For Immediate Release

March 13, 2023

Rural Action’s Watershed Program receives funds to improve water quality

Trimble, Ohio — Rural Action envisions a region with clean streams and healthy forests; a place
where thriving family farms, meaningful livelihoods, and vibrant communities exist for
everyone. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is supporting this vision by awarding
Rural Action a 319 grant to remove invasive plants and install native trees, restoring 18 acres of
floodplain along the Little Muskingum River in Washington County. Describing the project site,
Rural Action’s Water Quality Specialist Matt Ledford says, “The sun beats down on a field
choked with mats of invasive Reed canary grass. The occasional Autumn Olive and Multiflora
Rose break through, but there’s no space for native vegetation to take hold.”

The project, located on Wayne National Forest property, began October 1, 2022. Invasive
species removal is scheduled for 2023, and 5,250 native trees and shrubs will be planted in the
spring of 2024. “I see [this site harboring] a shaded stream and cool forest. A place where
warblers can return to breed and that provides salamanders with vernal pools to lay their
eggs,” said Ledford.

The Little Muskingum River is home to 73 fish and 22 mussel species including several that are
listed by the state of Ohio as threatened or endangered. Preserving and enhancing this high
quality stream is important to ensure that humans and wildlife continue to enjoy the benefits of
clean water. Problems such as erosion, excess nutrients, flow alteration and bacteria have been
identified as possible sources of pollution in this watershed. The project plans to address these problems
by removing invasive species and planting native species like elderberries and swamp white
oaks, which will create a foundation for other thriving wildlife. Rural Action is also actively
working to develop other projects that would amplify efforts to improve and preserve
water quality in the Little Muskingum River.

This project has been funded through a Section 319(h) Nonpoint Source Program grant from
the United States Environmental Protection Agency through an assistance agreement with the
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The section 319(h) grant program was established
within the Clean Water Act, enabling federal assistance for restoring water quality by reducing
nonpoint source pollutants such as nutrients, sediment and bacteria, and improving stream and
floodplain habitat.

Rural Action is a regional community development organization with a 32-county footprint
working with members and community leaders on a range of quality of life, environmental, and
economic projects across rural Appalachian Ohio. Its mission is to build a more just economy by
developing the region’s assets in environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways.
Learn more about Rural Action at



Nate Schlater
Watershed Program Director
740-677-4047 (ext. 360)

landscape photo of field

Image Caption: Non Native Invasive Species growing at the project site. Most notable in this photo are Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata).