The project

Frontier Boat LaunchThe Ohio River Parks Project is:

* A research project

How many public spaces that provide access to the Ohio River are there along its north bank? To what extent does each of these spaces contribute to clean water by offering tree cover and permeable surface? To what extent can the public learn about the ecology of the Ohio River through information provided at these public spaces? To what extent can the public engage with the river itself at each of these spaces? We expect to find that there is a small number of public spaces, that they are similar to each other, that they are predominantly green spaces, that all of them offer a certain amount of information about the Ohio River, and that most of them provide opportunities to view the river and to get on it, but few of them offer the chance to drink river water or eat riparian plants and animals.

* An art/design project

The data collected for each of the parks is transformed into a graphic image that captures the character of each park. When shown together this series of images illustrates the great diversity and richness of this this system of parks. Each image is available as a digital archival inkjet print.

* A transportation project

If there were a biking trail along the Ohio, or a kayaking trail on it, then kinds of people who live in the Ohio River watershed but who are not currently engaged with the river would have more opportunities to appreciate it and to work to improve the quality of its water.

* An economic development project

The Great Allegheny Passage, a rail line converted into a bike trail that runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, demonstrates that creating low impact tourism opportunities like bicycling creates opportunities for entrepreneurs in small rural towns to build new businesses such as B&Bs, campgrounds, restaurants, stores, and provisioners. This project demonstrates that the road and landing infrastructure, and places for bike and kayak camping already exist. Establishing bike and kayak trails along the Ohio could have the same positive economic impact on small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

* A history project

When these parks provide histories they typically focus on a limited number of topics: important local men of the 19th century, steamboats, and floods. Looking at all of these histories together creates opportunities to write a linked series of histories that would explore various aspects of the ecology and environment of the Ohio River in greater depth. The geology of the river and the histories of the First Peoples who lived along the river from the Protoindian through the Woodland Indian period are especially neglected.

* A food project

As the plethora of farmers’ markets and restaurants focusing on local foods demonstrates, one important way that people connect with the places they live is by eating local food. Other ocean, lake, and river shores offer the opportunity to eat local seafood. Recreating the river life and edible riparian products that our ancestors ate prior to the middle of the 20th century would create a connection to the river throughout its watershed.

* A systems project

Each one of these parks, individually, is not very important. Identifying each of these places as part of a larger system creates a new landscape that is richer in experiences, more diverse in a wider variety of opportunities, and attractive to more kinds of people. Together we can create a newer, cleaner Ohio River.

The research team cannot accomplish all of these goals on its own. If you or your organization would like to be involved in this project, please contact us using the form on the Contact page.