in becoming a stakeholder in this project, please contact Patricia Natali at OEPA at (330) 385-8447 or Scott Martin at YSU, (330) 742-3026.