INTERVIEW with Steve Roloson, Regional Scenic River Manager, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves
What do you do to support sustainable development in Ohio?
As one of Ohio’s four regional scenic river managers, I facilitate cooperative efforts between local government officials, landowners and conservation organizations to protect the water quality and aquatic diversity of Ohio’s state designated wild and scenic rivers.
These rivers, shown on the map, represent the best of the state’s remaining high quality waterways. I have found that partnering with local watershed groups, such as land trusts and sportsman organizations, is an effective way to protect these streams.
How are high quality rivers protected?
Land features, such as floodplains, steep slopes, wetlands, riparian forest buffers and headwater tributaries, play a role in protecting the health of a river corridor.
Protecting these lands by purchasing properties or placing permanent deed restrictions on them through conservation easements provides future protection for state scenic rivers. For this reason, landowners play an important role in river conservation.
Landowners may enter into conservation easement agreements to protect corridor lands from future development. Scenic river managers provide technical advice to landowners and municipalities, as well as monitor compliance with conservation easement restrictions.
Are there other ways these streams may be protected?
For publicly funded projects, such as bridge replacements, dam removals and sewer line installations, which fall outside of municipal boundaries but within 1,000 feet of designated rivers, the Ohio Revised Code requires the approval of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program. Scenic river managers perform environmental reviews to ensure that these type of public projects only minimally impact the water quality and diversity of a scenic river.
How can citizens become involved in river conservation?
Stream quality monitoring of macroinvertebrates, such as I am doing in the photo, is an excellent tool to gauge the quality of a stream. This is because some macroinvertebrates, such as mayfly larvae, require high quality streams to survive and thus are indicators of stream health.
The Ohio Stream Quality Monitoring Project relies on volunteers, as seen in the photograph to the right, to compile biological information for scenic rivers. This program enables us to see first-hand any changes in water quality. Volunteers are also vital to the success of local river cleanups and other local events.
What is most challenging about your job?
Ohio’s rivers and the communities which surround them are constantly changing. Although there are many aspects to river management, it is critical that as a scenic rivers manager I continue to remind local officials and landowners that the decision they make today will impact their river tomorrow.