by Ally Marotti
March 3, 2014
Standing on the soggy ground that just last month was a lake bottom in Caesar Creek State Park, Stephen Biehl of Ohio Valley Archaeology Inc. knew there was a 99 percent chance he wouldn’t find anything significant on his dig.
“But that 1 percent chance – we just need to make sure,” he said.
For Biehl and his coworker Jamie Davis to complete their study and be 100 percent sure construction of a marina on Caesar Creek Lake would not disrupt any archaeological sites, the lake had to be lowered.
“The marina project has been planned since the inception and the original master plan of the Caesar Creek Lake by the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Phil Miller, resource planning administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “Caesar Creek is a popular recreational facility.”
The 7,900-acre park in the northeast corner of Warren County draws thousands of people every year for almost any manner of outdoor activity – hiking, hunting, camping, you name it.
One of the main attractions, though, is the lake.
A flood-control reservoir built in the mid-1970s, Caesar Creek Lake has become a recreational boon, Miller said, and the requests for marina development are abundant.
Plans are in place for the lake to have a functional marina by the 2016 boating season, but the project couldn’t move forward without first doing a little digging.
Anytime something is built on federal land – as is the park, which is leased to the state of Ohio – the area must first be surveyed to make sure no archaeological sites are present, said Matt Repasky, engineer and project manager with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The requirement is part of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, to prevent the destruction of historical artifacts or sites that could teach archaeologists something about a site’s past.
“Usually the initial review is more of a paper (process),” Repasky said. “We look at the historical archives, what info may already be cataloged.”
But with Caesar Creek, officials had to take it a step further.
“Caesar Creek kind of has a reputation: You can’t really take three steps without tripping over an arrowhead,” he said.
In the spring of 2012, archaeologists from Columbus-based Ohio Valley Archaeology surveyed about 50 acres of land that will be disturbed during marina construction.
“On the dry land we dug shovel pits,” said Biehl, an archaeologist who was on the 2012 study and continued work on the current study. “We had to dig them every 50 feet, look for cultural remnants, and what we’re looking for is anything 50 years or older.”
Biehl and his crew dug about a foot through the topsoil and found what are considered minor artifacts – arrowheads and chips of flint, a type of rock often used to make tools.
“A group of people would move through the area,” Repasky said. “These (items) would be left behind just from hunting or whatever, but they wouldn’t actually set up in the area.”
There were enough sites to warrant documentation but not enough to slow down marina construction.
Still, it was enough to prompt further studies.
“You have to survey the land that’s underwater to make sure there are no cultural remnants here before you destroy it,” Biehl said.
To do that, the lake had to be lowered.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handles that part, Miller said.
There are release valves by the dam off of the lake and Corps members use the valves to release water downstream.
“They know how to regulate and open and close these release valves to allow water to go downstream but not to flood,” Miller said. “They’ve got this down to a science.”
Part of that expertise comes from doing the job on a yearly basis. The Corps lowers the lake about 10 feet every winter to allow room for spring rains, he said.
This is called the winter pool, and it normally stands at about 846 feet above sea level. To accommodate the study, though, they had to go lower.
They let the water drain about 8 inches each day starting Jan. 21 and reached the desired level about Feb.5.
Drained to 836 feet above sea level, the water in the lake comes to rest yards from the eroded shoreline. A chunk of land that’s normally an island now extends from the dry lake shore, no doubt perplexing the beaver that built its home nearby.
The outline of what Biehl said was a farm pond before the reservoir was built is revealed, and the old Ohio 73 that cut straight through what’s now the middle of the lake is uncovered, littered with decades-old pop cans.
Other modern trash litters the wet, silty clay. Most of the topsoil is gone, settled deeper in the lake.
“It really is undisturbed except for erosion,” Biehl said. “The topsoil has washed away, but just because the soil washed away doesn’t mean a site is washed away. The artifacts would just settle (deeper).”
Armed with a GPS and other tools, Biehl and Davis combed more than 9 acres of uncovered lake bottom. And with each step they took, that 1 percent of uncertainty began to fade.
“We just found a couple little flint flakes,” Biehl said. “If we find an arrowhead and a couple flint flakes, that’s not an eligible site.”
Biehl and Davis completed the field work on Feb. 21 and will now compile a report that the Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and several other organizations will review. Since no major artifacts have been found, the marina project will most likely move forward toward its 2016 completion date without any hiccups or extra steps.
“More than likely, there could have been some stuff out here,” Biehl said, “but it’s just lost.”
Brian @ September 23, 2014
by By Larry Moore
November 29, 2013
There is a delay in the proposed Caesar Creek Marina project, the US Army Corps of Engineers is requiring additional site study and information. An archeological survey is required in the lake bed in the area of the marina. While I find it a little difficult to get excited about something that has been under water since 1978, the US Army Corp of Engineers is required to perform due diligence to ensure a wise use of our natural resources and protection of historically significant sites. Both the Army Corps and ODNR are interested in ensuring the project meets all survey requirements.
