MOUNT VERNON – In 2016, the City of Mount Vernon started taking steps to address the Kokosing River corridor along Ariel-Foundation Park and Phillips Drive.
With the aid of the ODNR Scenic Rivers Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Shade Tree and Beautification Commission, Ariel Foundation, Foundation Park Conservancy and the Mount Vernon Stormwater Utility, the City identified three areas of degraded habitat and active erosion along the scenic Kokosing River.
“The great thing about all of these projects is that they will ensure that the scenic Kokosing River and the lakes at Ariel-Foundation Park will be structurally intact for many years so that generations of residents and visitors can continue to enjoy the areas for the beautiful scenery they will establish, the recreation that will continue to be available and the aquatic habitats that they will help to sustain,” Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr said.
In March of this year the City of Mount Vernon started construction along three areas of the Kokosing River for both habitat improvement and river bank stability, which were completed by Environmental Remediation Contractor, and Tucson Inc. in June.
Three main phases of work were completed within the Armstrong Run watershed: West Lake, Norton Street and Phillips Drive.
To take on these projects, the City acquired two grants and matched funds locally. The City’s Stormwater Utility contributed to the local match for an Ohio EPA 319(h) grant for $300,000, along with a $200,000 grant from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.
All three phases have been a great success, the city stated in a press release. The phase one area at West Lake now has a reinforced raised bank built of limestone rock material that will help allow the waters between the lake and river to intermingle, which will help minimize the risk of a future breach or washout of the entire structure.
Phase two along Norton Street and the East Lake has shown successful re-establishment of protective, native vegetation along the rebuilt, tiered riverbank. Phase three’s cross-vane features that were installed along the Phillips Drive riparian corridor have helped direct the river flow away from the bank to the center of the river to keep erosion to a minimum and protective vegetation growing along the newly restored bank.
“We will continue to take action in restoring the natural habitat in and around Mount Vernon, and hope that citizens will also look for ways that they can contribute to restoration and conservation efforts for the nature that surrounds us in Mount Vernon, such as participating in the river clean-up,” Starr said.
Each year, Knox County Recycling and Litter Prevention organizes a river clean-up along the Kokosing and Mohican rivers and associated creeks that flow through Knox County, and this year’s clean-up is just a few weeks away on Saturday, Sept. 18. Citizens can participate in the clean-up by joining the volunteers at the CA&C Depot on Sept. 18 at 9 a.m.
This event will make a huge impact not only along our local stretch of waterways but downstream as well to ensure that all connected waterways are kept clean and maintained. For more information about the river restoration project and other updates, visit mountvernonohio.org. For questions about the river clean-up event, contact Recycling Coordinator Matt Baugher at 740-393-6704.