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Knights Try To Fend Off Encroaching River

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Update July 24 at 10:50 a.m.:

John Nelson with the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District says WVXU's story was the first the District had heard of erosion problems along the Little Miami River near the Loveland Castle. He says the group is interested in helping.

Conservation District stream specialist Brian Bohl says Joe Carey was right about honeysuckle trees being part of the problem.

“The root systems do not have much binding capacity with the soil.  They’re not going to do much for holding the banks.  However, the native trees and shrubs are really what we recommend planting,” he says.

“Probably the best tree for this is actually the sycamore tree.  So that’s why you see a lot of sycamores along our streams and river systems  because they actually bind the soils well.”

Update July 22 at 2 p.m.: The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District says it hasn't been "formerly contacted in the recent years about this issue, by either the township or Mr. Carey."

In an email to WVXU, the District writes, "We strongly advise against cutting down the trees in riparian zone as recommended by Mr. Carey, as the solution, if anything adding native trees to the riparian zone is scientifically proven to help with stream bank erosion (EPA 2014). The solution to the problem will need a lot inter-agency collaboration and cooperation from Mr. Carey."

Original Post: The group that operates the Loveland Castle is concerned about erosion.  Specifically, the erosion of the banks of the nearby Little Miami River.

Joe Carey with the Knights of the Golden Trail says his complaints about the river eating away at the bank have fallen on deaf ears.  He says the strip of land in question belongs to Symmes Township, but he's not sure they're aware of the erosion.

“The banks are eroding away and nobody seems to care but the Knights and the (Boy) Scouts.”

Every time the Little Miami River rises, Carey says it takes a little more of the bank with it.

The castle and a road in front of it aren't in danger yet, but a fire pit and benches built by the Boy Scouts are.

“If there (were) no trees and no roots and everything and the water could just rise up and then come back down... every time it does that, the only thing left is grass.  And it (doesn’t) wash the grass away. But the honeysuckle all along there is a low-rooted plant and it just keeps kicking it up and so the natural soil washes away,” he says.

He says the strip of land is owned by Symmes Township, which hasn't done anything to shore up the bank.

“I don’t even know if they’re aware.  I’ve quit crying about it.  I cry to deaf ears.  And so does everybody else that’s involved.  So I don’t even know if Symmes Township knows. 

“They have their park people down here come and cut and maybe they might have said something.  But I haven’t.  I haven’t said (anything) to them.  And they’ve said nothing to me.”

Carey says one solution he's seen would cost a lot, but he says just clearing the trees from the riverbank and replacing them with grass would go a long way. 

The Little Miami Conservancy and the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District could not be reached for this story.  Symmes Township referred questions to the Conservation District.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.