I spoke with Phil Miller, Resource Planning Administrator for the ODNR Division of Watercraft to get some updates on the project. Miller confirmed the delay noting, “We are revisiting our timeline due to a delay in obtaining the environmental permit from the federal government. This is because of the need to obtain additional information on the potential of archeological significance under the location of the proposed marina. While we don’t anticipate any significance, it has delayed our project.”
While no major excavation is required on the lake bed since floating wave attenuators will be used for the project, there will be some work performed in the lake bed. Miller explains, “The wave attenuators offer several advantages. They are less costly in terms of materials and construction hours over a traditional break wall design.
The design allows them to function for recreational use permitting the mooring of boats and providing stations for fishing. They also offer an advantage for aesthetics of the marina. A break wall would have to be built to include the flood stage of the lake meaning it would have to be twenty-feet above the summer pool. That would ruin the view of the lake from the marina. The use of wave attenuators will allow a scenic view of the lake from the marina.”
The possibility of an archeological site will require additional survey and sampling to be performed. A consultant will handle the additional work for the Division of Watercraft. The lake will be lowered an additional eight to ten feet to accommodate the archeological study. These samples will be taken by professionals and using hand digging methods. The samples will be evaluated for any archeological significance. This work should be started and completed in January 2014. The filling of the lake will resume according to the regular schedule for 2014 and for a normal summer pool.
The additional study will result in a delay to the overall marina project. Miller reports, “This will push the timeline for groundbreaking back to mid-summer of 2014 rather than the anticipated early 2014 start. The major construction should be within the late 2014 to mid-2015 timeframe. The overall completion of the project should be in late 2015 or early 2016. We anticipate putting the floating docks into place in early spring of 2016 with a fully functional marina for the 2016 boating season.”
Of course this all depends on the outcome of the archeological dig and study. It is currently anticipated that nothing of a significant nature will be found. The entire Caesar Creek area and valley was, historically, an area of high native American activity. Caesar Creek is not very far from the Fort Ancient National Historic Landmark and mounds. Fort Ancient is a very significant archeological location. There are other mounds scattered throughout the region.
During the construction of Caesar Creek Lake, many people flocked to the area to search for arrowheads and other artifacts. So it is, at least, a remote possibility that something significant could be discovered.
Miller adds, “We don’t anticipate anything major to be found within the area of the footprint of the marina project. However, should that happen, we will look at all options including mitigation plans, design modifications or even relocation of the proposed marina. We must evaluate the project in terms of environmental impact and users of the marina to ensure conservation and preservation of our natural resources for the benefit of all.”
Miller also discussed the efforts of the Division of Watercraft to partner with the private sector on the project. He noted, “We continue to pursue options for private sector investment in the marina. We anticipate a major announcement about the marina to the private sector in early 2014. We want to make investors aware of the products and opportunities they can bring to the project. We hope to have a partner on board in mid-2014 for the start of the construction.”
While the Caesar Creek marina project has hit something of a snag, it doesn’t appear that anything will seriously delay or derail the effort. A marina has been rumored and talked about since before the lake was even filled. While some fishermen are not excited about the new marina due to the location in a prime Muskie fishing area, it offers opportunity for jobs in the region and a benefit to recreational boaters. However, all that will have to wait until the consultants sift through the lake bottom muck within the footprint area of the marina. What the muck might hold or not hold is the key to the project moving forward. We will all have to wait and see.
Brian @ December 20, 2013
Click picture above to go to Ohio DNR Plan.
The Ohio DNR has a new plan for Caesars Creek Marina.
The plan will place the marina along the existing shoreline instead of dredging out a cove. It is a more cost effective solution that will preserve the youth fishing pond and some green space. Phase one will create 227 slips by 2015 at a cost of $10.7 million. Phase two will come later and add 192 more slips at a cost of $4.3 million.
Brian @ April 11, 2013
Brian @ June 19, 2012
Marina will include 300 boat docks, cottages.
Dayton Daily News
By Lawrence Budd, Staff Writer9:17 PM Monday, May 28, 2012
WAYNE TWP. — Floating cottages and 300 boat docks are part of a $10 million marina plan unveiled last week at Caesar Creek Lake.
The plan was the latest local sign of progress on the marina, part of the original plan for the lake, created in 1975 by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
“It was promised 30 years ago,” said Art Harden, Warren County’s representative to the marina design process. “It’s going to be a benefit for all the places around here.”
The marina is to be built just north of Ohio 73, as it crosses the lake, and south of the main swimming beach.
Construction of the first phase, including a building and 150 docks, is to begin next year, Harden said. The cottages, with private docks, would be built in a later phase.
