Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District
Mission StatementThe Muskingum Watershed
Conservancy District is dedicated to conservation and recreation conducted
in harmony with flood control in the area of Ohio drained by the Muskingum
River and its tributaries. Funded from income generated by the stewardship
of its lands and waters, the Conservancy District strives to enhance the
quality of life in the Muskingum Lakes Region and beyond.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) was created in 1933
for the purpose of flood control and conservation. But the great flood of
1913 was primarily responsible for the initial idea of the development of
a Conservancy District.
The 1913 flood in Ohio caused great devastation in loss of life and
property. After the flood, citizens pledged more than two million dollars
to learn how future disasters might be prevented. In 1917, the Ohio
Conservancy Act was passed. The new law permitted citizens of a threatened
area to work together to plan, finance and manage a flood control project.
Under the law a watershed area could be organized into a conservancy
district, with the status of a political subdivision of the state and a
public corporation. The Conservancy District would have the power to plan,
construct and administer flood control and conservation projects.
Formation of MWCD
MWCD was formed in 1933. The original mandate for MWCD was to raise the
necessary funds, and then plan, build and administer flood control and
conservation projects. By 1938, the construction of 13 earthen dams and
one concrete dam was completed. Responsibility for flood control was
transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the Flood Control Act
of 1939. MWCD is still responsible for conservation and recreation on its
lands and waters, and works with the U.S. Army Corps of engineers to
assist with flood control.
The dams creating the reservoirs for flood water retention were placed
on the main tributaries of the Muskingum River. The reservoirs were placed
there so the peak flow from any flood would be so reduced that communities
along the main river would be safe. A natural offshoot of the flood
control was due to the large reservoirs created, and the large public
lands have been developed into camping areas, parks, lakes, marinas and
What is a Watershed?
When it rains, water flows down hill -- but where that water goes helps
explain a watershed. At any point in a water course, it drains to certain
rivers and lakes. The Muskingum Watershed includes all of the area which
drains into to the Muskingum River and its tributaries where it joins with
the Ohio River.
Size of MWCD
MWCD is the largest conservancy district in the state, encompassing 18
counties, or one-fifth of the state. MWCD is bounded by Akron to the
north, Marietta to the South, Mansfield to the west and Cadiz to the east.
The 18 counties include Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey,
Harrison, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Richland,
Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Washington, and Wayne.
How MWCD is Administered
The organization is governed by a Conservancy Court made up of one common
pleas court judge from each of the 18 counties in MWCD. MWCD was created
by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Court under the provision
of the Ohio Conservancy Act. The court appoints the five person Board of
Directors who oversee the operations of the MWCD. The headquarters of the
Conservancy District is in New Philadelphia, near the geographical center
of the Conservancy District. MWCD is a local agency of government, not
Federal or State.
Four Basic Policies of MWCD
|MWCD pays real estate taxes to the various counties
on land not dedicated to public use. |
|MWCD would operate on a minimum of tax income. MWCD
is a government agency which receives no direct tax revenue for
|MWCD makes its lands and waters available for a
variety of recreational uses including fishing, hunting, boating,
camping, swimming and other outdoor activities. |
|MWCD does not duplicate the same work as any other
federal or state agency. This policy encourages MWCD to combine the
resources and efforts of state and federal agencies into MWCD programs.|
MWCD operates on a self-sustaining basis - paid through
visitors' fees, commercial and residential leases, contract services for
other agencies, and federal and state grants.
Conservation is a key activity of MWCD assisting with flood control and
providing income to the Conservancy District. An initial land use study
was done of the MWCD lands adjoining its permanent lakes. The study found
the majority of the land to be hilly, and badly eroded. All had originally
been in timber. The study recommended these lands be utilized for forestry
production. Forestry is now MWCD's main conservation activity. More than
12 million trees have already been planted and other original stands
improved through conservation efforts.