Our Mission, History, and Accomplishments

Ohio River Foundation (ORF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2000 by a group of citizens concerned about the Ohio River, and the need for increased citizen response to the degradation of this valuable natural resource. ORF is dedicated to protecting and improving the water quality and ecology of the Ohio River and all waters in its 11-state watershed. ORF works towards these goals through environmental education and conservation activities that serve to inspire environmental stewardship for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future citizens.

ORF has grown to offer programs in education and stewardship that reach thousands of schoolchildren each year and touch the lives of thousands more citizens by protecting water quality and improving quality of life.

The Ohio River watershed is a source of drinking water, place of recreation and commerce, and provides wildlife habitat. The health of the river and its tributaries affects the quality of life of everyone in the watershed.  Thus, our constituency is all people living in the Ohio River watershed (approx. 25 million people =10% of the US population).

Accomplishments

Since our founding in April 2000, Ohio River Foundation has led efforts in Ohio River watershed conservation and environmental education. Here are some of our accomplishments: 

2019

River Explorer passes 45,000 student milestone. Program offered in Greater Cincinnati and Greater Columbus. Students from 30+ schools per year participate in the program.

Mussels in the Classroom passes 3,000 student milestone

ORF completes tree installation on Great Miami River riparian habitat

2018

ORF and volunteers removed thousands of invasive plants and trees from parks in Greater Cincinnati

ORF and its partners created more than 10 acres of pollinator habitat in the Great Miami River corridor

ORF completes 4-acre wetland creation and creek restoration in Summit Park, Blue Ash

2017

ORF produces the inaugural annual Cincinnati Coffee Festival to great acclaim with more than 4,000 attendees -- goal is to raise important program funds and reach a new demographic with an underlying message of conservation and protecting water quality.

Mussels in the Classroom begins

Owingsville Dam on Slate Creek – KY – Removed. Reconnects 4 miles of habitat

Gunpowder Creek Dam – KY - Removed

ORF leads creation of Ohio River Valley Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area for 22 county region of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky

2016

YCT crew performs restoration projects on Northern KY mitigation sites

ORF receives grant for removal of Owingsville Slate Creek Dam 2015

ORF receives grant for removal of Camp Michaels Gunpowder Creek Dam

ORF obtains $257,000 grant for City of Blue Ash for creek restoration project in Summit Park, Blue Ash (OH)

River Explorer passes 25,000 student milestone and begins operation in Columbus, Ohio with 1,000 students

Road removal/bridge installation completed in Lewis County (KY) over Spy Run, tributary to Kinnikinnick Creek

ORF and its partners complete Stillwater River Restoration Project and removal of the West Milton Dam (OH)

YCT crews perform habitat protection work in Bonne National Forest – Red River Gorge, Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (IN), and properties of Great Parks of Hamilton County and Cincinnati Park Board. Cumulative project completion for YCT program passes 200 projects.

2014

ORF and its partners remove the Apple Lane low-water crossing through Beaver Creek and replace it with a bridge (KY)

River Explorer program receives Cincinnati Business Courier Green Business Award 2013

Hoosier YCT nominated for The Regional Forester Honor Award for outstanding achievement by Forest Service partners and employees.

Formal launch of Corporate Volunteer Program -- MillerCoors volunteers install 1,500 sq.ft. of native habitat.

2012

US Department of Interior selects Youth Conservation Team program from 280 applicants for $28,000 grant to work in Hoosier and Boone National Forests.

Field & Stream Magazine selects ORF's Beaver Creek (KY) restoration and education project to be nationally featured as a Hero for a Day project.

River Explorer education program passes 13,000 student milestone.

2011

$100,000 USFWS grant awarded to ORF to work with Harrison County, KY on fish barrier removal and Beaver Creek restoration.

Youth Conservation Team (YCT) program begins in summer with ten high school students. Program saves local park districts $35,000.

2010

ORF secures $1.3 million funding for West Milton, Ohio for low head dam removal and river
restoration project.

ORF receives Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership grant to facilitate removal of West Milton low-head dam on the Stillwater River.

2009

Launched School Rain Gardens Program with 750 students from 4 schools designing and installing 1,600 sq. ft. (total) of rain gardens.

Offer in-classroom Wonderful Watersheds program for schools wanting in-school hands-on learning experiences for students.

2008

Became first non-profit promotional USEPA WaterSense Partner in Ohio River watershed.

Formed, with USFWS and other agencies, the Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership - dedicated to restoration of the ecology of the Ohio River watershed.

2007

Begin Community Rain Garden Program. Installed 12 stormwater rain garden projects in Ohio and Kentucky totaling more than 14,300 sq. ft.

2007-2009 Partnered with Aveda, Inc., to educate 300,000+ customers in OH, IN, and KY about rain gardens, stormwater pollution, and homeowner conservation, and raised $300,000 for ORF programs.

2006

Published River at Risk – An Economic Analysis of Ohio River Locks. This first public analysisexposed serious flaws in Corps of Engineers navigation traffic forecasting.

Led a successful effort to force the Army Corps of Engineers to scrap plans to build auxiliary lock extensions on the Ohio River, after it was revealed that the benefits did not outweigh the cost. The project would have wasted $2 billion of taxpayers’ money and destroyed 11 river acres of habitat.

Formed Ohio River coalition of groups to resist efforts by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) to drastically weaken water quality standards for the Ohio River. More than 5,000 comments filed, and 250 people at public hearings voiced their opposition causing ORSANCO to postpone a vote on the proposals.

2005

River Explorer education program begins. Schoolchildren go down to local waterways to learn about watershed ecology, conservation, and stewardship.

2003

Published A Framework for Ecosystem Restoration of the Ohio River and its Watershed, detailing the scientific issues related to comprehensive ecosystem restoration for the Ohio River and its watershed.

2003-2014 Produced an educational and recreational event: Great Ohio River Paddle.

2000

Founding member of national Water Protection Network (f/k/a Corps Reform Network) -- leading efforts to change the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and our country's river and waterways are managed.

Ohio River Foundation formed as Ohio River Advocacy