The plan also calls for fishing platforms and launching areas for kayaks and other small boats, a concession stand, laundry and other services.
So far, the state has set aside $4 million from a waterway safety fund for the project, officials said.
The marina operator is expected to invest about $3 million in exchange for a 20-to-25-year contract, four-to-five times the typical marina lease, Phil Miller, resource planning administrator for the Ohio Division of Watercraft, said in an email.
By offering a longer lease, the state hopes to encourage the operator to invest “back into the marina — thus targeting economic and operational sustainability,” Miller said.
JJR, a Wisconsin-based consultant is designing the marina, projected to open in 2014.
The marina is projected to bring in more than $1 million a year, just from the boaters using the new docks, according to a market analysis. “It’s going to bring in millions of dollars to the community,” said Harden, longtime commodore of the Caesar Creek Sailing Association.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2261 or lbudd@DaytonDailyNews.com.
Brian @ May 29, 2012
COLUMBUS, OH- A new marina is being planned for Caesar Creek State Park, which is located in Warren County about 70 miles southwest of Columbus, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The full-service facility, located near the state park beach area, will be the first of its kind on the 2,830-acre Caesar Creek Lake.
“I am pleased to announce Phase One of the long-awaited development of a new full-service marina in southwest Ohio,” said Sean Logan, ODNR director. “The marina, which will in part be funded by Ohio boaters, will provide boaters with services they’ve been asking for, which will in turn advance Ohio boating and economic development opportunities.
Based on a feasibility study commissioned by ODNR in 2006, the region can support a 300-dock marina with fuel, sanitary, launch and concession services. Phase One of marina development will include the installation of 150 boat slips. Initial construction could begin as early as 2012, with the project being completed in 2014.
“This represents the fulfillment of a long sought goal,” said Mayor Richard Verga from the village of Harveysburg. “We have been working for years to provide our citizens and visitors with the kinds of amenities and services that are a part of this project.”
ODNR’s Division of Watercraft will utilize the state’s Waterways Safety Fund to hire a design consultant to complete a preliminary design and budget for the marina. The design process will include holding an informational meeting to provide the public with an opportunity to share their ideas for the types of services and facility amenities they would like at the marina.
The Waterways Safety Fund is primarily funded through a share of the state’s motor fuels tax, watercraft registration and titling fees and a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard.
“We welcome ODNR’s investment in making Caesar Creek State Park an even bigger attraction,” said Pat South, Warren County Commissioner. “The construction of a marina this size will benefit our lake visitors and provide an additional boost to the economy in Warren County.”
Using an economic calculator developed by Michigan State University, an economic analysis suggests that if 300 boats of various sizes were kept at the Caesar Creek State Park marina, boaters will spend about $1,430 annually on upkeep and maintenance, not including fuel. Total trip spending by boats kept at the marina is estimated to be about $1 million: 14 percent spent on marina services, 20 percent spent on restaurants and bars, 17 percent groceries, 9 percent auto fuel and 31 percent boat fuel.
Using 2007 economic data, the analysis predicted that direct and secondary impacts to the local economy would include 27 jobs, $100,000 in labor income and $1.3 million in value-added funding streams.
Recreational facilities on Caesar Creek Lake include a 1,300 foot sand swimming beach and five boat launch ramps. For overnight stays, the park offers a large, modern campground with 283 electric campsites along with two types of getaway rentals. There is also a primitive horseman’s camp and group camp. Nearly 70 miles of trails weave through the park, including hiking, backpacking, bridle and mountain biking trails.
Most of the 3,700 land acres available for public recreation at Caesar Creek State Park are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and operated and managed by the state through a long-term lease agreement. The Corps of Engineers is responsible for maintaining the dam, spillway and associated structures to achieve its mission of flood control.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.
Brian @ May 26, 2012
Dayton Daily News
By Jim Morris, Contributing Writer9:15 PM Saturday, May 19, 2012
Although not much has been said recently about the proposed marina at Caesar Creek Lake, plans seem to be inching ahead.
The public can see where the project stands this week when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers host open houses to share details.
There will be two sessions from 2-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, and 3-8 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Caesar Creek Visitor Center, 4020 N. Clarksville Road, Waynesville.
“The Division of Watercraft has committed $4 million in funding through the Waterways Safety Fund for the initial phase of marina development,” a department statement said. “ODNR continues to identify funding opportunities in an effort to form a public-private partnership that will provide an essential recreational boating facility in southwest Ohio.
“The Waterways Safety Fund is comprised of watercraft registration and titling fees, a share of the state motor fuel tax and grant funding provided through the U.S. Coast Guard.”
It would be nice to see some real substance at the open houses. I remember talking and writing about the idea of a marina for Caesar Creek back in the 1990s. Today, it seems all they are still doing is talking about it.
Caesar Creek Marina Open House Set (original link)
Brian @ May 26, 2012