The Rocky Fork State Park Marina is one of 23 newly-certified Ohio Clean Marinas, as recognized by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Sea Grant.
The designation is a voluntary certification program which recognizes marinas that choose to implement conservation practices known to improve the environmental and economic aspects of their operations, according to an ODNR press release.
Some of the added measures include the incorporation of pollinator programs and monofilament fishing line recycling bins, as well as planting native species. Additionally, the initiative offers boating education programs such as how to prevent the transport of aquatic invasive species to other bodies of water.
The certification is another positive step for a region of Highland County that recently celebrated a big win when it was awarded a grant of more than $800,000 to fight crime and improve economic conditions at Rocky Fork Lake. The project was one of just 10 such awards that were made nationally.
The Rocky Fork Lake Area Safety and Advancement Planning Process (RFL-ASAP) project won the award in October after a planning process that began in 2014. The grant from the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance “was the result of over 18 months of hard work and planning by our entire cross sector collaborate, including our partners at Ohio University,” according to LuAnn Winkle, director of Turning Point Applied Learning Center, who led the project.
The grant was technically awarded to the Highland County Commissioners, but commissioners credited Winkle for the win. The funding is designed to help communities develop comprehensive strategies that target neighborhoods with hot spots of crime and violence. Tackling crime in the lake area and improving overall economic development opportunities there is a key objective of those who say the lake has untapped potential both for county residents and as a tourist destination.
The RFL-ASAP plan includes: working with Highland County Community Action Organization (HCCAO) to create a land bank; having an HCCAO representative in the lake region; working with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office to identify areas of interest around the lake; having a community-oriented officer in the lake area; having all deputies at the sheriff’s office trained in community-oriented policing; implementing a 411 anonymous tip line; working with the Highland County Department of Health for a part-time sanitation officer in the lake area; and creating a contract position to address economic development at the lake, with a focus on recreation and tourism.
In regard to the clean marina designation, marinas throughout the state have taken steps to keep Ohio’s bodies of water clean and healthy for recreational and environmental purposes, according to ODNR. Seventy-one marinas in Ohio have been certified as Ohio Clean Marinas, and an additional 45 marinas have committed to meet the program’s certification standards.
Other nearby newly-certified Ohio Clean Marinas were the Paint Creek State Park Marina in Ross County and the Caesar Creek State Park Marina in Warren County.
The Ohio Clean Marinas Program is a partnership between Ohio Sea Grant and ODNR, which started in 2005. Financial assistance for the program is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce through the Ohio Coastal Management Program, administered by the ODNR Office of Coastal Management. Additional funding is provided by the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft and Ohio Sea Grant.
Additional information about the Ohio Clean Marinas and Ohio Clean Boater programs, including a marina certification checklist and clean boater tips, can be found online at ohioseagrant.osu.edu/clean and can be obtained by calling the Ohio Clean Marinas Program staff at 419-609-4120.