348 Muskingum Drive vista@muskingumriver.org 740-374-4170

May Celebration!

While COVID may have kept us from having a lot of activities, it did not leave us idle.  Come see what we have accomplished in the past year and celebrate the great outdoors with us.

We re-established trail on the south side of the creek at Cabin Run, adding signs and other improvements to the existing trail so that we once again truly have a loop trail.  Additional trail is being built to take the vantage point offered by the powerline cut.

To celebrate spring, the new trails, our members and volunteers, we are having a month-long celebration.  As part of this celebration, we will have a special hike for children with hidden gnomes and fairies for them to find.  Visit our mailbox by the picnic shelter for a map with images of the gnomes and fairies.  These are located throughout the area near the river, where the hiking is relatively easy for shorter legs.  While there, be sure to also enjoy the spring wildflowers!  The statues will only be out for the month of May, though if this prove popular, we may do it again.  Hike is free of charge.

Also in May, we are having a photo competition.  Entry fee is $5, which can be mailed to us or submitted via PayPal.  Take a photo at Luke Chute - or any of our other properties - and email it to lowermuskingum@gmail.com for a chance to win one of our prizes.  Categories include: 1) wildlife; 2) plants and fungi; 3) landscape; 4) people enjoying nature and 5) action shots.  Prizes are listed on our Facebook page and include nature-themed face masks, free membership for one year, upcycled bags by Elin, and others.   Please let us know in the email which category or categories your photos should be entered in.  Prizes will be announced the first week of June, so make sure to submit by May 31st.

Also in May, we will be having an iNaturalist competition.  Entry is also $5, same as the photo competition. If you aren't familiar with iNaturalist, it is a free app available for Android and iPhone that lets you log observations of plants, animals, and fungi.  iNaturalist also helps you to identify the things you see, by just taking a photo with your phone and uploading it to their website.  iNaturalist automatically logs the GPS coordinates of your observation and if it is within our properties will add it to our project.  Why do this?  Well, iNaturalist data helps us to learn about the flora and fauna on our properties and allows us to document the conservation value of our properties.  Prizes will be awarded to the person who logs the most new observations (previously undocumented species) in the categories of 1) plants; 2) invertebrate animals; 3) vertebrate animals; and 4) fungi.  Prizes include nature-themed face masks (because, unfortunately, those aren't going away soon, I'm afraid), a one year membership, upcycled bags by Elin, and others.  See our Facebook page or iNaturalist.org for more information.


Why Should We Care About Plastic in the Muskingum River?

1. Plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes. The death of millions of animals is detrimental to biodiversity and ocean food chains.
2. NTP expressed “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.” . Bisphenol A is commonly known as BPA found in many plastic bottles.
3. In 2006, NTP (National Toxicology Program) found that DEHP may pose a risk to human development, especially critically ill male infants. DEHP is found in food packaging plastics.
4.Plastic can chemically bind with PCBs already found in the Muskingum River leading to a higher consumption of PCBs when a human or animal drinks water containing microplastics. PCBs are known to cause cancer and PCBs affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system and poses other health effects.
5. PCBs are the primary pollutant in the Muskingum River according to the EPA. The Muskingum River was accessed in 2008 and determined to be a polluted river. 
6. Invasive species can attach themselves on floating plastic which allows them to travel further distances in the ocean and invade new parts of the world disrupting the native environment. 
7. Much of the garbage in the Muskingum River will flow into the ocean. Much of it becomes microplastic which easy flows through any barriers. The plastic in the river poses an immediate risk to fish and birds who will consume microplastic, feel full, and then die from malnutrition.

Sources: Coastal Care, NCBI, National Health Institute of Environmental Health, Scientific American, EPA, EPA: How’s My Waterway, National Geographic, and Sky News Documentary: Plastic Pollution in our Oceans

Love of the Land: Executive Director, Tiffany’s story


I’ve always wished I could make others understand and feel the strong adoration I feel for nature. I’ve often searched for the right words to convey this deep conviction within me. I was at a nonprofit conference recently and someone conveyed their deep conviction for their cause to me using their story. This is my attempt to convey my love for nature and environmentalism to you using my story.

I grew up in rural West Virginia where I didn’t have much, but I had nature. I was surrounded by awe inspiring hills and valleys and pasture fields. Their beauty drew me outside on most days with my camera where I captured their beauty in different seasons. That beauty wasn’t the only thing encouraging me to leave my house. My home was a hostile place filled with the sound of my parents’ angry voices as they fought daily. I was filled with anxiety about whether my parents could pay our bills or put food on the table.

