Exploitation or conservation of natural resources?

By Ron Metzger - Contributing columnist

Its 8 a.m., and I’m sitting alongside the Little Miami River with two prime opportunities in front of me.

In one scenario, I could be spend the day collecting water quality samples to enhance our knowledge of the health of our watershed. Or, I could be a bit selfish and exploit the natural resources around me for my own benefits and make this a day of enjoyment.

What to do? Listen to that little angel on my right shoulder or the pointy haired fellow on my left?

Hmmm. Time’s a wasting. I’m already skipping out on work to be here so I might as well make the most of it. Exploitation it is.

With a little conservation on the side. Time to shove off and spend the day in my kayak exploiting a beautiful section of the Little Miami River. The day is to be spent floating down the headwaters from John Bryan Park to Glenn Thompson Preserve.

Perhaps it’s not the exploitation that you may have been thinking of with the click bait title to this article.

I’m going to exploit the natural beauty and clean water of my home river to make this day one to remember, one to stand out among the many that simply fade into the background of life.

Behind my boat is a chunk of carved foam with a little electronic payload stuck in it. This is my real excuse to be outside and not sitting behind a computer today; the reason I’m being paid to have fun today.

We’ve spun up this notion that we should collect water quality data along the Little Miami River and create a snapshot of 100 miles or so of the river’s health. We’ve collected a diversity of folks along the way to help make this happen, all willing to skip out of work and responsibilities to join us in our exploits.

My employer is also on board. Possibly because a day without me at the office might be more productive for my colleagues; or perhaps it’s because my company makes the equipment that we’ll be using to collect data today.

A quick plug for Xylem’s Watermark program, through which we were able to assemble the resources to put this float together.

Some five hours and 12-ish miles later our exploitation is complete. We’ve run aground at Glenn Thompson with smiles on our faces and thousands of points of data collected in our device. We’ve landed at the spot where at 8 a.m. another group put afloat to collect data down the next stretch of river.

All the way from John Bryan to Otto Armleder Memorial Park, eight groups joined to collect data on this day and put together a snapshot of our local river. The data will be used to help paint a picture of the river to help conserve this resource for our children to enjoy.

And just as important, it got people out to enjoy our natural resources.

Because if one doesn’t appreciate and enjoy the magnificence of what we have, one is not as driven to conserve it.

To get involved contact one of the local conservation groups like the Little Miami Watershed Network or Little Miami Conservancy for more information on their mission and opportunities.

Or just start by enjoying a float down the Little Miami with the local outfitters, because the more you appreciate our river, the more you’ll want to protect it.

By Ron Metzger

Contributing columnist

Ron Metzger is the senior engineering manager for YSI/Xylem in Yellow Springs.

Ron Metzger is the senior engineering manager for YSI/Xylem in Yellow Springs.