Raccoon Creek struggles to maintain a diverse and healthy ecosystem. Abandoned surface and undergraound coal mines leach thousands of pounds of sulfuric acid and metals into the creek each day. The environmental pressures of growing communities and run-off from abandoned mine sites, roads, and fields continue to degrade the habitat. Industrial discharge, trash and untreated sewage rob the creek of oxygen, which is vital to the survival of all aquatic species.
Restoration began with a grassroots effort …
During the 1980’s, a group of concerned citizens in Gallia County joined together to discuss the degraded condition of the creek. They became the Raccoon Creek Improvement Committee (RCIC), and they dedicated themselves to preserving Raccoon Creek and educating those who live within the watershed. The group organized trash pickups and logjam removals, but quickly realized that the problems were very complex and reached beyond the boundaries of Gallia County. To truly restore the health of the watershed, more resources such as more partners, influential stakeholders and greater citizen involvement would be necessary.
…which led to the Raccoon Creek Watershed Project…
In the 1990’s, citizens from all six counties in the Raccoon Creek watershed were invited to join RCIC restoration efforts, initiating a total watershed approach. RCIC developed the grant funding and partnerships necessary to undertake the kind of reclamation effort that would restore the health of Raccoon Creek. Their effort had four components:
◦Community Involvement and Outreach
◦Greenways, Linear Space, and Riparian Corridor Protection
◦Acid Mine Drainage Abatement/Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation
◦Environmental Education and Ecological Awareness.
… and finally, in the fall of 2007 the Raccoon Creek Partnership formed!
Although the RCIC stopped meeting after nearly a decade of watershed work, the technical committees continued to work and pursue water quality projects in the watershed. As renewed interest in Raccoon Creek began swelling in the last couple of years it was determined to create a watershed partnership that would incorporate citizens and agencies to improve Raccoon Creek. A committee of both watershed residents and agency partners developed bylaws and became incorporated with the State of Ohio in February of 2007. An interim board was created which applied for and recieved tax exempt status from the IRS in 2007 as well. The Raccoon Creek Partnership held its first annual meeting and elected its first 7 member board of directors in October of 2007.