There was a really unique tree I would climb into. It grew on a steep hillside overlooking our bottom pasture. My mom took this photo of me right before I cozied into my tree where I would sing for hours and sometimes read books. My favorite goat, Syria, accompanied my on the rock next to me. I would occasionally scratch her head and feed her elm leaves, her favorite.It’s hard to explain how much I loved the land around me, but it helps to understand the relief it made me feel. In my house I was always walking on egg shells trying to avoid refereeing another argument while also trying to take control of my parents’ terrible financial situation. The fear would reach a point where I had trouble controlling my racing thoughts and I would become very withdrawn. I left for the land for some clarity. I would go outside and it was like I could switch the lense I was using to view the world. I remembered to breathe and exist in the present.

2008 was a tough year for a lot of people and it was especially hard for my family who relied on a factory job that was outsourced in 2008. I had placed a lot of significance on my sanctuaries on the land around my home and suddenly those sacred places were gone. Our home was one of the many homes foreclosed on in 2008. I lost the beautiful land that had once belonged to me, my escape, and my home. Later that year my parents also divorced. I grieved for many years over the loss of my family and my land. I still carry some pain with me today though it has transformed into motivation towards my work with Friends of Lower Muskingum River.


I suppose it isn’t surprising that I found this job directing a land trust organization. A land trust is a nonprofit organization that conserves and protects land by owning land outright or holding conservation easements. A land trust offers these outright owned properties for public access and protects and ensures restrictions are respected on conservation easement properties. These easements ensure that land with conservation value remains protected even with changes in land ownership.

I know how it feels to lose land that you love and I understand the importance of connecting with nature as a human being. In fact, there is a mcmansion built on the farm that once belonged to my family. Pictures are all I have now to remember how beautiful it was.


As Executive Director of FLMR I want to provide places for people to escape that they know will always exist, a place that will never be foreclosed on, developed, or polluted, places where humans can truly fall in love with land. I want you to help us do this by volunteering, donating, and advocating for land conservation. Please follow our facebook, twitter, and our website Muskingumriver.org to learn more about how you can help Friends of Lower Muskingum River.

Young Engineering and Science Days

I had a great time with Washington County 7th graders at the Young Engineer and Scientist Days. I spent 2 days teaching groups of 7th graders about watersheds and our impact on bodies of water. I learned that you don’t give a pitcher of water to a 7th grader and tell them to make it rain without telling them to do it carefully and slowly. It results in being drenched and having wet feet the remainder of the day 😂.

We are raising some wonderful youth here in Washington County and I was happy to spend two days with them teaching them about watersheds. Hopefully I inspired some young conservationists and environmentalists!

This is just one of many youth education programs FLMR presents in an effort to educate the public on environmental issues. Please donate to ensure we can continue to do this important education outreach.

Marietta College Row Team River Clean-up

On October 6, 2018 FLMR hosted a Muskingum River Clean-up on our Land Trust property at Devol’s Dam.
The Marietta College  Women’s and Men’s row teams volunteered collecting nearly 60 bags of garbage and recyclable including: tires, a TV, a buoy, a play pool, and MANY plastic water bottles.
Recyclable materials were taken to the Marietta Area Recycling Center. Thank you all volunteers at Marietta Area Recycling for sorting and processing river clean-up recycling.
Also thank you to all the Marietta College students and staff who volunteered during this event. FLMR staff and members are looking forward to many more river clean-ups.
Witnessing so many people involved in an event that made a positive impact on our local environment and beyond was incredible. The human impact that garbage is creating is insurmountable, but the display of care for the environment October 6th shows that  it’s possible for humanity to overcome this problem.
Please look for information about our fall river clean-ups on muskingumriver.org.

Tree of Heaven

The invasive species, Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is native to South China and Australia. It is a rapidly growing deciduous tree that can be found nearly everywhere in North America where it is prolific, Luke Chute Conservation Area is no exception. First introduced in Philadelphia in 1784, it was frequently used as an urban tree in Washington DC and Baltimore and it has since spread (2018, Jackson)

  1. Size: max 80-100 feet
  2. Bark: The bark of tree-of-heaven is smooth and green when young, eventually turning light brown to gray, resembling the skin of a cantaloupe.
  3. Leaves: Pinnately compound, leaves come from a central stem with lance shaped leaflets on either side.
  4. Twigs: Alternate
  5. Seeds: Found on female trees only. Samara or wings 1-4 inches long.


