Local environmental group hopes to
J. Patrick Eaken
local environment group is forming with hopes of addressing
environmental concerns along the western basin of Lake
Bihn, former City of Oregon finance director, and others, many of
whom like herself live along the lakefront, are forming the Maumee
Bay Association. Currently, the association is seeking nonprofit
status in order to obtain funds and lobby to protect the environment
from what they say is a history of abuse by
Maumee Bay Association has been low key up to recently, but Mrs.
Bihn has not always been. She is well known for her experience
during her tenure as finance director in dealing with environmental
group's membership, which meets monthly, has grown to nearly 100
people. When the group attains its nonprofit status, dues will
become formalized and then grants will be sought, another area Mrs.
Bihn has knowledge of from her previous tenure. Members have begun
making trips to Columbus and Washington, D.C. to lobby their views
in a political environment.
are going to apply for a grant for some educational purposes," Mrs.
Bihn explains. "I'm not sure we're going to get it but by applying
for a nonprofit organization we could be able to get more grants and
do more studies and more research and hopefully educate and advocate
the Maumee Bay and a better water shed."
of their primary goals is to see to it that Maumee Bay becomes
officially designated as a bay. In turn, they say their group,
although open to membership, will also begin actively recruiting
environmentally aware individuals across the bay in places like
Point Place and Michigan.
has about five miles of shoreline. Maumee Bay, we found out, is
about 16 square miles, its average depth is less than five feet. It
is a very fragile body of water that lies between the western basin
of Lake Erie and the Maumee River. In most documents, you'll see the
bay is not listed there and it is important that it is recognized as
a bay and it's important that this water shed is protected," Bihn
like to see it happen. I'm not exactly sure what the vehicles are to
do that. We're still looking at how we can most effectively raise
these issues. There are more people getting involved in these issues
including everybody here.
of the long term goals is to write a history of the Oregon shore
line and perhaps the whole Bay Shore shore line and talk about the
transitions and changes it's had and the people involved, including
those who are criticized, and keep a history and to document
example, she believes when completed the Maumee River Crossing
currently under construction will help people finally realize what
an asset Lake Erie is to Toledo and northwest Ohio. Not just to
local residents but to others traveling from abroad as
new bridge is going to give a perspective of Toledo that people
haven't had. I think it's going to show the mouth of the Maumee
River and you'll be able to see it aerially. A lot of the public
will be able to see it that have not been able to see it before,"
think from a perspective, the waterfront is a real magnet and I
think the world will continue to grow and therefore, I believe, with
the new bridge and Maumee Bay State Park and the other things is
that the quality of life has generally been increasing and we would
hope as an organization to continue to advocate for that and to
clean up some of the existing problems."
she says, allowing a coking plant to come to Toledo is not a good
step in that direction. For example, despite the coke plant's
state-of-the-art technology the group says they can document that
mercury will be emitted. They say there is currently no mandate for
a permit to be issued to monitor mercury levels, yet at the same
time an advisory exists limiting how much Lake Erie perch and
walleye people should eat because of mercury
group's members vary in age and experience, but some of the older
members remember a day when you could eat as much Lake Erie fish as
you wanted. They also remember some of the old factories once
located in East Toledo and Oregon, such as a former coking plant
that left dust and residue in its wake.
(industrial emissions) not good for the environment, it's not good
for the water shed, not good for people to breathe. The American
Lung Association, an allergy and asthma organization, says we're the
seventh worst city in the country when it comes to allergies and
asthma," Mrs. Bihn contends.
concerns include dredging that takes place in the bay so ships can
enter the port as well as the effect agricultural runoff has had on
the water shed. The group cites the problems experienced in Harbor
View because of residue blown into the community by prevailing
winds, but they say they also understand the importance of industry
example, although members of the Maumee Bay Association would like
to see the dredging stopped, they say they understand it cannot be
stopped and does have a value to the community. In turn, they would like to
offer solutions, such as taking dredge material to mines in Southern
Ohio or filling in Lake Erie islands that have gradually eroded over
the group formalizes and makes their stand, Mrs. Bihn says they want
to operate by educating, providing alternatives, and hopefully they
will begin to have a voice in the community.
think it is important from a health perspective and everything else
that we look at industry coming into the area and try to get clean