Scioto County may spend up to $75,000 in order to improve access to the water for paddle sports like canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The good news is the county will get all of that money back thanks to a grant program from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The money comes from fees imposed on the state’s recreational boaters by the Waterways Safety Fund. This includes money generated by the state motor fuel tax, watercraft registration, and boat title fees. However, in order to get the money, the county has to spend it first and be reimbursed.
Commissioner Bryan Davis quoted a favorite saying of late Commissioner Mike Crabtree. “This is a prime example of where, if you have money, you can do things. If you don’t have money, you can’t do things. It’s a reimbursable grant but we have to have the upfront money to do the work. Then once the work is done, we can go back and claim it. Prime example.”
Project Hopefully First of Many
Commissioner Scottie Powell said, “As we look at our waterways in Scioto county there are no current public access spots on the Scioto River. There is only one current public access point on the Scioto Brush Creek.”
Powell said the county is increasingly becoming a destination for people looking to enjoy the great outdoors. “Our community is shifting towards a destination for nature with all the mountain biking trails and the hiking and, of course, what ODNR is doing in West Portsmouth. A piece of that puzzle is our waterway access and how do we start opening that up.”
ODNR is in the process of converting the former golf course at Shawnee State park into a paddleboard and kayaking course. There are also long-range plans to upgrade the marina, add a zipline over the marina, build an amphitheater, and add luxury campsites.
Commissioner Powell said the county has its eye on some property already. “I hesitate to even say what that property is because we don’t have permission yet. We are looking at ODOT property and right-of-ways to be able to start putting in different access points. The goal is to have multiple access points. Whether somebody wants to do a 4-hour trip, an 8-hour trip on any of our different bodies of water. It will be open for our public to enjoy and ultimately our visitors to enjoy. This is the first step in seeing that vision come through.”
Bryan Davis added, ” It’s exciting. Very exciting. Wonderful project. Hope it’s just the first of many.”