  • Tree of Heaven can be male or female. One female tree can seed up to 300,000 clones.
  • It produces allelopathic chemicals to prevent other plants from growing near it.
  • Tree of Heaven will grow anywhere that isn’t shaded. Not typically found where canopy is dense.
  • Can look like: Walnut, Sumac, or Hickory (2018, Jackson)

Invasive plants easily grow in our native environment because our environment lacks the predators and pests that control the invasive plant in its natural environment; thereby, causing major disruption in our native ecosystem. Native plants lose ever diminishing real estate leading to a lack of biodiversity and habitat degradation. Invasive species also threaten endangered species. Around 42% of current endangered species are endangered due to invasive species (2016, Wisconsin DNR).

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. A healthy biodiversity provides several natural services for everyone:

  • Ecosystem services, such as
    • Protection of water resources
    • Soils formation and protection
    • Nutrient storage and recycling
    • Pollution breakdown and absorption
    • Contribution to climate stability
    • Maintenance of ecosystems
    • Recovery from unpredictable events
  • Biological resources, such as
    • Food
    • Medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs
    • Wood products
    • Ornamental plants
    • Breeding stocks, population reservoirs
    • Future resources
    • Diversity in genes, species and ecosystems
  • Social benefits, such as
    • Research, education and monitoring
    • Recreation and tourism
    • Cultural values (1998, Shah)

This Fall FLMR will be hosting Pollinator Habitat Workdays at the Luke Chute Conservation Area located 5 miles from the SR 266 and Route 60 junction. Five miles before Stockport, OH. We will be removing Tree of Heaven from 9AM-12PM on Sept. 22, Sept. 27, and Oct. 27th.

“We will mostly be dealing with small saplings in sandy soil, so we will mainly be pulling or digging them out. On larger trees we cut them down and paint the stump with an herbicide. We prefer not using herbicides, but tree of heaven will often send up multiple roots sprouts for years if you don’t kill the root system.  It’s possible to eventually kill the root system by continually cutting the root sprouts until you exhaust the reserves in the roots, but this isn’t always practical as it takes much more work and won’t be successful unless you are diligent”, Katy Lustofin, FLMR President and Professor of Biology at Marietta College.


Jackson, D. R. (2018). Tree of Heaven. https://extension.psu.edu/tree-of-heaven

Wisconsin DNR (2016). Why we should Care. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/care.html

Shah, Anup (1998). Why is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares? http://www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares


Dana Island Workday





Dana Island is looking great after our workday this past weekend. All signs and our pond are now visible. Several willows were removed by our volunteers from the pond which were home to many ants.

Trails are also clear and ready for a nice stroll through the conservation area. Dana Island Conservation Area features easy trail for all ages. Bring the whole family. Below are directions.

We also had some drone video and photos taken by Tony Brown from Brown Owl Imaging. Look for those photos on our website coming soon! Also check out Brown Owl Imaging for drone and photography. He does great work.

From Route 60 in Waterford, cross the Muskingum River on 339. Turn left onto CR 4 (Waterford Road). After about 2 miles, turn left onto Culver Run Rd (Township Rd 145). The road will end in a T-intersection with Muskingum River Road; turn left at this intersection. After passing under the railroad tracks, turn right onto Pit Road (gravel). Dana Island Conservation Area is about 0.2 miles down Pit Road, on the left.

Muskingum River Sweep

On June 16, 2018 FLMR hosted a Muskingum River Sweep on our Land Trust property at Devol’s Dam.

Twelve volunteers gathered 25 large garbage bags of trash from three major piles of debris along the Muskingum River from 9AM-12PM.

Afterwards, volunteers enjoyed pizza donated by Smitty’s Pizza located on Front Street in Marietta Ohio.

Recyclable materials were taken to the Marietta Area Recycling Center.

It was heartwarming to witness so many people involved in an event that has such a major impact on our local environment and beyond. The human impact that garbage is creating is insurmountable and enough to overwhelm anyone, but the display of care for the environment I saw this weekend makes me feel that it’s possible for humanity to overcome this problem.

We took small steps towards a solution to the problem this weekend but we still made a difference and that is something that all the volunteers who partook in the river sweep should take pride in.

Please look for information on our fall river sweep on muskingumriver.org.