SWCD begins Killbuck Creek log jam clean-up project

SWCD begins Killbuck Creek log jam clean-up project
Dave Mast

Log jams along the Killbuck Creek like this one are causing problems with water flow. A recent resolution from the Holmes County commissioners will allow Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District to tackle the clean-up of these types of jams.


Over the decades, Killbuck Creek has faced its fair share of flooding. When the creek gets high, a large amount of debris consisting mainly of logs and branches have built up at certain spots along the way.

Work is nearly underway to alleviate some of that build-up and on Monday, Sept. 19, the Holmes County commissioners passed a resolution providing funds to move forward with the effort to clear portions of the creek.

According to Karen Gotter, watershed coordinator for the Killbuck Creek, the SWCD happened upon the opportunity to work with the River Rangers, a group out of Ohio that helps communities manage log jams and debris in creeks and rivers.

She said their big initiative is to clean up waterways so people can get out and enjoy canoeing or paddling them safely.

Holmes County Soil & Water Conservation District went to the Holmes County commissioners with a request for $6,500 to begin a clean-up project on the Killbuck Creek that will alleviate several log jams that are causing issues.

While Holmes County is seeing its share of clogging in the creek, where it really becomes an issue is further south into Coshocton County, but for now to focus will be on removing jams between Millersburg and Killbuck.

“We’ve worked closely with Holmes Soil & Water to get this project rolling,” said Holmes County commissioner Dave Hall. “Once we get the initial clearing done, we will work together to assess other potential problems along the creek and how we can best get rid of those issues.”

Hall said Holmes County engineer Chris Young’s staff will do a flyover along the entirety of the creek to assess the damage and where log jamming issues are taking place.

“It’s the first step, and a very worthwhile cause,” added commissioner Joe Miller.

Gotter said the goal is to remove several troublesome areas between Millersburg and Killbuck, then they will allow Young’s crew to explore the creek from County Line 1 at the north edge of the county to Millersburg.

She said the commissioner’s funding will allow the flyover scouting project to take place.

“What that will do is develop a plan for us,” Gotter said. “It will help us identify problem areas and set priorities.”

Unfortunately, the county had already identified many of the problem areas, only to see recent storms shut down the effort in June. Gotter said the storm created many unknowns.

She went on to say that the hope is Holmes and Coshocton County SWCDs can unite to tag-team the clean-up effort as Holmes County moves south toward the Coshocton portion of Killbuck Creek.

“It would be neat to partner with Coshocton to do more of a watershed approach,” Gotter said. “The Appalachian Ohio Initiative may be one way we can partner with them.”

Gotter said creating a safe and beautiful waterway along Killbuck Creek not only creates a better area for aquatic life, it becomes more inviting for people both in and outside of the county to utilize.

She said while the Killbuck Creek won’t ever be the same type of attraction the Mohican River is for travelers, it can be a fun and attractive excursion for folks wishing to canoe or raft, so making it clean and keeping a good flow will help.

She added that because of the wildlife along the creek, it becomes an attractive option for those enjoy bird watching and nature.

“While we want to clear the jams, it’s important to remember that we don’t want to disturb the natural habitats in and around the creek,” Gotter said.

She said the hope is that they have the initial jams between Millersburg and Killbuck cleared soon, adding value to Holmes County and to the habitat, opening up additional funding opportunities for the SWCD to pursue aside from the seed money the commissioners provided.

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